MARLBOROUGH – In less than one week, Marlborough will have a new mayor-elect.
The two contenders for the seat – current City Councilors Samantha Perlman and J. Christian Dumais – engaged in the second of two mayoral debates on Wednesday, Nov. 1, in the School Committee meeting room on Washington Street.
The debate was sponsored by the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Perlman and Dumais expounded their experience, both as councilors and their outside work.
While Dumais emphasized his experience as a small business owner, Perlman touted her background in the nonprofit sector and education. Both said they would be ready to take the reins as Marlborough mayor come Jan. 1.
The issue of the fire station came up several times during the debate. Dumais was a member of the fire station committee, while Perlman said she attended the committee meetings.
She added that she is concerned not only about the station, but how to staff it.
Dumais said that he would not only reinstate the committee, he would keep the Pleasant Street station open.
Retaining municipal employees was a big concern for both candidates.
“The city needs a macro approach” when it comes to reviewing salary packages, said Perlman.
Dumais talked about the vacancies for DPW director and chief financial officer; he said he has a candidate for the latter position and would appoint that candidate on Jan. 1.
When it comes to negotiating with the city’s unions for new contracts – there will be 11 up for negotiations in 2024, said Dumais – both agreed that a good relationship with the unions is necessary.
“We need mutual respect with the unions,” said Dumais.
During the candidate vs. candidate questioning, Perlman brought up the number of times Dumais had to recuse himself from council meetings. Dumais replied he recused himself 16 times from special permit votes pertaining to businesses near his own.
“It shows that I am transparent,” he said, adding that as mayor, he would not have to recuse himself, since the mayor does not vote on special permits.
The mayor is also the chair of the School Committee. There was a question from the panel regarding the latest MCAS scores, which indicated that 30% of students in Marlborough Public Schools were not meeting expectations. Both candidates said they were concerned.
“The numbers are alarming,” said Perlman. “I take this issue seriously.”
“I would have those people [Marlborough Public Schools] assess the situation,” said Dumais.
On the issue of the opioid epidemic, Dumais said he would try and hire a substance abuse coordinator (the position is currently vacant). Perlman said she would provide better support for the Addiction Referral Center.
Both candidates would try and promote diversity within the Marlborough Police Department; promote small businesses in the city; and encourage veterans to open businesses.
The Community Advocate’s mayoral candidate questionnaire can be found here.
The Municipal Election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 7. In addition to the mayoral race, there are several contested races for City Council, including at-large, Ward 2, Ward 3, Ward 4, Ward 6 and Ward 7.
For information on voting and to view sample ballots, visit https://www.marlborough-ma.gov/city-clerk/pages/election-voting-information