Editor's note: The following is an interview with Selectmen candidate Michael Runyan. Burlington Patch will feature articles on all of the candidates in the contested Board of Selectmen and Planning Board races.
Michael Runyan is back on the ballot for the Burlington Board of Selectmen. This is Runyan's third time in the race and last year he narrowly lost to Selectmen Daniel Grattan by four votes. He said he is optimistic about his chances in this election.
"I feel good," he said. "At the end of day I think it will be a tight race. We've got some new faces that have reached out to us this year."
Runyan is a Burlington High graduate of 1976. After high school he enrolled part time at Middlesex Community College and Northeastern University Law Enforcement program. He is a graduate of Massachusetts Firefighting Academy and Northeasten University EMT program.
In an interview with Patch, Runyan said he was inspired to enter the race this year by many of the same issues that have motivated him before. The number one reason being the economy.
"My reasons really haven't changed," he said. "My biggest concern is the difficult economy we are in, I'm not seeing any effort from the administration to tighten their belts, be more conservative in spending or make any changes in the way we do business. If ever there was an opportunity to rearrange things, now would be the time do it."
When asked where he would cut spending, Runyan said one area was the amount of money spent on studies and consultants.
"We use consultants and conduct studies when we don't need to," he said. "This is the third time we've studies the fire department needs on Terrace Hall Ave. We've also using consultants to hire police and fire chiefs and now a new town administrator. This is something we've done for years without consultants. We elected a Board of Selectmen to handle these types of decisions."
Runyan added that in his view the current board has also not take action when it should. Specifically he pointed to addressing the traffic on Winn Street near Marshall Simonds Middle School and Memorial School.
"The selectmen have chosen to take no action on Winn St., despite [Town Administrator] Robert Mercier asking them to address it," he said. "That is an area where something needs to be done but they are taking wait and see attitude to see how traffic flows down there.
Runyan said his background would be an asset on the board. He has been a member of the Burlington Fire Department for 23 years and said this experience has given him insight into Burlington and the issues facing its residents.
"I'm in hundreds of homes each years as member of fire department so I interact with hundreds of people of all ages and all income levels," he said. "I talk to them extensively while I'm there so I get a good sense of the kind of issues and concerns are faced by a cross-section of town."
Runway was also on a Town Meeting member for 12 years and spent five of those on the Capital Budget Committee.
"My time on Town Meeting and Capital Budget gave me a good idea of how the departments operating, how they set their budgets," he said.
Runyan said this knowledge would help him on the board.
"If elected I'll have a sub-committee appointment and since I know the department heads, so no matter where I go there will be a smooth transition. We will be able to hit the ground running."
When asked what issues he sees facing the town and what should be done to address them, Runyan brought up Burlington's aging population.
"I like numbers, I do a lot with them and I think we need to be very concerned right now," he said. "We're an aging community and it is estimated that within 10 years 50 percent of our residents will be of retiring age and on fixed income. That will be a huge problem and I think we need to address that now. We should look at senior living in town and do something that allows empty nesters to downsize their home, freeing up some single family homes for younger families."
Finally, we asked Runyan what he thought separated him from the other candidates.
"That's easy," he said. "As I've pointed out in the past, the town administration has voted 5-0-0, unanimously, on every single matter presented to them. That strikes me as very odd that no one on that board has a different opinion on any matters. I guarantee you I would have a difference of opinion, especially when it comes to consultant fees and studies."
The town election will be held April 14 in the Burlington High School gym.