Soil issues shape campaign for selectman in Uxbridge
UXBRIDGE - Voters will go to the polls Tuesday for a special election to fill the Board of Selectmen seat vacated in May when Lance Anderson resigned.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at McCloskey Middle School, 62 Capron St.
Three names appear on the ballot, but one of the candidates, Kristen LeBlanc of 242 North Main St., announced last week that she is no longer running because of personal reasons. Ms. LeBlanc urged her supporters to vote for Justin Piccirillo of 47 North Main St.
Mr. Piccirillo, an engineer and alternate member of the Planning Board, faces Gary Lavallee of 118 Hartford Avenue East, a construction manager and U.S. Navy veteran who serves on the Pout Pond Recreation Committee and volunteers with the Italian-American Club and other organizations.
Two controversial soil importation projects, bringing in fill from construction projects largely in the Boston area, which have low levels of contaminants, have dominated the special election campaign as well as many other areas of town government.
Mr. Piccirillo is active in the grass-roots Uxbridge Citizens for Clean Water and said at a candidates forum held at the Senior Center Nov. 17 that if he could change one thing in town, "I'd take that dirty dirt and I'd stick it back in Boston."
He said he was running for the selectman's seat because he believed town government was getting bigger and inefficient, and he took issue with the board's handling of projects such as the reclamation soil importation at 175 South St. and 775 Millville Road.
He also advocated for more long-range planning and favored reducing the authority of the town manager, perhaps handing line-item budget veto authority to the Finance Committee.
Mr. Lavallee has lived in town for 53 years and said his knowledge as a construction manager who works at one of the soil importation sites would be an asset for the selectman's role.
"I know that the engineers in Boston and the DEP and the engineers at our site are in control of that," he said at the candidates forum. "If there's no law being broken, you really have to follow the charter and the laws of the town on what you're going to do on that."
Mr. Lavallee said, "There hasn't been a test that's come back that says it's dirty dirt." He said the soil in town was "dirtier" than what's brought in and contained high levels of metals.
His construction experience would also help when selectmen, acting as water and sewer commissioners, oversee the massive wastewater treatment plant upgrade mandated by federal regulators, he said.
His life experience and commitment to the town would be strengths, according to Mr. Lavallee. He has four children, including three in Uxbridge public schools.
Mr. Lavallee volunteers at the food pantry and said if he could change one thing in town, he'd ask "that we had enough money to take the burden off everybody."