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Ehrhard, Dowling face off at candidate forum

Candidates for Board of Selectmen Mary Dowling and James Ehrhard fielded questions from Sturbridge voters at the Senior Center on Tuesday, March 30. Christopher Tanguay. (click for larger version)
March 31, 2010
STURBRIDGE — The two candidates for selectmen in the April 12 annual election sipped water and talked about civility during a candidates reception Tuesday.

The discussion inside the Senior Center quickly turned, as many expected, to the behavior of elected officials.

Selectman hopefuls Mary Dowling and James Ehrhard, fielding questions from Town Moderator Michael Caplette that were submitted by audience members prior to the start of the debate, each said they were experienced in fostering civil discourse.

Ehrhard, who served as the Chairman of the Town Administrator Search Committee that recently came under scrutiny for some heated exchanges between members, said having weathered the storm of disagreements in that setting is a testament to his ability to keep people on track and not lose site of the group's objective.

"The meeting moved on and we got our work done and we voted unanimously on a very capable town administrator, Shaun Suhoski," Ehrhard said of the meeting during which some vulgar phrases were hurled between a couple committee members.

Ehrhard said that skill is something he can bring to the Board of Selectmen, which he said, has "a dysfunctional nature."

Dowling, a professional arbitrator for issues that often result in the dismissal of an employee or severance of business relations, said in her opinion, maintaining civility is easy.

"Treat people with respect, this is the golden rule from thousands of years ago," she said. "We don't have to like each other when we sit on a board together."

See Thursday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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