AMHERST – After a 38-year teaching career, including several years as principal at Amherst Regional High School, Frank Balcom wants to give something back to his community.
The 60-year-old is one of nine people running for a seat on Amherst town council when voters go to the polls on Oct. 20.
“After I retired I started to think about what I could do to give back to the community,” Balcom said. “I have the time, the enthusiasm and the energy to be a member of town council and I’d like to be part of the effort to make Amherst a better place to live.”
Balcom, who was a member of the Amherst Rotary Club and original YMCA board of directors, said Amherst already has a number of things going for it. He would like to see the town build on its strengths and make itself more of an attractive place for business and industry.
He said the main issue he is hearing is the tax burden being faced by residents and business owners in the town. He would like to the see the town be as fiscally responsible as possible with every expenditure and revenue source assessed.
“Council needs to be accountable to the taxpayers of Amherst and if we can cut some corners to ease the tax burden then we should do so if we can,” he said. “We need to be fiscally responsible.”
He would like to see the town grow with new jobs and new businesses. He said the town has made some gains in the Centre First project and would like to see efforts increased to fill vacancies in the downtown core.
“We need to encourage as much growth as we possibly can,” Balcom said. “Historically, we’re a famous town with it being the home of four Fathers of Confederation. We are also the hub of the Maritimes and like Truro, which advertises itself as the hub of Nova Scotia, we need to promote our selves as the hub of the region.”
He said the town can attract more tourists and build on successful events like last month’s Rockabilly festival. He said the town needs to look at what other communities are doing and try to find events unique to Amherst – similar to what Sussex, N.B. has done with the annual balloon festival.
Balcom said his teaching career has given him a passion for young people and he’s a huge supporter of the youth town council. He would like to see the youth council continued.
With Robert Angel’s retirement from council, Balcom, who served on the Maritime Harness Racing Commission and was a coach and judge with the Canadian Equestrian Federation and 4-H light horse division, said he would like to be the town’s representative to the L.A. Animal Shelter’s board of directors.