Three candidates are vying for one open three-year seat on the Littleton Board of Selectmen.
Incumbent Selectman Carrie Gendreau, the current board chair, is seeking a second term.
In the race are Chris Sweeney, a 2018 Board of Selectmen candidate and current member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, and Rudy Gelsi, a former member of the budget committee who has run for the Board of Selectmen several times since 2014.
All candidates were given an opportunity to participate in a written question-and-answer interview.
A Littleton native, Gendreau returned to Littleton to raise a family after earning her undergraduate degree.
She later earned a master’s degree in organizational management and leadership.
Gendreau is also a director at Woodsville Guaranty Savings Bank, a role that she said gives her a closer insight into the financial aspect of town management; and is a certified travel industry specialist, which, along with a Granite State Ambassador certification, is a designation that she said helps her with promoting Littleton’s tourism industry.
Gendreau served as president of the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce for two years and served on the board of directors of the New Hampshire Retail Association.
More than a decade ago, she, her husband and daughter started Emma and Co. Consignment Boutique in Littleton, and sold the store in 2020.
“I understand and appreciate what hard work goes into having a bricks-and-mortar facility,” said Gendreau.
She currently serves on the advisory board of White Mountains Community College and has taught at the college level for more than three decades.
“Being a selectman is also about being people-oriented,” said Gendreau. “My 30-plus years of teaching at the college level has given me an appreciation for the value of continued education and the value of skills you don’t get out of a textbook — listening, problem solving, communication, goal setting, teamwork, respect for others, gratitude, etc. … My experience in many areas of life gives me an opportunity to see situations, challenges and opportunities from another’s perspective.”
Why are you seeking a second term on the Board of Selectmen?
Although there were some projects brought in for a successful landing over the past three years, there are many more endeavors (all requiring a shared effort) that I would like to see continue or brought to a positive completion.
Continuity would be the second reason I would like to be reelected. There were numerous changes in our town administration and some changes in our department heads. Having consistency and stability on the Select Board would be beneficial.
What are your priorities in a second term and what are some near- and long-term goals?
We will hire a new town manager. This is certainly a top priority. Along with the new town manager and the other Select Board members, I would like to take an even closer look at policies, unnecessary spending, and even more transparency to the taxpayers.
Littleton has amazing energy. We respect and have preserved the past and are seeking harmony with the new at a well-balanced pace. I would like to see that continue. I would like to see the school and the town continue working together on community efforts, education and employment opportunities.
Littleton has a need for our young adults to volunteer their creative talents in various roles. I’d like to be able to see us tap into that.
We have numerous projects that will require the collaborative effort of our town leaders, NCIC, various town departments, business owners, elected officials, and other stakeholders. I see myself in a supporting role in much of this.
What do you feel are some successes on the board during your first term?
My first year as Selectmen was enlightening, as well as an enormous learning curve. I spent time in most of the town departments getting to know our remarkable employees.
My second year was going to conferences and learning more of what it is to be a selectman.
I was given the opportunity to participate on the planning board. It was rewarding to see Littleton’s master plan come to fruition from the hard work of our Planning Board in cooperation with Resilience Planning and Design.
This was the year we made the decision to move forward with our own EMS. I had the advantage of being a part of this exciting choice.
I found that much of my involvement was in a supporting role for the various projects that the town was moving forward on.
This past year (my third year) was challenging. COVID changed the tapestry of everything we were accustomed to. With Selectman Roger Emerson’s inspiration, we decided as a board to incorporate a “Citizen of the Month” recognition program. It’s still in its infancy stage, but we hope to move forward with more recognitions.
Sweeney is a native of Nashville, Tenn., who moved to Littleton seven years ago.
“I had the rare opportunity to choose where I wanted to live and I chose Littleton because I saw the potential and opportunity that it had to offer,” he said. “I was reminded of the small towns in the Colorado mountains that I had visited 15 years ago.”
For six years, he lived in the West, moving first to Montana and later enrolling in the National Outdoor Leadership School and continuing his education at Arizona’s Prescott College, where he studied early childhood and experiential education with a focus on social change.
“I taught third grade for a year before realizing that it wasn’t for me,” said Sweeney. “I moved back to Nashville in 2009 and took a job at a bar/music venue and ended up managing it for five years. In my free time, I was the community outreach/organizer for a nonprofit organization called SoundForest. We raised money through the music industry to plant trees. During my time there our organization planted over half a million trees and I personally planted over a thousand.”
Projects included planting for reforestation, traffic calming, and neighborhood beautification.
He also founded and co-chaired another nonprofit called The Nashville Bicycle Alliance.
“We worked with town officials to implement bicycle infrastructure and with police to educate Nashvillians about safe cycling,” said Sweeney. “The NBA was later absorbed into another nonprofit, Walk Bike Nashville. I knew I was destined for the mountains though, so I set off on another year-long road trip visiting small mountain towns from here to Juneau, Alaska. A college friend had recently relocated to Bethlehem and when I visited him here I fell in love with the area. I moved here a year later.”
Sweeney, who made his first run for selectman in 2018, when he was defeated by Gendreau, has served as a Littleton ZBA member for six months.
Why are you seeking a term on the Board of Selectmen and what would your priorities and goals be if elected?
I think more young people need to take a stake in the dealings of our town because it is OUR town. We don’t need the older generation dictating how our town should be run. It should be ours to shape as we see fit for us and our children. Some people want to keep Littleton from growing, but Littleton is growing so we should put those things into place to make sure it grows to the benefit of all residents.
I believe that the select board needs input from younger people, but many of those people don’t want to, or have the time to sit through meetings. I want the selectboard to be more transparent, and as a board member I will increase community involvement in decision-making processes through use of the Internet.
As a selectboard member, I envision working not just with Littleton residents, but people from other towns also. Littleton is the hub for this area of the North Country and we need to treat it as such. We need to plan and strategize for the future of our town and our area so that our actions are not reactionary, but well thought out.
I am a critical thinker with a worldview not currently represented on our board. I am not an ‘out of towner’ who wants to make Littleton something that it’s not. I want Littleton to live up to its potential, everything that it can be.
Gelsi did not respond.