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Board candidates wrangle at forum

At Monday’s Meet the Candidates forum, incumbent Warrensburg Town Board member Austin Markey (foreground)  answers a question, while challenger Linda Baker Marcella (left), candidate Joyce Reed (center) and councilman Dean Ackley (center right) listen to his statement.

At Monday’s Meet the Candidates forum, incumbent Warrensburg Town Board member Austin Markey (foreground) answers a question, while challenger Linda Baker Marcella (left), candidate Joyce Reed (center) and councilman Dean Ackley (center right) listen to his statement. Photo by Thom Randall.

— The four candidates for Warrensburg Town Board squared off Monday Oct. 24 in a Meet the Candidates event that was attended by several dozen local residents.

Over the course of the event, Incumbent Town Board members Dean Ackley and Austin Markey fended off the calls for change as well as hearing compliments from challengers Joyce Reed and Linda Baker Marcella. In the September Primary election, Ackley and Markey lost the Republican Party endorsement to Reed and Marcella, and they are now contending on the Conservative Party line.

Reed was blunt about seeking change. She said that town board members had “personal vendettas” and at times were headed in the wrong direction.

”The town board lacks the taxpayers’ voice,” she said. “Town board members are complacent, with some making decisions in their own interest.”

Marcella picked up the theme, stating that Ackley had advocated eliminating or curtailing health insurance benefits to future members of the town board while retaining his own 100 percent coverage. She added that a small town couldn’t afford to pay full-contribution lifetime benefits to its part-time board members that would cost $15,000 or so per person per year for dozens of people. Some have estimated the cost of such benefits to surpass a total of $1 million or more in the long run.

But Ackley said that when he joined the board years ago, he didn’t realize that he received any such benefits.

“Somewhere down the road, it should be eliminated,” he said, adding that he makes his decisions on behalf of the entire community rather than from personal interest.

Markey blamed the insurance companies for hiking rates. In the past, he received health insurance benefits, but now he receives benefits through his employer, Warren Ford, he said. Markey’s been a town board member for 16 years.

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