Thurman residents question candidates for top town post

THURMAN - A crowd of town residents peppered five of the six declared candidates for the open town supervisor post with a variety of questions and concerns during a special town held Dec. 5.

The candidates responded by outlining their vision for the future of the town, talking about town finances, offering their qualifications and suggesting how they'd deal with problems citizens face.

Last month, former Thurman Supervisor John Haskell was removed from office following a felony conviction of defrauding the government. Former Deputy

Supervisor Leon Galusha has been acting as supervisor since the conviction, but has said he cannot assume the post permanently.

Empowered to appoint a new leader to finish the final 11 months of Haskell's term, the town board invited townspeople to meet Dec. 5 with the candidates, pose questions and air their views before the board makes their choice. The board has pledged to choose a candidate at the next town meeting, set for Dec. 16.

The diverse candidate pool consists of Albert Vasak, Edwin Baker, Red Pitkin, Joan Harris and Randall Oppitz and Eugene Rounds Jr. Rounds didn't attend the meeting. Oppitz was narrowly defeated by Haskell in the general election last year and has received the endorsement of the town Conservative and Democratic parties.

One outcome of Haskell's conviction and departure has been discord, with some residents expressing grudges against others based on where they were born or raised. This newly surfaced clash was reflected Dec. 5 in several of the questions asked. Several of the candidates stressed themes of healing and unity during the meeting. Budget, tax and assessment concerns were also addressed.

Here's a sampling of the questions posed, with answers from each candidate at the meeting:

Q: Is there an internal conflict in Thurman between lifelong residents and newcomers?

Albert Vasak Sr: "I am not sure this is a big problem anymore. Newcomers have the same issues as everyone else -taxes are too high and there are not enough services."

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