LITTLETON — Although the town meeting election is more than four months away, one Littleton resident is already gearing up for a run for the Littleton Select Board.
Linda MacNeil, a Littleton Water and Light commissioner since June and a former Littleton Planning Board member for nearly two decades, publicly announced her candidacy on Thursday, during an interview with The Caledonian-Record.
She is running for the three-year seat that will be vacated by Selectman Milton Bratz, who was appointed to the board in April following the resignation of former Selectman Chad Stearns.
Bratz agreed to serve until town meeting 2022 when the seat will go to an open election.
“I gave myself to the end of October to make a decision and last week I made the decision,” said MacNeil. “I’m going to go ahead and do it, and I think it’s the right move for me, and hopefully, the right move for the town. I’m going to throw my hat in the ring and see what happens.”
In speaking with several business owners about running for the board, MacNeil, a Littleton native who worked for New England Wire Technologies for 21 years before retiring in April, said she received positive feedback.
She outlined several priorities if elected.
MacNeil plans to apply her accounting background to help ensure that the town is run as smoothly as it can be and she will look closely at town numbers and financials to make sure the community is getting the best bang for the buck.
Advancing and putting into place capital improvement projects, which she is familiar with from serving on the planning board (for the last several years serving as that board’s chair) is another priority.
Then there is the recent issue of the town offices.
For the better part of two decades, the offices have been housed on the upper floor of the Bank of New Hampshire, but the town was notified several months ago that the rent that had been $8,100 annually will now jump to more than $40,000 a year.
“We need to find a new place to put the town offices or stay where we are and negotiate a lease that is a decent amount,” said MacNeil.
Another issue she will face will be the ongoing litigation at Grafton Superior Court between the town and Littleton Water and Light.
The town, which filed the legal action and is supported in its position by the state, argues that LWL is a town department that is not complying with the Municipal Budget Act and it needs to produce its monthly and year-end financials and any excess revenues to the town for review and present its annual budget to voters for approval.
LWL argues it is an independent entity under its charter and New Hampshire statute.
The litigation could be resolved by May of 2022, through a trial before a judge, but MacNeil hopes to see a resolution that comes sooner, and without it going to court.
MacNeil said she would be recusing herself from any LWL vote when it comes down the pike.
“There will be no conflict of interest and no appearance of a conflict of interest,” she said. “That is what I did on the planning board and will do here.”
MacNeil will not be the first Littleton resident to serve simultaneously as both a member of the Select Board and a commissioner of Water and Light.
She is preceded by Schuyler Sweet and Eddy Moore.
In making any decision, MacNeil said her philosophy is to listen to everyone and to gather all of the relevant data and information and make a decision without dragging anything out.
“Obviously, I don’t know all of the ins and outs of being a selectman and will discover that if and when I’m elected,” said MacNeil. “I will take each decision as it comes, and after much data and information as I can gather, will make an intelligent decision and the right decision for the town. Littleton is a great town, and it can be better. We have all of the right things going for us.”
The first day for residents to formally file declarations for candidacy is Jan. 19 and the last day is Jan. 28.