Meadows to challenge Osten for first selectman seat

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Sprague - posted Mon., Mar. 18, 2013
Edward 'Buddy' Meadows, a Republican, plans to challenge Democratic First Selectman Catherine Osten in Sprague this November. Photo by Janice Steinhagen.
Edward 'Buddy' Meadows, a Republican, plans to challenge Democratic First Selectman Catherine Osten in Sprague this November. Photo by Janice Steinhagen.

The November municipal elections may be more than seven months away, but some of the region’s towns already have candidates preparing to face off against incumbents for the top slot on boards of selectmen. Among those towns is Sprague, where incumbent First Selectman Cathy Osten, who last November won the state Senate seat vacated as a result of Edith Prague’s retirement, is being challenged by former selectman Edward “Buddy” Meadows.

Meadows, who currently runs the town’s senior center, is seeking the endorsement of the town’s Republican caucus, which will meet later this spring. He served two terms as a selectman in the 1980s and was re-elected again in 2007, resigning his post in 2011 so he could focus on planning the town’s 150th anniversary celebration. He said that during his prior terms he was part of the board that voted to send town budgets to referendum rather than accept or reject them at town meeting, a decision he now regrets.

“At a referendum you can’t even ask a question [about the budget]," he said. “The town meeting is a lot better for the people. The townspeople should have as much say as the Board of Selectmen does on the budget.”

Osten, a Democrat, said that thus far she has been able to handle her dual roles of first selectman and state senator and has not given thought to whether she will seek re-election to her municipal office. “We’ll see what will happen,” she said. “The Democratic Town Committee has never made a determination on that. We’re still working to cover our slate of candidates.” The party’s caucus is not scheduled to take place until this summer, she said.

Town officials have made some significant budget cuts as they have worked in the past few months to craft the 2013-14 spending plan, Osten said. A town facilities director position and a janitorial position at the gristmill museum were eliminated, with the workload being taken on by school-funded staff. One full-time public works employee was reduced to part-time, leaving three full-time and three part-time staffers in public works, she said. “I’ve had some very difficult discussions with town employees over the past week,” she said.

Meadows’ own position as senior center director was also among the casualties, with his hours cut from 32 to 20 per week. “We lose no services by doing that,” since the center’s driver and food service personnel are unaffected by the budget cuts, Osten said.

Meadows disagreed with Osten’s assessment. He said that he works as the town’s municipal agent for the elderly, helping seniors access fuel assistance and doing home visits. That work is partly-funded by a small stipend, but “that’s what’s going to get hurt,” he said. “With 20 hours a week of work, that’s all going to be neglected, no two ways about it.”

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