MEREDITH — The first candidate to file for election to the two open seats on the Board of Selectmen — Rosemary Landry — kicked off a parade as within days five others threw their hats in the ring — Bev Lapham, Ray Moritz, Michael Hatch, Jonathan James and Roland Tichy — before the filing period ends at 5 p.m. today. Voting will take place March 10.
A lifelong resident of Meredith, Hatch, a veteran of the United States Navy who worked in the construction industry, has been following politics and engaged in campaigns since he was a sophomore in high school. He recalled that as teenager he met Governor Hugh Gregg and on returning home told his mother "I can be governor. He had on a red checkered shirt and the same kind of jeans I wear!" His support of George H.W. Bush in the New Hampshire Primary earned him a flight on Air Force One and a visit to the Oval Office.
Hatch said that he was at Town Hall on Wednesday where City Clerk Kerri Parker asked him if he was running for selectman. He told her no, but agreed that if by Friday there was still only one candidate for the two seats, he would file. Then, after talking with some friends, he decided to run without waiting until the end of the week.
"I'd like to keep Meredith Meredith," Hatch said. "Let's improve it without spending lots of money." He served on the 3/25 Advisory Committee, but was not disappointed when the plan drew scant popular support and was scuttled by the selectmen. "If it's not better, don't do it," he declared. "Listen to the people."
Lapham moved to Meredith 26 years ago after leaving a career in banking to own a small business, Village Canvas Company, which is now operated by his son. Ever since he has been an active volunteer, as a Rotarian, director of both the Greater Meredith Program and Chamber of Commerce. He led the volunteers who financed and built the boardwalk between Scenic Park and Hesky Park and most recently chaired the created the Sculpture Walk.
Lapham said that "running for selectman has been on my mind for some time and when I saw the vacancies I decided it was time for me to step up." Noting that the town has been well governed by its selectmen and well served by its volunteers, he stressed that "I want to basically maintain the positive momentum and not the change the direction." Lapham said that if elected he intends to continue his work as a private volunteer while fulfilling his duties as a public official. "Let's try them both," he remarked.
James came to Meredith as a 14-year-old. He served in the United States Coast Guard, worked at the Spaulding Youth Center and most recently was director of buildings, grounds, housekeeping and security at the Tilton School. In Meredith he has served on the now defunct Water Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment as well as a trustee of the trust funds.
James said he considered running for selectman a year ago, before Hillary Seeger filed for the single open seat. Describing himself as "a realist in a fantasy world," he said "I try not to be an extremist, but instead to listen to everyone's point of view." James said that apart from overseeing the responsible management of the town, he had no particular agenda or priorities. However, he said that with the rejection of the traffic plan for 3/25 corridor, the Selectboard would "still need to work on a better situation for pedestrians" and questioned the wisdom of holding major events "at one of the worst intersections in the state."
Calling himself "a high-tech vagabond," Moritz who served as chief executive officer of several companies, made Meredith his home in 1995 and retired there in 2006.He is treasurer of the Lakes Region Visiting Nurse Association, a director of the Windy Water Conservancy, the successor to the Waukewan Shore Owners Association, and volunteers with the Executive Service Corps, a group of experienced professionals who offer expertise and advice to nonprofit organization for little or no cost.
"We all need to to participate and do our share," Moritz said of his decision to seek election. "I have the time, energy and , I think, the ability to contribute." Although schooled as an engineer, he said that financial management became his strong suit, a talent he believed was appropriate for a selectmen. Moritz said that recently "I see the potential for divisiveness on our Selectboard," adding that he believes the town has followed a sound course and that dissension among the selectmen and a change of direction would not be in the best interests of the community.
The sixth candidate, Roland Tichy, a business consultant, could not be reached before press time on Thursday.
The two opens seats currently are held by Carla Horne and Peter Brothers but neither is running for re-election.
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