Two candidates vie for one seat on Granby Select Board

Staff Writer
Published: 5/18/2018 11:28:12 PM

GRANBY — Increasing revenue and ending infighting between town departments is a priority for both candidates vying for a seat on the town’s Select Board, as the incumbent chair will not seek re-election this year.

Jennifer Curran, a 45-year-old health care communication consultant who served three years on the School Committee, and Jay Joyce, a 65-year-old Planning Board member and retired defense contract manager for the U.S. Department of Defense, are competing for the only contested seat in Granby’s election scheduled for Monday. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Granby Junior Senior High School gymnasium.

“The major problem in Granby is the town does not have enough revenue so you get infighting between departments because they all want a bigger piece of the pie,” Joyce said.

Foremost on voters minds is how to best to balance the town’s budget, and help a struggling school system pay for unfunded mandates by the state, officials said. Out-of-districts placements, special education, and transportation costs are rising, and rural schools everywhere are struggling to keep up.

“We need money from the state to support education,” said Select Board chairman Mark Bail. “If the state were doing its job to support education, Granby wouldn’t be having budget problems.”

Bail will not seek re-election this term, and said he supports Curran as his successor. Curran commended Bail’s legacy of transparency and open dialogue between town agencies, saying communication is key to fostering a politically engaged citizenry.

“I know there is a history of folks in town that are really frustrated,” Curran said. “We need to reach out to those people and we need to do it in a way that they understand, that their opinion matters.”

Joyce also thinks Granby needs more political engagement, saying he was disappointed that only 138 people of over 4,500 registered voters in Granby showed up to the annual Town Meeting last Monday. He says he takes a holistic approach to the town’s well-being, and that if one department is struggling, the whole town struggles.

“You can’t be part of a team if you don’t know what’s going on,” Joyce said. “That’s what I’m trying to bring into the town, a solid leader that’s going to help people along the way and guide them through the process and let them make their own educated decisions.”

With two twin boys on the autism spectrum attending Granby public schools, support for special education and paraprofessional staffing are important to Curran. During her time on the School Committee, Curran said members have been successful in starting conversations with the Finance Committee and Select Board about how to best give schools the resources they need.

“Our School Committee has managed to change the conversation around the school budget,” Curran said. “Right now we are constantly struggling with school funding. Rural towns in general are really being hit hard with unfunded mandates.”

Both Select Board candidates support the passing of the Fair Share Amendment, a ballot initiative that would amend the state Constitution to charge a 4 percent surtax for anyone making over $1 million in annual income. They say the extra money would help rural areas like Granby keep up with essential services like education, road repair and emergency services.

An elected member of the Planning Board and chairman of the Energy Committee, Joyce has helped the town apply for grants to reduce energy consumption and repair aging buildings. By applying for reimbursements from the state for things like educational transportation and renewable energy programs, Joyce says he can help the town save money.

“We need to bring in some outside revenue with grants incentives and collecting reimbursables,” Joyce said. “The biggest expense is energy consumption, then the voters can take those savings and pass them to anything they want.”

Curran’s plan to increase Granby’s revenue is built on three pillars: promoting tourism, supporting a fledgling marijuana industry, and increasing transparency and accountability in town government.

“We need to capitalize on what we have and what we have are farms, a ton of great farm stands and horse farms,” Curran said.

She also sees retail marijuana as not only a way to raise tax revenue and bring business to town, but also one way to combat the opioid addiction epidemic as studies have shown marijuana eases withdrawal symptoms.

Both candidates noted that Granby’s lack of municipal water and sewer services is a deterrent to future business development, and should be remedied in the long term.

They also both want to form committees of representatives from each town department that will meet regularly to focus on the town’s priorities and answer residents’ questions.

Other campaigns

School Committee members Emre Evren and Jennifer Bartosz will seek re-election unopposed.

Five candidates will also be running unopposed for re-election to various town offices: Lee Lalonde for the Board of Health; Lynn Snopek Mercier for moderator; Karen Stellato for collector; Steven R. Nally for treasurer; and Robert Sheehan for Planning Board.

The deadline to file an absentee ballot is Friday at 5 p.m.

Sarah Robertson can be reached at srobertson@gazettenet.com.


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