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Felch stands between Bolduc & a 16th term on City Council

LACONIA — In perhaps the most keenly contested of the six races for City Counci,l the voters of Ward 6 will choose between incumbent Armand Bolduc, seeking his 16th consecutive term, and Tony Felch, who has campaigned on the theme that "it's time for change."

"I don't just work in Ward 6. I work in all of them," said Bolduc, who also served a term as mayor from 1984-1986 when the councilors elected the mayor from among their number. Apart from longevity, Bolduc's visibility is as a mainstay of the annual Christmas Village and leading figure in the Lakeport Association, make him a formidable opponent to any challenger.

"It's name recognition," said Felch, a Lakeport resident who has managed the Mountain View Apartments for the past 22 years and serves as president of the Leavitt Park Association. "I voted for Armand for many years," he remarked. After a failed write-in campaign in Ward 6 two years ago, Felch said this year he has worked hard to overcome the advantage of an entrenched incumbent. "I've been putting out signs and knocking on doors," he said.

Both candidates are eying the recycling program closely, hoping it will meet the projected reduction in the cost of collecting and disposing of solid waste. Bolduc said that mandatory recycling was "the best choice we had and it's going great." He said that the council respected the opposition to a Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) program, but "put the onus on to the taxpayers to recycle. They've seen that it isn't that difficult," he said..

If mandatory recycling reaches the goal, Felch said "I'm all for it, but it it doesn't, I'd support PAYT, but only if the savings were taken off the tax burden." He believes that the program would be more successful and return greater savings if recyclable materials were collected weekly and that the city should seek a workable arrangement in negotiating a new collection contract.

Felch welcomed the prospect of the city investing in the construction of the WOW Trail. "It's just going to take forever if it's left to the private sector," he said. Bolduc said that although he supports the project, he remains concerned about safety on the trail and liability to the city. "The best solution is a chain link fence," he said. Bolduc recognized the concerns of residents of South Down Shores, who have amassed a legal fund to keep the trail from crossing the development. "I understand why they feel that way," he said, adding that he has considered "a couple of alternative routes."

The two agree that the city should pursue the redevelopment of the former Laconia State School in partnership with the state. Bolduc stressed the importance of securing so-called Risley Field, some 60 acres in the northwest corner of the property adjacent to the Robbie Mills Sports Complex, which provides parking space for the facility.

Bolduc said the renovation and expansion of Central Fire Station on North Main Street is "at the top of my agenda." He said that with the construction of the police station and middle school, together with the expansion of the Huot Technical Center and renovations at the high school, "there is one place left to go — the fire station."

Downtown redevelopment is high among Felch's priorities. He said that city officials should work in tandem with the Belknap Economic Development Council (BEDC), following the example of Keene and Monadnock Economic Development Corporation. "We need to think big," he said, suggesting that the BEDC acquire "the worst building, attack it and proceed one piece at a time."

Felch is also bent on eliminating the primary election. This year 548 of the 9,619 registered voters, or 6 percent, cast ballots and one candidate for mayor and another for city council were eliminated at a cost of $10,000. "Getting rid of the primary will save us $10,000 every two years," he said. "It's time for a change."

 
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