KENSINGTON — Kensington's three new selectmen are eager to get to work.
In the March 12th election, voters elected Joe Pace, Vanessa Rozier and Peter Graves to lead the town.
Pace won over Bob Gustafson in the only contested race, for a three-year seat. Rozier and Graves ran unopposed for two-and one-year seats, respectively.
The three will carry on the work of Michael Schwotzer, Benjamin Cole and Robert Long. Schwotzer and Cole were appointed by Superior Court Judge Andrew Schulman in September after the previous board resigned the night before the September primary election. Schwotzer and Cole then appointed Long to fill the third seat.
None of the three appointees chose to run for a full term.
Pace, who brings experience as an Exeter selectman to his new gig, said that he was "grateful to have had the interim board. They did such a good job." The appointed board isn't going anywhere soon, and Pace said he's pleased that they plan to stay around and orient the newcomers.
"They did a lot of hard work, and they got us back on track," Pace said.
According to Pace, the job of the new board will be to "keep the momentum going."
While Pace doesn't have a "laundry list" of issues he wants to tackle, he's learned from talking to his new constituents that residents want to see more structured policies and procedures, and more transparency. "The former board developed a purchasing policy," he said, "and I'm surprised we didn't have one before."
Pace would like to see a Capital Improvement Plan program, so the town doesn't get hit with huge needs all at once, and he's open to more tools for planning and budgeting.
"In town government, there are fun times and bumpy times," he observed.
While Rozier has never served on a town board, she's been in commercial real estate for 20 years and worked with many towns and cities. "I have been extensively involved in the municipal process," she said. "I'm excited to be able to lend my skills to our community."
She gave kudos to the outgoing selectmen, noting that they did "an amazing job of working together."
Many of the issue facing the town were resolved under that board, Rozier said.
But there's still plenty to do, and she expressed concern about the town's recycling program and the growing costs of being green. "It is a continuing concern," she said.
Schwotzer wrote in an email, "We wish them well and hope the community gives them time to get acclimated to their new jobs."
Highlights of the voting for Schwotzer included passing the budget he crafted along with Cole and Long. After years of budgets coming in below the default budget, Schwotzer, an accountant, took a look at the things town departments were going without. With department input, he created what he said was a "realistic" budget for Kensington, at $1,788,415. The townspeople went for it, voting 359 to 142 to approve it. The town's passage of all 19 warrant articles was a "round of applause" for him and his colleague's work, Schwotzer wrote.
One of the crucial issues on the warrant was Article 5, to ask the town to approve a new 30-year agreement for the operation of Sawyer Park, the town's recreation area. The agreement included capping the town's share of the park's operation at $30,000 per year and hiring a park manager. Residents approved the article, 432 to 76, and also approved Article 6, asking the town to authorize electing instead of appointing representatives to the Sawyer-Kensington Trust. Townspeople approved that article, 448 to 58. Schwotzer wrote, "This means that the town park will move forward for the next 30 years in a joint effort among the Kensington Leadership Center Trust, the Sawyer-Kensington Trust and the town."
The three current trustees, Donna Carter, Glenn Greenwood and Hez Marks-Mercadante, will serve for one more year. Trustees will begin being elected in 2020.
The first meeting with the new Select Board will be Monday, March 18, at 6:30 p.m. in the Town Hall.