The annual Dedham Town Election is just a few months away and preparations are in motion leading up to when the polls open on Saturday, April 12.
Current selectmen Sarah MacDonald and Paul Reynolds both announced in January that they would not be seeking re-election this spring, and Dedham TV announced this week that it will hold two special candidate debates in March.
Meanwhile, one new candidate for the Board of Selectmen gave Dedham Patch an inside look at what he hopes to bring to the board if elected this spring.
"The reason I'm running is, more or less, the crux of it is a lot of progress has taken place in town in a very short period of time," said Dan O'Neil, a Dedham resident who announced his run for selectmen on Dedham Patch in January. "There's more money coming in, but taxes aren't coming down, and I think that's a big problem."
As a solution, O'Neil said that he has developed a plan to implement a residential exemption that would give a discount on property tax to owner occupied homes in Dedham by about 10 percent.
"I feel the citizens have been leaned on too long, and I think this way we can give something back to them," he said.
The tax issue is only one thing O'Neil said he plans to bring to the table if elected, though.
"My second plan is I want to finally have the senior center situated," he said. "Our seniors are apart of our past and they're still apart of today, and they deserve something. I know that the Ames school house is one of the plans that the town is looking into. I actually used to go to school in the Ames school; it's a beautiful building. I think it would be great for a town hall and senior center."
A third idea O'Neil raised is to create a specific building for local recreational activities.
"I would like to see us do what I'm calling a Civic Complex, and I'd like to refurbish a building or build a building, to have two basketball courts, an indoor turf field and an indoor track," he said. "The reason for this is, basically, right now we have three basketball programs in town and it's very difficult to get gym time for all practices and sometimes even games."
O'Neil added that having the Dedham Youth Commission involved in an effort to offer more part-time jobs for students in town.
"With this complex, the uses are endless," he said. "You could do flag-football indoors, indoor soccer on inclement weather days and have adult leagues, we could have other towns use it, we could also have nights designated to come in and have soccer. It could benefit us in so many ways. Many people are getting healthy and at the same time we could make some money."
O'Neil plans to hold a campaign kickoff party on Saturday, March 1 from 5-9 p.m. at the Village Manor downstairs, 429 Sprague St. to elaborate on the plans and projects he'd like to bring to the table. He has explained in a blog on Dedham Patch more of why running for the board is important to him.