LACONIA — Apart from the race from the race for mayor, the only other contested seat in Tuesday's primary election is for the City Council in Ward 2 where three candidates — David Bownes, Richard Beaudoin and Mark Templeton — are bidding to succeed Matt Lahey, who retired after serving his second two-term stint in the ward.
A lifelong resident of the city, Beaudoin described himself as a "blue collar" member of the "gray patrol, or in my case bald patrol," quickly adding that "grass never grows on a busy street". He said that he is known about town as "the doctor" for his knack for fixing things as well as designing and assembling the electrical and mechanical components of robots mostly used to train tennis players.
This will be Beaudoin's second run at the seat. In 2011, after winning a place on the general election ballot with three write-in votes in the primary, he lost to Lahey by a margin of 103 to 44, with just 11-percent of voters casting ballots. Preferring to be described as "cheap" rather than "fiscally conservative," he said that he is "tired of the waste" in city government. As an example, he pointed to plan to landscape the plaza at the Main Street Bridge. "We're not trying to turn Laconia into Greenwich Village," he remarked. "I want businesses on Main Street, not flower pots."
Beaudoin favors more and wiser investment in city streets. "Paving is just a waste of money unless we take care of what's underneath," he said. Although he supports the property tax cap, he questioned linking the increase in the amount to be raised by taxes to the consumer price index (CPI). "The CPI may go up," he said, "but pay checks do not."
Bownes, an attorney by profession and actor by inclination, was born and raised in Laconia and save for a decade spent pursuing a career in the front of the footlights has lived and worked in the city ever since. A former city councilor, Bownes was among those who led the effort to acquire, renovate and reopen the Colonial Theatre as a regional performing arts center that ultimately came to nothing. "We ran the the table," he said, "but the the theatre remains the elephant in the middle of downtown Laconia."
Bownes distinguished between "hot button" and "long-term" issues, stressing that he is most interested in addressing the latter, especially economic development, which is required to assure the city of revenue and its residents of opportunities. The city, he suggested, should work closely with the Belknap Economic Development Council and Lakes Region Planning Commission to seek state and federal funding for civic projects.
"I want to help make Laconia a good place to live and raise your children," Bownes said. "It's really that simple."
Templeton, an engineer with Electronics for Imaging, Inc. (EFI) of Meredith, is making his first bid for public office. Although he did not return telephone this week, earlier he said that when no one stepped forward to fill the seat, he decided to run, moved in large measure by the tragic accident on Messer Street that took the life of 14-year-old Lily Johnson and severely injured Allyssa Miner. "That was about all I can take," he said. "I want to improve public safety and make the city a better place to live.
Born in Laconia, Templeton was raised in Sanbornton and while enrolled at Winnisquam Regional High School, took his first steps at the Huot Regional Techical Education Center toward his career as an engineer. Before joining EFI, he worked with a Canadian firm that manufactured injection molding systems, including a stint in Luxemburg, and as a designer with Freudenburg—NOK in Bristol. Now 37, he suggested that with his relative youth and varied experience he could bring a fresh perspective to the council.