Candidate for three-year term on the Charlton Board of Selectmen
Lucas T. Stevens, a 21-year-old student, is running for the Charlton Board of Selectmen. The Republican was a 2015 graduate from Shepherd Hill Regional High School who last year was elected to a three-year term to the town’s Recreation Commission.
The Citizen Chronicle: What prior experience do you have that makes you qualified to serve?
Lucas Stevens: I am currently serving on the Charlton Recreation Commission and have been learning a great deal about certain challenges our community faces. Even those unrelated to the work of the Recreation Commission, including education, infrastructure and traffic management. I also have been a resident of this town since I was 5-years-old, so I have been studying the issues that have been continuously affecting the town. Therefore, I am very eager to help resolve these issues.
The Citizen Chronicle: What do you think makes a good selectman?
Lucas Stevens: A good selectman is one who is always available to listen to concerns of people in town. Members of the Board of Selectmen are elected to set a general direction for town policy and a vision for the town’s future. It is vital that the Board of Selectmen work with other boards and commissions and residents to reschedule a consensus on both areas.
The Citizen Chronicle: What are the main issues in town that you’d like to address?
Lucas Stevens: First and foremost, I would work with our state legislators to reform the “wealth formula” which is incredibly outdated and is not beneficial to our teachers and students. I am in favor of an override to get the funds our schools desperately need. However, this is only temporary. A long-term solution needs to come from Beacon Hill to give relief to the school district and to get more state aid.
Secondly, I would like to tackle some issues regarding infrastructure, especially Guelphwood Road. I would propose a review of some of our aging roadways and bridges to make sure they are safe for drivers. As our infrastructure continues to age, problems like Guelphwood Road and the Potter Village Bridge will become too common unless we do something sooner rather than later.
The Citizen Chronicle: The town currently has a deal for water from Southbridge and there has been recent talk about acquiring water from Oxford. How should Charlton proceed in dealing with its water problems?
Lucas Stevens: I would have to look at the numbers and see what best benefits. Any money we spend on this issue needs to be spent wisely and with residents’ top concerns in mind.
The Citizen Chronicle: What is your point of view on the status of the public school district?
Lucas Stevens: From an academic standpoint, I believe the Dudley-Charlton Regional School District is one of the best in the state. However, I would certainly advocate for a focus on more funding for mental health and counseling services. Yes, this costs money, however I would advocate for this in the reform of the wealth formula and make sure it is spent wisely.
The Citizen Chronicle: What is your point of view on the reputation of the town and its leadership?
Lucas Stevens: Growing up here, I believe Charlton is one of the best towns to live in statewide. With regards to leadership, I believe the town’s leadership has done a fantastic job handling issues that have confronted our community. However, I seek to offer a fresh perspective to the issues of economic development, especially along Route 20, and the handling of traffic issues as we continue to grow as a community.
The Citizen Chronicle: What is your point of view on the future of Town Administrator Robin Craver?
Lucas Stevens: Ms.Craver has been a fierce advocate for our town and has been great at improving coordination between boards and commissions. If elected, I would look forward to working with her to further make our municipal government more efficient and accountable to the residents of the town.
The Citizen Chronicle: The landfill in Southbridge will be closing sooner than later. Charlton residents have received some benefits from that landfill. Does its closure pose any concerns?
Lucas Stevens: The cancellation of these benefits means that residents and the town will have to look for other benefits elsewhere. This does raise done concerns, of course, however the closure of this landfill had been needed for a long time now. All the evidence and testing of wells points to the landfill being the cause of the contamination of residents’ wells with carcinogens. Therefore, I am behind the decision for the closure and if elected would work with residents to find new accommodations.
The Citizen Chronicle: What is your stance on any possibility of commerical recreational marijuana establishments being permitted in Charlton?
Lucas Stevens: I believe that if it were to come into town, I would advocate for it to be put as a vote before the town. I would also look at other municipalities which already have recreational establishments and base decisions off of that. However, I am in favor of the safeguards that are in place by the state and am confident that if it were to come into town there would be no major issues. I would still wait to look at case studies, firstly.
The Citizen Chronicle: What is Charlton’s greatest asset?
Lucas Stevens: The people. Growing up in town over the years has given me an opportunity to know so many individuals who care about our community and want to help make it a better place to live.
The Citizen Chronicle: What is Charlton’s greatest problem?
Lucas Stevens: I think the greatest challenge Charlton faces as a town is to try to help foster more civic involvement. A lot of people do not know what happens at the municipal level, even when this is the level that usually affects them the most. If elected, I would hold monthly “office hours” where residents can come and speak with me about their concerns and how I or the town can help them. After all, it is your tax dollars which pay for these government services.
The Citizen Chronicle has published interviews with the candidates for Seat No. 1 on the Charlton Board of Selectmen. This year there will be two seats on the general election ballot on May 5. Karen Spiewak and Lucas Stevens are each running for Seat No. 1, while incumbent David Singer is running unopposed for Seat No. 2.