Luke Vander Linden, the Republican challenger for town board, joined his opponents, David Gabrielson and Chris Burdick, Democrats, at a candidate forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters Wednesday night in Bedford.
The incumbents in the race for Bedford’s town board came under fire from their opponent for
But this was not a bare-knuckle street fight of a debate—aside from a few moments that could be characterized as tense, but not acrimonious—bonhomie ruled the day in this political forum marked by candidates respectfully disagreeing on some issues, agreeing on others and even sharing a running joke throughout the evening over the moderator’s mispronunciation of ‘Vander Linden.’
Keeping taxes low while maintaining services surfaced as the top issue—as it had just an hour before during the that preceded the forum for municipal candidates. But more than answering any one question, the incumbents found themselves defending their decision on the tax cap override.
Gabrielson and Burdick both described the lengthy discussions they’d had with a bipartisan board prior to their vote and cited a potential default on bonds sold to finance the water filtration plant if not for a cap. For his part, Vander Linden faulted their timing and said they could have waited until the budget process was further along.
Watch the video clips posted with this story for more on that conversation.
When asked what problems in town needed the most attention, Vander Linden raised the tax cap override vote again.
“When I go door to door talking to people, they’re talking about how the town needs to do it’s part to keep the tax bill low,” he said. “I saw a board that rushed to pass the override…when you exist in this kind of government bubble mentality you need a fresh perspective.”
But Burdick painted a picture of a board that had come to two percent conclusions “long before they became law,” a message echoed by Gabrielson.
“Luke says we are more interested in maintaining bureaucracy but we are interested in maintaining services that the town depends on, [like] senior citizen programs and roads. Everyone has something they like and it falls to us to balance all of that. We have paid real attention to minimizing taxes,” he said.
They were asked about the open space tax and each of the candidates reiterated their positions
On the issue of communications, all three candidates agreed the town board could do more.
“We can use low-cost technology, a better website, collect cell [phone numbers], emails, use social media like Facebook and Twitter,” said Vander Linden, who sent a $50 robocall to locals prior to the tax cap public hearing and explained that inexpensive ideas are sometimes the most engaging.
Burdick cited the board’s accomplishments in moving town communications forward, including webcasting board meetings and having an email subscription list through the town’s website. “We have made progress with our Republican colleagues on the board,” he said.
Campaigns are winding down with less than two weeks until the general elections. Burdick will appear on the Democratic, Independence and Conservative party lines; Gabrielson on the Democratic and Independence party lines and Vander Linden is running on the Republican and Conservative party ticket.