Five Candidates Running for Two Seats on Board of Selectmen
Five candidates are running for two seats on the board of selectmen in the upcoming town election on April 2. Incumbent Gerald Schwall, a Republican candidate, is running for his second term on the board. Michael Costello, who is also a Republican and a former selectman, is running for his third term. They will be facing three newcomers – Craig Chapman, Jonathan Clark and Antonio Oliveira. Chapman, a North Attleboro police officer, filed nomination papers last year, but withdrew from the race. Oliveira, a local businessman, is making his second bid for the board after losing the election last year. Clark is a newcomer to Rehoboth politics. Incumbent selectman Susan Pimental is not seeking re-election.
Profiles of four of the candidates follow in alphabetical order. Clark did not get back to us before the paper went to print.
Craig Chapman, a police officer in North Attleboro for 24 years, is running for his first term on the board of selectman. He served in the U.S. Army Massachusetts National Guard for 27 years and was deployed three times (Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay.) He has been Union President of the North Attleboro Patrol Officers Association for 11 years. He also serves on the town’s Personnel Board.
Chapman is running because he wants to serve the town.
“I want to be more directly involved in the community that I am raising my children in, as well as to be able to better understand and advocate for all our residents, businesses, and employees. My experiences and knowledge in the Military, Law Enforcement, and various elected and appointed positions give me a very diverse background to be able to approach and resolve issues in a positive and professional manner and provide a fresh perspective, which will be an asset to the Board and the town,” Chapman said.
Chapman’s top priorities are to balance economic growth while maintaining Rehoboth’s rural character, and to increase incoming revenues. “We need to continue to work on balancing economic growth in a right to farm community. Rehoboth is a quaint and peaceful community with a nostalgic aura. These are some of the most attractive characteristics to anyone who knows Rehoboth. We don't want those to be infringed upon. In doing so, this would also help to protect our precious resources such as our water supply, in an all well water community,” Chapman said.
Chapman says the town needs to be creative and find new revenue streams in order to sustain the town’s buildings and services for the future. “We need to increase our incoming revenues so we can continue to support our operating budget, allowing us to properly invest back into our community and where we need it most. This will keep our residents, businesses, and employees here, instead of relocating to other communities,” Chapman said.
Chapman says the town needs a new municipal center because the current town hall and public safety buildings are in disrepair. “We need a new municipal complex to provide a safe, healthy environment for our residents and employees for many years to come. The Town Offices, Fire Department, and Police Department are all antiquated and in rough condition. They are on the brink of becoming a health risk and are in desperate need of replacement,” Chapman said. “It’s going to cost money to fix or repair. We need to invest in the town’s buildings because it will be less expensive now than it will be in the future and we will have buildings that will last another 50 years,” Chapman said.
Chapman has not lived in Rehoboth very long, but his grandparents lived in town for 70 years and he often spent time here. “I may be a new resident, but my heart has been here a long time. This is where my heart is, with the town and the residents, and I want to do everything we can to keep the makeup of the town true to its roots,” Chapman said.
Michael Costello, Highway Superintendent and former selectman, is running for his third term on the board. Costello, a Republican, says he is running because he wants to continue to serve the town he loves. “It’s my love for the town and the people who live here. I want to make sure the board continues in the direction it’s going,” Costello said.
When Costello first became selectman, the atmosphere in town was divisive and Costello says he worked with the board to change that. “When I started on the board a few years ago, it was an explosive situation. We were able to reverse that. Residents are now able to approach selectmen with their issues and concerns much easier,” Costello said.
Costello has confirmed that, if elected, he will be able to continue to serve as the town’s Highway Superintendent. Because selectman is an elected position and highway superintendent is an appointed position, Costello says he can do both. “If people in town feel I should serve as selectman again, there’s no problem at all. However, there is a rule that you cannot receive two paychecks. If I’m elected, I will have to forfeit the selectman’s compensation,” Costello says.
Also, when a highway issue comes up before the board, Costello will excuse himself as a voting member and only provide information and answer questions on any highway business brought before the board.
Costello’s top two priorities are updating the school department’s regional agreement and addressing the problems with the town hall and public safety buildings, which he says are in “dire need of repair and/or replacement.” “It’s overdue for the regional agreement to be revised,” Costello said. A committee was established several years ago to revise the regional agreement, but the project is ongoing.
