Croydon Board Seat Draws Two Candidates
Voters Also Asked to Weigh in On Town Road Improvements
Voting for officers will take place by Australian ballot on Tuesday, March 12. Croydon Town Meeting will be held on Saturday, March 16, at 9 a.m. in the town hall. Attendees will act upon 12 warrant articles.
Croydon — A contested Selectboard race appears next week’s most interesting event, overshadowing a dozen warrant articles to be decided at Town Meeting.
Two-time incumbent John Clements is up for re-election and is being challenged by political neophyte John Enos, a man known to occasionally dress in buckskin and throw tomahawks.
Clements, 82, is a retired transportation engineering consultant who began forays into town government with a stint as a Peterborough, N.H., selectman during the 1960s. He later served 10 years as New Hampshire’s highway commissioner and a term as chairman of Croydon’s Zoning Board of Adjustment. The seven-year town resident has worked for Newport firearms manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Peterborough’s New Hampshire Ball Bearings.
“If the Selectboard has had any major accomplishments, it’s that Croydon is usually in the bottom two or three towns for New Hampshire in property tax rates,’’ said Clements, who has served consecutive, three-year terms. “Right now, it’s $13 per $1,000 of assessed value and that includes the school, county and town taxes. We try to keep the taxes down and still make it a nice place to live.”
Enos, 58, strongly disagrees and said he was inspired to challenge Clements because of dissatisfaction with the assessed value of his land and house.
“In this economy, where housing values have gone down, our taxes have been raised three years in a row,’’ said Enos, adding that he paid for an independent appraisal last year that showed his property had decreased in value by $10,000 during the previous 10 months. “The people they hired to do the (town) assessments aren’t willing to budge an inch. I get the definite impression from those people that they need to make the town money so they can keep their position.”
Although Enos said he is unable to work at a full-time job because of a disability, he is an enthusiastic hobbyist in the area of making stone tools and weapons, particularly those used throughout the U.S. during the 1800s. Although health issues have slowed his travels recently, he previously demonstrated the craft nationwide at conventions while dressed in a handmade buckskin suit. He also participated in tomahawk-throwng competitions.
Enos last worked in 2000 as a telephone technician and said he spends most days with household projects, including growing vegetables on his kitchen table at this time of year. This gives the likes of tomatoes, onions and squash a head start in warm conditions and allows for easy transfer to the outdoor soil later in the spring. He said he doesn’t have a structured campaign, per se, but is trying to get his points across through conversation.
“I’m just spreading the highlights of my positions by word of mouth,’’ Enos said of his campaigning style. “I have no idea what kind of shot I have and I’m relatively unknown, but it’s not like I’m running for senator. I’m giving this a shot and if it doesn’t work, I may try it again next year.
“People deserve to be listened to when they come in to talk to the Select Board. They’re polite and all of that, but I don’t think they give people’s concerns about taxes the attention it deserves.”
The proposed operating budget for the coming year is $403,650, an increase of $16,310 from last year’s.
Among the articles on this year’s Town Meeting warrant are two for road repair, one on Loverin Hill Road and another on Cash Street. The former requests $32,000 for “crack fill and chip seal” and the latter is for $50,000 in paving and repaving funds.
Clements said Loverin Hill Road is paved but its surface would be strengthened by a process in which liquid asphalt and crushed rock are spread over it, then pressed down with a roller.
“It’s cheaper than paving and it keeps the potholes full and stops water from getting into the cracks,” Clements said.
A section of Cash Street running from the top of Morgan Hill down to the bridge at Loon Lake is mostly dirt, Clements said. The amount of money and time needed to grade the street has become excessive, he added.
“A lot of folks who live on that side of town and even some from Sunapee and Newport use (Cash Street) as a shortcut to Route 10 and for getting to work,” Clements said.
Asked via email what the amount to be raised by taxes would be if Croydon voters approved the proposed warrant as written, Treasurer Charleen Little deflected the question to the Selectboard. Clements said he didn’t know the exact figures, but that he expected this year’s municipal tax rate to increase no more than 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $50 on a $200,000 home. This does not include the school or county portions of the tax bill, which will be set later this year.
Clements is anticipating smooth sailing at Town Meeting.
“I think (the warrant) is fairly benign, but you never know,” Clements said. “The Selectboard has always enjoyed really good support from the town, but people always have something to say and you never know what’s going to come up.”
Tris Wykes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3227.