The two candidates for town treasurer seeking one three-year seat are incumbent Stephen Gilligan and challenger Julie Dunn. Here are their answers to five questions asked at Candidates' Night on Thursday, March 20, covering whether the office should be elected or appointed, software spending, debt plan for revamping schools and support for the Community Preservation Act:
In his introduction, the treasurer since 2006 focused on his experience, and how that would support the expected rebuilding of Arlington High School. He also noted the initiation of online bill payments for town residents in 2008 and that online improvements were expected by mid-May.
Dunn, a grants and cost-containment administrator for the town's public schools, cited her 14-year banking experience, her role as a founder of the schools' foundation and her desire to see advancements in online bill paying.
No. 1: Do you support an appointed or elected treasurer?
Dunn said she is pleased about the decision last year to keep the job elected, because it has allowed her to run.
"The bigger questions," she said, is how the work of the office is done and whether there is collaboration with all departments.
Gilligan, a former selectman who had a long career as a systems engineer, appealed to history. He said the elected-vs.-appointed issue has been debated since 1952, when the Arlington's Town Manager Act was adopted, and discussed since 2006.
"I'm against nitpicking changes to town government," he said, adding he supports a charter commission looking at any proposed alterations to the office.
No. 2: How much have you spent [or would you spend] to improve software?
Gilligan estimated he spends $10,000 annually on the town's ICS, or integrated collection system. He said there is no predetermined amount.
He said that since 2012, he has advocated to the town manager taking a coordinated approach to the system, "not piecemeal."
Dunn said she agreed with taking whole-system view, adding the importance of working together with a team.
She said she "very concerned about the risk of home-built software." She added that the treasurer's 2006 website "says same things as now." She did not provide a proposed budget number for software.
No. 3: How would you address a debt plan for the proposed revamping of Arlington High School and Minuteman?
Dunn said she would maintain Arlington's AAA bond rating, provided by Standard & Poor's, via a team approach to issues.
Gilligan said that, with an eye toward easing the burden on taxpayers, he would focus on the basics of borrowing. "There is more than one way" to repay and refinance.
No. 4: Would you support a ballot question about the Community Preservation Act (CPA)?
Gilligan said the CPA has many facets. "I will implement any vote taken by the town [residents]," he said.
He defended the town's in-house software by saying his office has a "100-percent collection rate" using it.
Dunn said the CPA presents "an interesting opportunity," which involved many steps.
She said the issues must be studied in-depth, with research into best practices and learning the impact on other communities. Citing project-management experience, she said she would help the community come to consensus
Both candidates expressed no direct support.
No. 5: Why do you want to be the treasurer?
In closing, Dunn said she wants residents to have e-billing. Gilligan said, "I have been problem solver my entire professional life."
League of Women Voters' Guide
Candidates' Night video broadcast
ACMi schedule for profiles, debates, election
Complete unofficial ballot, including Town Meeting members
This story was published Sunday, March 23, 2014.
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