Costello feels that better communication is needed between all the parties – the Dighton board of selectmen, Rehoboth selectmen and the D-R Regional School Committee. “Another reason I want to run is I feel that communication needs to be improved,” Costello said. “We need to be bipartisan and work together and get this resolved in the best interests of both towns. We can’t go to town meeting with a regional agreement if everyone isn’t on board,” Costello said.
Costello says the town should reconsider the proposal for a new municipal complex. “We need a new town hall and public safety building. It’s an immediate need for those buildings to be replaced,” Costello said. “There isn’t a public building in town that has drinkable water. There are also structural issues, mold and other hazards that could potentially harm our employees,” Costello said.
Costello pledges to continue to work in the best interest of the town and the people if he is elected. “I’ve always treated people with the utmost respect. I always listen and find a solution, or find where we can get the solution. I’ve always done that and I will continue to do that,” Costello said.
Antonio Oliveira, a small business owner in town, is running for his first term on the Board of Selectmen.
He is seeking a seat on the board to serve the town and its residents. “I am running so I can assist the town with better decisions on moving forward to the future,” Oliveira said.
Although he doesn’t have experience in politics, Oliveira says his business experience would be an asset to the Board and the town. “As a local business owner I’m faced with many decisions. Being able to decide what is best in my future and my employees’ future would help the town moving forward,” Oliveira said.
Oliveira’s top priorities are public safety and education. He has two children in the school system and wants to make sure they continue to receive the highest quality education. “Children are the future of the town,” Oliveira said. He believes selectmen should work with the school department to complete the revision to the regional school agreement. “The regional agreement should have been revised a long time ago. The bottom line has been money and we need to come to an agreement between the towns and look at the cost factor per town,” Oliveira said.
He also believes the town needs a new town hall and public safety building. “There is a need for new buildings. I want to see the new buildings built if the numbers are right, but not combined into one municipal complex. The project must be cost effective. They could be built over the course of time so it does not overburden taxpayers,” Oliveira said.
Oliveira says selectmen should work for the people. “I want to work for the people. I’ll always have an open door policy and always listen to residents’ concerns without supporting special interests,” Oliveira said.
Gerald Schwall is seeking his second term on the board of selectmen. Schwall has served as Vice Chairman of the board for two years and previously served for five years on the Finance Committee. His other experience includes Chairman of the Revenue Enhancement and Expense Reduction Task Force; and member of the D-R Regional School District Financial Advisory Committee, among other positions.
Schwall feels it is the board of selectmen’s job “to represent and do the work of all of the people, not just some of the people.”
“I am running to represent all citizens of Rehoboth by executing the decisions made at Town Meeting; insuring our Town Bylaws are administered fairly; allocating our town resources to enhance the quality of life, safety and security of our residents, and to exercise judgment and advocate for policies that will insure the town continues to move forward in a positive direction,” Schwall said.
Schwall’s top priorities are: to work with the members of the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Committee and the Dighton Board of Selectmen to revise the Regional School Agreement; and to make sure tougher safeguards are put in place to insure the health and safety of residents. “We successfully partnered with the Citizens Against the Rehoboth Compressor Station (CARCS) group and the Planning Board to author and advocate for a new Town Bylaw which affords further protection to our citizens against the environmental, health and safety impacts of large scale projects proposed for development in our town,” Schwall said.
Schwall also wants to bring a revised Regional School Agreement to both towns at Town Meeting.
“The current regional agreement has not been amended since 1987, and does not adequately address the requirements of the 1993 Education Reform Act,” Schwall said. “The revised Agreement must enhance the quality of education for our children and allocate the financial responsibility for providing a quality public education in a manner that is fair and equitable to the taxpayers of both towns,” Schwall continued.
One of Schwall’s most rewarding accomplishments as selectmen was working with the team to negotiate new contracts with union and contract employees. When he joined the board in April 2015, all the union contracts had expired and they managed to negotiate new contracts in a timely manner. Schwall expressed disappointment that the board did not secure voter approval for the proposed new municipal complex, but says the board is still working on the project. “We are in the process of acquiring land and making revisions to the building plans to address the feedback we have received. The Board is also conducting a series of workshops to determine the best way to move the process forward and we encourage anyone with suggestions to contact us or attend one of the workshops to voice their opinion,” Schwall said.
It is important to Schwall that the board continues to conduct its business in an open and transparent manner. “When I was elected, I promised to represent everyone, not just one or two interests and that I would be fair. I promised to always make the best decisions to benefit the town and that’s what I’ve done,” Schwall said.