MADISON — Three candidates for the Board of Selectmen are running on platforms of moving the town forward despite the fact its largest employer and taxpayer, Madison Paper Industries, has closed.

There are three candidates for two three-year terms on the board.

The election in the race will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Town Office. Candidates include Al Veneziano, the current board chairman; Jeff Foss; and Ron Moody. Veneziano is up for re-election and Selectman Cyprien Johnson’s term also is expiring. Johnson is not running for re-election.

Foss, 40, said his priority would be to keep the tax rate low while maintaining services in Madison. He also said the town could benefit from attracting and fostering more small businesses such as his own in Madison and Skowhegan.

“We need to watch our spending,” Foss said. “The board did a very good job last year when the mill was revaluated of not affecting the taxpayers too much, and so now it’s a matter of doing that again, trying to cut costs without hurting our public supply.”

Moody, 69, said he hopes to give residents more input on decisions made by the board. As chairman of the advisory committee, Moody spoke out against a decision by the board last year to present residents with a single budget figure for police services at Town Meeting and instead argued in favor of having two figures presented to residents — one that would allow residents to keep the Madison Police Department and one that would consolidate the department with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office.

“When you have something of that magnitude, it should go to the town, to a referendum, to have them vote on it; but it did not, so I recommended putting two figures in the police budget line so the town had an option,” Moody said.

Veneziano, 56, said it is important that the town preserve residents’ property values while also keeping the tax rate reasonable with the mill’s closure.

“We need to be as conservative as we can be and still function as a town, but we need to protect people’s property values,” he said. “We can’t just let things go and all of a sudden properties aren’t worth anything.”

Foss is a sales manager at Hight Chevrolet in Skowhegan, owner of Jellystone Park at Yonderhill Campground in Madison, and a co-owner of II Rent Property Management, a property management company with rentals in Madison and Skowhegan.

The town also could benefit from feeding off the success of nearby Skowhegan, he said.

“We’re right beside Skowhegan, which is doing really well,” Foss said. “We can provide housing and other services for Skowhegan, being a neighboring town.”

He also mentioned the Madison Business Park as a place for the town to focus on building jobs.

“There’s lots of room in the business park that hasn’t been developed,” Foss said. “We can focus on the solar project that is expected to come in. Even if it brings 10 jobs, that will help a lot.”

Moody is a retired Maine State Police officer who serves on the town’s Budget Advisory Committee and previously has served five years on the Board of Selectmen. Moody said he also would have liked to see residents have two options on a proposal to eliminate curbside recycling, but the advisory committee opposed the idea last month.

“The townspeople do not have a say at all about recycling. My understanding is there’s a lot of residents who want to stay with recycling. Again, if the board feels they have a good idea, that we don’t need recycling, that’s fine; but at the same time, you need to bring it to the people,” Moody said.

When it comes to the future of the town without Madison Paper Industries, Moody said the town needs to attract more businesses but “other than that, there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities.” More importantly, he said, is that officials communicate with residents about the changes. “With the town going through trying times right now, people need to be kept appraised of what it’s going through and whatever alternatives can be brought together to offset it,” he said. “The worst thing you can do is not communicate.”

Veneziano is a teacher at Madison Junior High School and the girls varsity basketball coach at Madison Area Memorial High School. He has served three terms on the board and is in his third year as the board’s chairman.

Like Foss, Veneziano cited the Madison Business Park as a good place for expansions, and also said that as a current board member he has worked to make downtown Madison more business-friendly. Up for consideration at town meeting is a property maintenance ordinance that would increase penalties for properties that are not kept to a minimum standard.

“We’re trying to bring in these rules for people’s properties to help their neighbors and establish a minimum standard for what we want to see in Madison,” he said. “It’s a very subjective thing because people have different views of what it should look like, but we have to protect people who live in the area.”

In response to Moody’s comments about giving residents more say over issues such as recycling and the Police Department consolidation, Veneziano said he understood Moody’s concerns but said residents were given an opportunity to weigh in on both issues at public hearings and meetings.

“I think we’ve done a good job of getting public opinion,” Veneziano said. “At some point you have to make a decision on what to present at Town Meeting. I think we’ve done that and we’ve had opportunity for people to say how they feel.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.