GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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May 18, 2013

Candidates talk bags, liabilities, priorities

MANCHESTER — From dealing with the fallout of the plastic bag ban that takes effect July 1 to confronting unfunded liabilities and hypothetical million-dollar allocations, the three candidates for Manchester’s two Board of Selectmen seats fielded a variety of questions at a debate Friday morning.

Hosted by the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, roughly 30 residents — including current selectmen Thomas Kehoe and Margaret Driscoll — listened in as the candidates answered questions submitted by readers of the Times and the Manchester Cricket, and posed by Times Editor Ray Lamont, Patricia Slade, editor of the Cricket, and Jane Enos, editor of the Cape Ann Beacon. Bill Scott of Manchester’s Scott Energy and the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce served as the moderator.

With residents due to go to the polls at Memorial Elementary School Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., the candidates are Ann Harrison, a software developer, former Finance Committee member and current School Committee; Eli Boling, a software engineer and emergency dispatch ad-hoc committee member; and Robert Hoff Jr., a substitute teacher, volunteer for the regional school district and a marketing consultant.

All are vying for the seats being vacated by current Board of Selectmen chair Susan Thorne and selectmen Mary Hardwick, who are not seeking re-election.

With business owners stepping forward about having an excess of plastic bags to get rid of by the July 1 deadline, candidates were asked how they would address the merchants concerns.

There has been talk of possibly delaying fines and allowing leniency. Another option presented is for the Manchester Essex Green Team, which talked to a store employee and not a store owner about the ban, to host a fundraiser to buy up the remaining bags.

“Our businesses should not have to suffer for our effort to clean up the environment,” Boling said, adding he would be in favor of aiding merchants.

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