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The Town Republican and Democratic committees might have already announced their slate of candidates for the upcoming election, but that doesn't mean the field has been officially set.
Joining them this November on the ballot will be James McKenney, who, as of now, will be running as an Independent.
“I believe I am qualified and I want to serve,” said McKenney, who received enough petition signatures to officially be included on the ballot in November. “I think voters want a choice when they vote, and that's why I am running.”
McKenney, a former teacher and current owner of Royal Crown Building Inc., had served on the Town Council from 1977 through 1979, and was re-elected to a second term but was forced to give that term up when it was ruled that a charter provision dealing with town employees would prevent him from serving.
McKenney also served briefly on the Inland Wetlands Commission and Economic Development Commission, and has been involved with Cheshire Softball for many years.
For three decades, McKenney served on the Town's Building Commission, and held the title of Chairman for many of them, he said. McKenney decided not to return to the Commission last year.
The decision to seek a seat on the Council stemmed from the Democratic Town Committee's inability to find a full slate of candidates to run for office, McKenney said.
“I felt it was a detriment to both the Democrats and the town as a whole,” said McKenney. “I probably wouldn't be running if they had a full slate. I just feel that the voters deserve a choice, and I feel I'm qualified.”
McKenney is a registered Democrat but describes himself as a “fiscal conservative” and an “independent thinker.” While it is still possible that a party could decide to endorse McKenney, he said that would not affect his approach, if elected.
“I am not going to vote along with a political block,” he said. “I am going to make up my own mind.”
As far as issues, McKenney spoke about the Cheshire Community Pool and stated his belief that a new bubble would simply be a “Band-aid.”
“The amount of energy lost through the bubble is astronomical,” said McKenney, who described the thickness of the vinyl on the original bubble as being inadequate. “Is it a short-term solution? Probably. Is it money well spent? Probably not.”
When it comes to the budget, McKenney expressed his belief that the Town needed to be more focused on increasing revenue that comes in.
Instead of “nit-picking” department requests, McKenney believes Cheshire must increase development of commercial properties so that additional taxes are generated.
“No one seems to be talking about that, but it is the most important thing,” he said. “You have to lessen the burden on the taxpayers in this town. You have to increase revenue.”
Running as an independent will present it's own set of challenges, he admits, and means that “I will just have to work harder to convince people I am a viable candidate.”
That means getting out and meeting people, talking to them about the Town and their frustrations, and presenting them with his ideas.
“That's something you have to do,” he said. “You have to get out there and meet constituents and see what's on their minds.”
What McKenney is hoping is that, come November, what's on the minds of enough Cheshire residents is to elect him to the Council.
“I have been constantly involved in town for years, I know how the boards and commissions work, and I believe I could do a good job,” he stated.