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What do selectmen candidates stand for? Some hits and misses

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3 of 5 selectmen candidates ignore requests for comment

Arlington selectmen candidates have a number of ways they can get their messages out, yet the general public may remain in the dark about what they key issues are and where a hopeful stands. A review of outlets and their messages reflects a few hits and more missed opportunities.


NEWS ANALYSIS

Each of the five selectmen candidates has a website. What does each show about issues and where the candidate stands on them? Here is a review, presented in the order the candidate is on the ballot.

Joseph E. Curran

As his link to issues makes clear, Curran opposes overrides, supports generation of new tax sources, wants the formula for state reformed, appears lukewarm toward recommendations to change town financial management, backs public input on the Mass. Ave. Corridor project and lacks enthusiam for requiring residents to pay for curbside pickup.

Much remains to be discussed about how candidate Curran, or anyone, would achieve new taxes or reform local aid. Voters hope all in office would work with Arlington's Beacon Hill delegation.

Robert L. Tosi Jr.

His site focuses on his experience and endorsements. It does not have a link to issues.

Maria Romano

Her site lists a number of bullet points reflecting her business background and has no link to issues.

Joseph A. Curro Jr.

His link to issues offers the most clearly fleshed-out list among the selectmen candidates.

In summary, Curro supports efforts to reorganize town financial management (and he speaks as a member of the Long-Term Planning Committee), backs economic development, wants to be a voice for all Arlington (a theme that Maria Romano uses) and offers savvy on the state level (as an ex-legislative aide and as one who has testified at state budget hearings).

Steven M. Byrne

As a Beacon Hill aide with political background, he knows that it is essential to state his issues.

Byrne targets the town's overwhelmingly residential tax base, supports attracting "green" startup businesses, backs restoring local aid, and responds in a generally positive way to suggested changes in town financial management.

If he is elected, he would have to be more specific than writing "there is a great deal of suggested change which the Town should embrace." Like Curran, Byrne opposes MBTA service cuts, but the selectmen have already issued a strong public statement to that effect.

Other message options

Apart from slick mailed fliers, candidates push their messages via newspapers, news website, cable television and the League of Women Voters.

The Advocate's coverage of 2012 town election campaign has been spotty at best. In general, the newspaper cedes any quick-opening coverage, such as brief profiles about those who have taken out papers, to online news, such as Patch, YourArlington or Boston.com's Arlington site. It does so even though the newspaper has its own website, WickedLocal/Arlington, which tends to republish what is in the weekly paper.

Instead of reporting about candidates, because it lacks staff, The Advocate devotes a good deal of space to letters to the editor. That's where Arlington residents learn the most about those running. Of course, letters include a writer's opinion.

Where can an Arlington voter find nonpartisan information?

All news outlets, online and print, are potential sources. ACMI, Arlington's cable-television studio, has two limited offerings to consider.

One is a series of major-candidate profiles, which are merely brief advertisements for each.

The other offers what the studio calls "debates" involving candidates for selectmen and School Committee. They are not debates. Besides an introduction and conclusion, each candidate answers two questions from Advocate Editor Andy Levin while a reporter takes notes for a story. There is no follow-up, and the candidates do not engage.

See the news story here >> (headline translation: The candidates are *not* critical of cable access).

See a schedule of profiles and forums, which run through April 10.

The League of Women Voters amounts to something of a last chance for the public to learn, in a nonpartisan way, where all major candidates stand, via its guide and Candidates' Night.

Read the guide here and decide for yourself whether you know enough to vote after each addresses one question related to town-school financial reorganization.

To be fair, this year's election has the most candidates since 1993, and the guide has limited space.

For Candidates' Night, starved-for-information voters should head over to Town Hall before 8 p.m. Thursday, March 29. Be ready to hear safe answers to fairly safe questions.

Conspiracy theorists may look for more than that, but don't expect it.


2012 Town election information: Town website | YourArlington


This story was first published Tuesday, March 27, 2012.

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