Before next week’s election, two Litchfield men who are running to replace George Thomson — a selectman whose three-year term is coming to a close — are scheduled to speak Thursday night during a public forum.

The candidates are Richard “Ric” Swett, a local goat farmer; and Gary Parker, who didn’t respond to requests for comment. They’re both scheduled to attend the forum from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Central Fire Station. The event is being hosted by a new group that calls itself Litchfield Community Action Coalition.

Voting is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday at the Litchfield Sportsmen’s Club. Also under consideration will be an $18.73 million budget for Regional School Unit 4, which is down 0.37 percent from the current year’s school budget.

Later next week, on June 17, voters also will attend Town Meeting to consider a $2.3 million spending plan that’s been proposed by the Select Board. That plan marks a 4 percent increase over this year’s budget and includes funding for several infrastructure upgrades.

Reached by phone earlier this week, Parker said he was too busy to talk and might call a reporter back. He did not respond immediately to a subsequent phone call Wednesday.

Swett, 53, runs Hummingbird Hill Farms and makes goat milk soap, after serving in the U.S. Army and running a construction surveying company. He also has a master’s degree in business administration from Southern New Hampshire University and until recently coached wrestling at Oak Hill High School.


In response to emailed questions, he said he’s concerned about rising property taxes and would like to “rein in our town’s spending.” The town has stopped providing funding to the Litchfield Community Food Bank this year, and Swett also said he would like those donations to be resumed.

If elected, Swett would consider expanding the Select Board from three to five members, he said. He also would support modernizing the town’s operations and website and would try to create a discounted property tax program that would “reward all residents for choosing Litchfield as a lifelong home.”

Both Swett and Parker are running for office following a divisive year in Litchfield.

Tim Lachapelle was elected to the Select Board one year ago, pledging to make local government more transparent; but after accusing multiple town officials of malfeasance and nepotism, he was recalled from the post last winter in a 167-50 vote. After Lachapelle’s recall, an anonymous Facebook page was created that continues to echo his allegations and criticisms — which local officials say have no merit.

Swett unsuccessfully ran to replace Lachapelle on the Select Board last winter, and now is making his second bid. Swett said he has “no comment” and “no knowledge” about the allegations on that Facebook page, but added, “If elected, I hope to put truth to whatever side is right.”

Some of Lachapelle’s criticism was of the fact that multiple town employees are immediate family members of each other, and Swett said he would support personnel policies that create a level of separation between current employees and potential new hires. He’d also like to define the town’s conflict-of-interest policies clearly, to ensure that contracts are being awarded fairly.



Two candidates are running uncontested for other positions in next week’s election. Jessica Childs is running for another three-year term on the Regional School Unit 4 board of directors. David Blocher is running for another three-year term on the Budget Committee.

There’s a second opening on the Budget Committee and two openings on the Litchfield Academy Community Building board of trustees for which no candidates have registered. Swett said he also would like to be considered as a write-in candidate for the Litchfield Academy board.

On Tuesday, residents also will vote on a proposed $18.73 million school budget for Regional School Unit 4, the school district made up of Litchfield, Sabattus and Wales.

Last year’s school budget was a hard sell for Litchfield voters, who are frustrated that they pay the greatest share of the district’s costs despite having fewer students than Sabattus. The budget was rejected by local voters twice before being passed in September.

Unlike last year, Litchfield’s Budget Committee has said it supports this year’s budget proposal.


According to that proposal, the district would not make any changes to its staffing or programs. But the district was able to remove around $300,000 in spending because it made the final payment on a state-funded bond this year. There will be some unavoidable increases in oil prices, electricity prices and salaries, school officials have said.

The state also has pledged to provide an extra $105,000 in funding to the RSU 4 towns next year.


Following next week’s election, voters will gather again at 10:00 a.m. June 17 at the Sportsmen’s Club for Town Meeting.

Selectmen have proposed a $2.29 million spending plan for next year, which is up 4 percent from this year’s $2.21 million spending plan.

That proposal includes two $50,000 proposals, one for a replacement roof on the Central Fire Department and another for a single-source compactor for the town’s transfer station.


It includes a $2,500 increase in Town Manager Trudy Lamoreau’s salary.

George Thomson, the outgoing selectman, also has proposed a $1,000 salary increase for each incoming selectman, which would be phased in over the next three years. Selectmen currently make $2,000 per year, and if the proposal passes, the winner of Swett and Parker’s race would make $3,000.

Mark Russell, chairman of the Select Board, didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment about the budget proposal Wednesday.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

Twitter: @ceichacker

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