Published DateBELMONT — In the final salvo between incumbent Selectman Jon Pike and challenger George Condodemetraky, it appears those in the audience, including former Town Administrator Don McLelland Sr. had the final say at the candidates' forum at the high school last night.
In front of about 50 people, Pike and Condodemetraky exchanged the expected verbal quips about whether or not Pike was entitled to stay on his ex-wife's health town-sponsored health insurance policy following his divorce but it was McLelland who asked Condodemetraky why he felt he was capable of being a selectman.
"I still haven't heard why you qualify," he said, reminding Condodemetraky he runs every year for office and never wins. "I'm not hearing anything good here. I'm hearing vendettas."
McLelland also said that former Selectman David Morse, who publicly challenged Pike's legal residency last night, has a vendetta against Pike and Condodemetraky has sued the town in Belknap County Superior Court.
Condodemetraky explained his loses by saying the Attorney General "didn't want to be bothered" and the Belknap County Superior Court judge who dismissed his challenge to Pike's payout was "prejudiced."
"You continue to bring it up and it's very bad for the town," McLelland said.
Pike was also supported by resident Jim Spiller who said he has sat with Pike in his Belmont kitchen and knows first hand where he lives. Pike has served 12 years on the Planning Board and six years as selectman.
Pike himself said he lives on 55 Brown Hill Road and has owned a business in Belmont for years. He said town's people are always stopping by his garage and asking him for advice and/or assistance and he is always accessible for any residents.
He said he has "a lady friend" who lives in Plymouth and the two spend quite a bit of time with each other. He said he has never voted anywhere but Belmont.
Spiller also questioned Condodemetraky's about the construction of Solar Village and whether or not he buried tanks and electrical lines when he wasn't supposed to.
Condodemtraky said he followed every law that was required of him at the time.
When questioned about what he would do differently if he were selectmen, Condodemetraky said he would never have voted to buy the former Northway Bank building in the village.
Pike replied that the selectmen didn't buy the bank building, the voters did. He also said that had he known about the issues with the fourth floor of Belmont Mill before he supported buying the bank building, he likely would have held off on the purchase.
He said when the discussions were centering around the former bank, the town had no idea about the structural issues with the Mill, which the board has since learned stemmed from shortcuts taken by contractors at the time of its restoration.
Pike said the one thing he would never do as long as he was a selectman was to support a municipal project that didn't have a clerk of the works — or someone who works only for the town and ensures that contractors do what they are being paid to do.
He said the town is trying to recoup its investment in the mill by following up on insurance policies held by the contractors when the mill was renovated.
Pike said likely the bank building will sit idle until the town knows what it will cost — if anything — to repair the mill, which has tenants and is a priority.
Other contested seats in Belmont include that of Library Trustee. Diana Johnson has lived in Belmont five years and has two small children.
A former educator, she said her and her family have participated in a number of activities at the library.
"It's small but we love it," she said.
Challenger Sheila Sullivan said she has lived in Belmont for 13 years, moving from Laconia. She is a retired paralegal and is a volunteer on the Auxiliary Board of LRGH. She is the chair of their scholarship committee.
When asked if she went to the library, she said she doesn't go regularly but that she works well with people and reading is her Number 1 down-time priority.