FALMOUTH — Candidates for Town Council and School Board are distancing themselves from a political flier distributed last week.
The flier, partially written by school and council critic Michael Doyle, includes figures for a gym teacher’s salary and the school system’s per-pupil costs, as well lists of candidates to support and oppose.
Doyle said he wrote the portion that outlines his concerns about the school budget and asks voters to vote no on the budget at the referendum on June 8.
“I definitely did not do the second part,” he said.
The second part is titled “Our picks for and against,” although no group or person is listed as the author and Doyle would not disclose the writer.
It includes Faith Varney and David Murray for council and David Snow and Chris Murry Jr. for School Board. It urges people to vote against incumbent Councilor Bonny Rodden, stating that “Everything she touches becomes higher taxes for you!”
Rodden, who has been the target of fliers like this in the past, said she saw the flier late last week.
“I don’t think these kinds of campaign tactics deserve comment,” she said Tuesday.
Incumbent Councilor Tony Payne is not mentioned in the flier. Varney, Murray, Snow and Murry Jr. all spoke out against the document.
“I don’t like the tone or the approach,” Murry Jr. said. “These types of things damage the process. There’s no substance to these attacks.”
He said he would rather discuss the issues and leave the personal attacks out of the campaign.
Snow said he is a personal friend of Rodden’s and wanted nothing to do with the flier, which he described as “against what I would do myself.”
“I didn’t approve it and I don’t support it,” he said.
Varney said she does not agree with the attacks on the school that cited a gym teacher’s compensation as $100,073 for 176 days of work, or $572 per day.
“I don’t agree with Michael Doyle at all. The calendar may say 185 (school) days, but that doesn’t mean you sit on your hands the rest of the time,” she said.
Varney said she does not support the attacks on Rodden, either.
“This is not the type of thing I would do,” she said. “I don’t like negative attacks, period.”
Murray said he thought the flier was inappropriate and counterproductive.
“There’s no place for this sort of thing in elections,” he said. “I think Bonny (Rodden) is honest, sincere and passionate about building support for the things she believes in.”
Murray said he echoed what Rodden said in a debate last week: that voters have a clear choice at this election.
“I don’t like this angry, inflammatory rhetoric,” he said.
Doyle said he believed in what he wrote on the flier and that if the voters turned down the school budget, that he would provide a list of things that could be looked at immediately as cost-saving measures. He said he would like to see every teacher in the district take a pay cut.
“If (the candidates) are against saving money on the budget, that’s their decision,” he said of the criticism of the flier.
Doyle has also taken out the papers for a petition that would recall Town Council Chairwoman Cathy Breen. The petition required five registered voters sign on as a recall committee. In addition to Doyle, the committee members are Robert Povall, Jan Andrews, Beverley Knudsen and Marion Doyle, Michael Doyle’s mother.
If the committee collects signatures from 10 percent of the voters in support of the recall in 30 days, it will force a special election, which, under the Town Charter, will have to occur within 60 days of the petition’s completion.
On May 28, there were 9,100 registered voters in Falmouth. Going by that figure, the committee would have to collect 910 signatures by June 22 to force an election. Town Clerk Ellen Planer estimated it would cost the town approximately $6,500 to hold a special election.
Doyle said he has not started the process of collecting signatures.
Late last week, Knudsen requested her name be removed from the recall committee. She was told by the town clerk that she could not be removed since the petitions had been issued.
Knudsen, who is the vice chairwoman of the Falmouth Republican Committee, refused to discuss on the record her reasons for wishing to remove her name from the recall committee, saying only that she did not know Breen and had no reason to want to recall her.
Doyle, who was removed from the Falmouth Republican Committee at a meeting on May 20, has cited Breen’s comments and her treatment of Councilor Fred Chase as reasons for the recall.
Chase spoke out Tuesday against that line of reasoning.
“I want to make it clear that I don’t support the recall,” Chase said. “Cathy (Breen) has served the town well for five years.”
He said he met with Breen before she took over a chairwoman last year and told her to feel free to cut him off when he got long-winded.
“I have a story for everything,” he said. “I told her not to hesitate to interrupt me. When she did interrupt me, it was my own fault. I was talking about something other than the Natural Resources amendment.”
Chase said Breen has not been rude to him and reiterated several times that she has served the town well.
Breen, whose service as chairwoman concludes at the next council meeting, is serving her second consecutive term on the council. That term expires in June 2011.
Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org