Polls open April 14 for Wareham Fire District election
Polls will be open Saturday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the Wareham Fire District election. Voting takes place at the Wareham Water Department, 2550 Cranberry Highway.
There is one contested race between two lifelong residents of Wareham for a seat on the Board of Water Commissioners. Incumbent Rick England, who also sits on the Prudential Committee, is seeking a second, three-year term. He will face a challenge from fellow Prudential Committee member Kenneth Baptiste.
Prudential Committee members oversee the fire department while water commissioners make decisions regarding the water department. England, a Prudential Committee member for seven years, became a water commissioner three years ago.
“I’ve come to learn how the water department works,” said England, a co-owner of Legacy Insurance on Main Street. “As far as my competitor goes, he’ll have to learn it all, as I did.”
England said his business background gives him the experience needed to govern the district.
“I’ll continue to keep an eye on things,” said England. “As a business person, I can look at the ins and outs of the district and make sure it’s managed properly.”
Since England’s election, some major changes have taken place in the district. Among them, a decision, made in February, to raise water rates 52 percent and the approval of a $12.5 million water treatment plant. The plant is slated to come online within the next two years.
The rate increase was needed to fund the plant and upcoming infrastructure improvements, officials said.
“I’d like to see that project come to fruition,” said England.
Baptiste has been on the Prudential Committee for nine years. A retired truck driver, call-firefighter who served on the department for 34 years and former Wareham police officer for five years, he said the Board of Water Commissioners needs “a fresh set of eyes.”
Baptiste said district spending should be watched carefully, in light of the water rate increase.
“We’ve got to keep a focus on the budget and the money situation,” said Baptiste. “I’m offering my services to the people.”
He noted he’s been running a quiet campaign and that his reputation among district residents speaks for itself.
“The district is in a good position right now and I want to keep it that way,” said Baptiste.
With several infrastructure challenges ahead, including the need to replace miles of pipes, Baptiste said he’ll be looking to the future for ratepayers.
“As a district, we’ve got to keep looking forward,” said Baptiste. “The ratepayers deserve nothing less.”