ROCKLAND – The race for selectman, school committee, board of health and park commissioner are all contested in Rockland’s April 9 town election.
Rockland selectman candidates
There are three candidates for competing for two seats on the Rockland Board of Selectmen, none who have previously held the position; Lori Childs, of North Avenue, John Ellard, of Magnolia Drive and Donna M. Shortall, of Union Street.
Childs, a mother of four and a Girl Scout leader, said she is running as a way to give back to the community. She served on the town’s finance committee for three years.
Major issues for her included taxes, water and sewer. While not against development, she does not support the proposed Shingle Mill Chapter 40B apartment complex.
“I just see a lot of things happening in Rockland that people don’t want,” Childs said.
Ellard, a father of two who attended Rockland schools, was on the town’s finance committee and was the chairman of the committee. He was town treasurer for nine and a half years. Ellard believes his “understanding of how a municipality works” makes him fit for the job.
He hopes to address Rockland’s infrastructure needs, including the water treatment plant, the sewer plant and potentially a new fire house. Ellard wants to be frugal.
“We need to find ways to be smarter with our with our money …,” Ellard said. “… Squeeze every nickel out of the budget that we can so that we can provide the level of services that the people of Rockland deserve without taxing them out of their homes.”
Shortall, a lifelong resident of Rockland, has worked in the school system for 12 years as a paraprofessional. She was town clerk for more than five years and retired in December 2020. She is running for selectman because she loves the town and hopes her experience will allow her to bring a different viewpoint.
Preparing the sewer plant for the present and future is a main issue for her, she said. She emphasizes providing services to all residents of Rockland.
“I feel very strongly that everyone needs to be taken care of,” Shortall said.
Rockland School Committee candidates
Emily Davidson, of Smith Lane, and Melissa Mauro-Small, of Heritage Drive, both candidates for reelection, are among three vying for two open spots on the school committee. Michael Quinn, of Pond Street is on the ballot for the first time.
Davidson grew up in Rockland and graduated from the school system in 2011. Along with serving on the school committee, she is a member of Reimagine Rockland, the committee for the elementary school project, the building committee for Phelps Elementary School and was on the planning committee for Fall Fest.
She is running for reelection to remain involved. She said she hopes to see the elementary school project completed.
“To have a good town you need to have a strong school district and revitalize Rockland,” Davidson said.
Mauro-Small has been a resident of Rockland for 12 years and is a pediatrician. She was on active duty in the Air Force for four years and has four kids in the Rockland schools. Mauro-Small ran for the term she is currently finishing because of the mental health crisis she identified in kids.
“I think what I bring to the plate is something that other people don’t, which is a focus on ensuring that we’re meeting the social emotional needs of our kids,” Mauro-Small said.
Quinn has been a resident of Rockland for three years and is a father to three in the school system and three who are home schooled. He was in the Army, has coached Rockland Youth Soccer and is a member of the Rockland Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“The primary reason that I’m running is that I and a lot of other parents just felt like the school committee wasn’t there representing us, advocating for us, or listening to us,” he said.
If elected he plans to advocate for community comment period during the meetings, “medical freedom” with masks, education on paths other than four year colleges, including trade schools, certifications or military recruitment, and transparency on third party influences on the school committee. He also wants to make information on home schooling, as well as the date, time and location of school committee meetings more accessible.
Rockland Park Commissioner candidates
Richard Furlong, of Union Street, and Brian Martin, of Vinton Terrace are running for Rockland Park Commissioner.
Furlong is up for reelection and has been involved in town government for at least 30 years and a resident of Rockland for 58 years, he said. He currently serves as chairman and field coordinator for the recreation department, is a member of the Rockland Eagles and a part-time 911 dispatcher. He was president of Rockland Little League and worked as a firefighter and EMT with the Rockland Fire Department for 36 years.
“We’re just trying to do the best we can for the kids in town … the people, the people of the town,” Furlong said.
He said he will work on the elementary school project and the eventual new turf, the new fencing and lights at the girls’ softball field.
Martin grew up in Rockland and has been a resident for more than 40 years. He has coached youth basketball and softball and is president of the youth softball league. He is a veteran and works for the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department.
If elected he plans to dedicate time to the area surrounding the new school and Reeds Pond, Hartsuff Park and spruce up the fields.
“I hope to accomplish making these fields for the youth programs look respectable to the other towns,” Martin said.
Rockland Board of Health candidates
Two candidates, Michelle Kennedy, of Centre Avenue, and Rita (Margaret) Roche, of Spring Street, are competing for one seat on the Rockland Board of Health.
Kennedy is a lifelong resident of Rockland and a mother of three. Her children have been involved in youth sports and she has been the fundraising director for the youth soccer program and has assisted on the Rockland Holiday Stroll committee. Kennedy wants to work with other community groups as well, such as Keep Rockland Beautiful.
“I always feel like Rockland is chasing a standard and I think it’s time to set a standard,” Kennedy said.
If elected she will assess the budget and hopes to increase communication with residents through open question time, an additional email box for questions, a suggestion box in front of town hall, a possible newsletter and increased use of social media. She wants to go through the Republic contract to make sure it benefits the residents, “tackle” abandoned properties and make sure the office is open more frequently. Kennedy said communication and customer service will be a priority.
Roche grew up in Rockland, graduated from the school system and is a mother of four. She worked as a registered nurse for 25 years at Boston Children’s Hospital.
“I just want to make sure that our town is shown in a way that we can be proud of,” Roche said.
Roche said she will address the trash situation, is passionate about disease control, advocates for “freedom of choice” with masks and the vaccine, and will work to keep the town informed.
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Reach Alyssa Fell at [email protected].
Joe Difazio contributed to this report.