LITTLETON -- Selectman Jim Karr believes helping balance the budget without a tax override and promoting economic development in the town center are some of his biggest accomplishments. And he wants to make sure the town stays the course.
"My objective is to bring the town to the next level," Karr said as he asked residents to re-elect him at the Town Election Debates on Wednesday night.
Fiscal health and balanced developments are selectman candidate Christopher Simone's goals, as well. But he believes the board needs to make the decision-making process more transparent and seek feedback from more residents.
"My special interest is everyone in Littleton," Simone said.
In the meantime, selectman candidate Melissa Hebert hopes to use her corporate-leadership skills to help build a consensus to move her hometown forward.
"I have a positive attitude. I'm not confrontational. I'm someone that brings people together," Hebert said.
Nine candidates vying with each other for two open slots each on the Board of Selectmen, School Committee, Planning Board and Board of Health touted their skills and appealed for votes as the Littleton Rotary Club hosted the annual debates. This year's election features five contested races involving 14 candidates.
The three candidates seeking two seats on the Library Trustees did not appear at the debates.
Running for the School Committee are incumbent committee members Daryl Baker and Alex Pratt, with political newcomer Robert Malnati challenging them. Planning Board incumbent Peter Scott will face a challenge from former board member Janet Lavigne. Running for the Board of Health are incumbent Board of Health member Gino Frattallone and political newcomers Cecile Menard and Bradley Mitchell.
Baker, an engineer, touted his successful push to have committee-meeting packets posted online in advance and his work on school safety and policies, as well as data-driven teaching strategies, while Pratt, a Northeastern University student, emphasized his successful efforts to bring the District's attention to mental health issues surrounding high school students and his knowledge of local and state education systems.
"(The key is) how we move as a system and organization. That's what I can bring to this board," Baker said of his leadership skills.
Pratt reminded people that he had promised he can be reached at any time.
"I upheld the promise about accessibility," Pratt said, pledging to remain approachable.
Malnati, an engineer who works as a substitute teacher in Littleton, stressed his insight into classroom reality and vowed to help make Littleton schools an even higher-performing district.
Malnati said there is a perception among students and parents that Littleton schools aren't as good as they actually are.
"My long-range goal is to see the Littleton school system rank among (the) top 100 nationally," Malnati said.
Karr, who works for the state Department of Correction, overseeing the manufacturing operations of inmates, stressed his budget skills.
"I'm good with numbers. I understand budget," Karr said.
Simone touted his background as a certified corporate ethics and compliance professional. He also stressed the importance of keeping taxes affordable to all residents.
"We need to have more open conversation about needs vs. wants," Simone said.
"We saw secret meetings. There were meetings to which there were no minutes," Simone said. Simone, a community blogger, pledged to create an atmosphere that encourages residents to participate more in local government.
Hebert, who works in the computer industry, stressed her experience as a corporate manager and her degree in economics. Her experience in cost-benefit analysis should come in handy, Hebert said. She said she wants to keep the town as a good place for children to grow up.