Before a rare midwinter election, on Feb. 18, voters in Truro will get to hear from two select board candidates this Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 6 p.m. at town hall. Stephanie Rein and Karen Tosh are vying for a three-month term to replace the late Maureen Burgess, who died in November.
What can happen in three months? Quite a bit. The select board is expected to appoint the Walsh property committee. This group will plan what happens to 70 acres of undeveloped land the town purchased last year for $5.1 million.
Ultimately, town meeting will decide on the actual use. But all the proposals will be brought to you by this committee.
Truro is the least developed, most rural town on Cape Cod, where open space is highly valued by residents. It also has sky-high property values. The Walsh property committee selection is a high-stakes moment both for housing advocates and those concerned with conservation.
At the same time, Truro regulatory boards are reviewing the “Cloverleaf” project, a 40-unit affordable housing development, which has met with opposition, including warnings of blue baby syndrome resulting from nitrate contamination and other statements from planning board member Peter Herridge, which proved to be false.
With that in mind we have a few suggested questions for candidates Rein and Tosh.
- What is your top priority for the Walsh land? How do you balance the need for affordable housing with a desire for open space?
- Since you are both in favor of the Cloverleaf project, how do you respond to objections raised about it?
- To Karen Tosh: You are a member of the planning board, which has been criticized as anti-business and anti-affordable housing. You have said you are sometimes an outlier on this board. Can you provide specific examples when you voted differently than other planning board members?
- To Stephanie Rein: You have said that you may not run for re-election to the select board seat in May if you win this contest. Is there something specific that you would like to accomplish in this three-month period?
- In previous statements to the press, you have both claimed an interest in helping working people. Tosh said she provides mediation services as a way to offer affordable legal guidance. Rein said she is running in order to help those who live and work in Truro. What policies would you propose?
- What infrastructure improvements do you support for Truro? Sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, and/or expanded cable and internet access?
We hope the town takes this election seriously, despite the brevity of the select board term. Even in local politics, three months can be surprisingly consequential.