MANCHESTER — Manchester’s three candidates for the town’s two open seats on the Board of Selectmen will face off Friday morning in a live, public debate, hosted by the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce and three local media outlets, including the Times.
The debate is set to run from 8 to 9 a.m. at the Manchester American Legion Post 113 hall, with all three candidates — Eli Boling, Ann Harrison, and Robert Hoff, Jr. — scheduled to participate.
Admission is free and the event is open to the public, Chamber senior vice president Peter Webber said, and doors will open at 7:30 a.m.
The three candidates — seeking the seats being vacated by current board members Susan Thorne and Mary Hardwick, neither of whom sought re-election — will be responding to a series of questions posed by a panel that will include Ray Lamont, editor of the Gloucester Daily Times, Jane Enos, editor of the Cape Ann Beacon, and Pat Slade, editor of the Manchester Cricket.
All of the questions will be prepared by the Chamber and the panelists in advance, and there will not be any live questions taken from the floor.
Webber and Lamont said Monday, however, that anyone seeking to submit a question for consideration in the debate may do so by sending it to Lamont, care of firstname.lastname@example.org. Any questions submitted to the Times must be received noon on Thursday, Lamont and Webber said.
The debate will be moderated by Bill Scott, Manchester resident, a past president of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber’s current treasurer and board member. The debate will also be recorded by Cape Ann TV and shown a number of times prior to the town’s election, which is scheduled for May 21, a week from today.
The three candidates bring differing and diverse backgrounds to the race.
Harrison has represented the town on the regional School Committee for nine years, and served on the Finance Committee prior to that.
The 63-year-old Tucks Point Road resident works as a software developer and consultant for a variety of businesses.
Boling also works as a software developer, working from home for a California-based company.
The 48-year-old Pleasant Street resident has served on an ad-hoc committee that makes reconciliations and suggestions about emergency dispatch for about one year, he said.
Boling has lived in Manchester for about 11 years, and has since taken an active role in participating to School Committee and Board of Selectmen meetings.
Hoff, 51, of Mark Street, was born and raised in Manchester, but moved back to the area about six years ago, buying his childhood house.
Hoff, the creative director for his own consulting company, has no experience on any boards or committees, but he regularly volunteers for the Manchester Essex DECA team as a chaperon and a judge. He also serves as a substitute teacher in the Manchester Essex Regional School District.
The Board of Selectmen’s race is the only contested race on the ballot, though other town offices will also be in the ballot with single candidates or write-ins.
The May 21 election will run from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., with all voting at Manchester Memorial Elementary School.