By Stuart Foster, Contributing Writer
MARLBOROUGH – Five-term Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant is running for re-election.
Marlborough Police Patrol Officer David Garceau, meanwhile, is making a second bid to unseat him.
Eyeing the campaign ahead, both mayoral candidates recently articulated their outlooks on Marlborough, the challenges facing it, and its recent successes.
Vigeant seeks sixth term, eyes pandemic recovery, building projects
Speaking with the Community Advocate, Vigeant described the city’s response to the pandemic as a major accomplishment.
With growing concern over a highly transmittable Delta strain of COVID-19, Vigeant said that the city’s experience handling the pandemic has now prepared it for any possibility of another outbreak.
“We’re in better shape now because we have been through it for a year, to jump into action pretty quickly,” Vigeant said. “But I think we mobilized real quick to begin with. We started doing clinics right away and started doing testing right away.”
Aside from the COVID-19 response, Vigeant named the opening of new fields and recreation centers, a new senior center and the new Goodnow Brothers Elementary School as further accomplishments from his time as mayor.
He noted infrastructure investments that exceeded annual commitments of $5 million and touted the city’s water supply, which is bolstered by access to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.
Vigeant also described his tenure, so far, as one of increasing energy efficiency, citing everything from new solar arrays on school buildings to the purchase of new electric cars for the city.
“We’ve gotten a lot done,” he said. “We haven’t been sitting back and watching everything go by us.”
With an influx of companies moving into Marlborough, the sitting mayor said it is important to ensure that residents are not priced out as a result of gentrification.
He said the city has worked with the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation to hold job fairs to connect residents with new jobs, also stressing the importance of educating local students about jobs that will be available when they graduate.
“The great thing about some of these companies is there’s opportunities for everyone, from minimum wage to middle management, and everything in between,” Vigeant said.
Other goals include finishing the Marlborough Public Library renovation project, which will break ground shortly. Vigeant is also prioritizing the construction of a new fire station at the intersection of Elm Street and Bigelow Street.
“I think obviously we have kind of a hole in the response area down in the Bigelow Street area,” Vigeant said. “We don’t get down there as quickly as we would like to.”
As some raise questions about an ongoing development boom, Vigeant noted a temporary moratorium on multifamily housing that he helped put in place.
He said that developments approved in the future should bring value to the city while ensuring that they don’t put a burden on the community. He emphasized a need to avoid overburdening the city’s school system.
Garceau calls to slow development, reevaluate water system
Garceau, who lost to Vigeant in 2019, said that he learned how to conduct better planning and voter outreach from his previous campaign.
In his interview with the Community Advocate, he called Vigeant an “intelligent man” who “has been good for Marlborough.” He also argued, though, that some areas have been neglected and said some changes have had a negative impact.
Namely, Garceau said that Marlborough has seen too much development, particularly in its southwest portion.
“I’m not against commercial development, but it has to be at the right place at the right time, and above all, it has to benefit the community,” Garceau said.
Garceau said he wants a full impact study of multiple-unit housing and commercial development in Marlborough. Until this is done, he said, there should be a complete moratorium on such construction, with the exception of duplexes.
Outside of development concerns, Garceau called for more city contracts to be given to local businesses or handled internally instead of being sent out of town.
Acknowledging concerns from neighborhood residents, he said that he would ask for a neutral entity to conduct a study and determine how large a new fire station should be, as aforementioned plans move forward to build one at the intersection of Elm Street and Bigelow Street.
Garceau called for a revitalization of Marlborough’s reservoirs through dredging projects, among other things, saying that the city has become too reliant on the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.
The 2019 Marlborough Community Resilience Building Workshop Summary of Findings, Garceau further said, revealed areas where the city has to prepare in the face of climate change.
“The bottom line is, we not only have a solid waste treatment plant in a flood zone, it’s right next to a drinking water reservoir,” Garceau said.
Garceau celebrated an increased focus on community policing within his own department in recent years but said he’s saddened by the number of officers who live outside of Marlborough.
He said a lack of affordable housing is driving officers away and argued that a public relations campaign could begin to attract more residents to work as police officers.
While Garceau said that he understood the COVID-19 pandemic was a stressful time, he said the city should have also tested first responders more frequently and provided more personal protective equipment, among other things.
Candidates look to the future
Ultimately, Garceau said that he wants to run to make sure problems are addressed head-on.
“What I can pledge is that I give it my all to see that everything I talk about on my agenda is properly addressed, and if I can’t fulfill that issue, at the very least the people deserve an honest answer why,” Garceau said.
Overall, Vigeant said he wants to stay the course for Marlborough, which he said is made easier by common interests and goals of officials in city government.
“I just want to keep going for a couple more years,” Vigeant said. “Everyone’s really rowing in the same direction, so it makes life a little easier.”
Candidates for mayor, city council and school committee have until Friday, August 13 to pull papers to get on the ballot.
The city election will take place on November 2.