SALEM — Clear differences are emerging between the six candidates seeking three seats on the Board of Selectmen.
Voters will choose from incumbent selectmen Michael Lyons and Everett McBride and challengers Stephen Campbell and Roland Theberge for two three-year seats. Susan Covey, who was appointed to the board in August, will face off against John Manning for a one-year term.
Major issues in the race so far have included the tax rate, infrastructure work, and the rising costs of health care and retirement for town employees.
Lyons, chairman of the board, said he wants to "continue to give the voters the opportunity to vote on our capital work" — especially for the roads and water system.
"We took on bridges and I think we were successful there," he said.
"We've got a plan in place that will eventually fix all our structurally deficient bridges."
He said by reconstructing failed roads in town, in three to five years, the town could be done repaving roads, only to have them require much more expensive reconstruction just years later.
Lyons said the board had done a good job holding down the operating budget. He said most of the tax increase had come from work presented as warrant articles and voted for by the people. Even with eight miles of other road maintenance, taxes would not have gone up at all last year, he said, if the voters had rejected the reconstruction of Cluff Road.
But Campbell, a longtime Budget Committee member, said taxes have gone up too much in the last five years — 25 percent.
"No matter how good the projects are, taxes going up that much in that short of time, the taxes are just unaffordable for people," he said.
Campbell said few of the warrant articles had been citizens petitions, and the others were all introduced by the selectmen.