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Seven council hopefuls square off

Issues range from landfill to town bylaws to jobs creation

Council Candidates, from left, Javier Melendez, Ron Chernisky, Conrad Vandal, Albert Vecchia, Pamela Regis, Laurent ‘Butch’ McDonald and David Manna squared off in a debate at Council Chambers Wednesday night. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
June 24, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — Candidates vying for a seat on the Town Council amicably made their pitches to voters during a debate Wednesday.

Seven of the nine candidates discussed positions on topics ranging from economic development, alternative energy, and the structure of the Board of Health.

The Southbridge Evening News and "Eye On Southbridge", a local cable access program, sponsored the debate held in the MacKinnion Council Chambers in Town Hall.

Incumbents Conrad Vandal, Pamela Regis and Albert Vecchia Jr. joined the fray against newcomer Javier Melendez, David Manna, Laurent "Butch" McDonald, and former Councilor Ronald Chernisky. Candidates Ronald Proulx and Stephanie DeMartino, both of whom ran last year, did not attend.

The candidates took widely differing positions one of the most hotly debated issues in town — the Southbridge Recycling and Disposal Park — which the Board of Health in 2008 approved allowing more municipal solid waste to be disposed. Regis said she had health concerns, but that the council had taken steps to protect the public. She, however, stressed the Board of Health and not the council, is the proper place to address those concerns.

"That is not the council's responsibility," she said. "That is the biggest misperception [of those against the landfill]."

McDonald agreed it is the Board of Health's role but said they had trusted the operators too much.

Vecchia said the landfill does not cause him any worry. He said the 58 conditions in the contract with the site's operator — Casella Waste Systems — puts proper reassurances in place that keep the public protected.

"[Those] cured all my problems," he said.

Chernisky said the contract assures the site will be properly dealt with during and after its closing.

"By doing so we are protecting the people," he said.

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

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