Michael Denice: Seeking a 'Fresh' Perspective for Milford
Michael Denice, 26, is conducting his first run for public office in his race for an open seat on the Board of Selectmen.
Michael Denice, 26, works under contract for Aer Lingus and is an FAA licensed pilot. He is conducting his first race for public office and is seeking a three-year term on the Board of Selectmen. Well known in Milford for a tragedy that involved his brother, the late Matthew Denice, Michael Denice said he thinks Milford needs a fresh perspective from a new candidate. Denice, a graduate of Milford High School, will graduate from Utah Valley University with a bachelor's degree in aviation science, once his flight hours are documented. He is running against incumbent Dino DeBartolomeis, who is seeking re-election to an 11th term. The election is April 2.
Editor's Note: What follows is an edited transcript of an interview with Denice in which local reporters asked his position on several issues. An interview with DeBartolomeis will be published Tuesday.
Q: Why are you seeking a seat on the Board of Selectmen?
A: I'm young, I'm energetic. I don't have any ties to businesses here in Milford. I'm open minded and I believe I can create a lot of change. It's time we take a stance and take change for Milford. I've always had an interest in politics, even local politics. The Board of Selectmen in Milford have made a lot of promises and have been unresponsive to them. There have been issues with the water in the past year, issues with crime that have not been addressed, and issues with immigration.
Q: What distinguishes you from your opponent?
A: Dino has served our town for 30 years. The town has changed a lot over the past 30 years. The town's sort of been going downhill and the current Board of Selectmen has been unresponsive to that. Crime has gone up drastically in Milford over the last five years. From 2005 to 2010, burglaries in Milford have gone up 225 percent. Larcenies have gone up 167 percent. Three people were killed by unlicensed drivers. Every day you can read the police log about all of these crimes that are being committed. The Board of Selectmen has a responsiblity to provide a safe place, here in Milford, for the residents.
Q: Will the issue of illegal immigration alone decide this race?
A: I think it's a big issue. I don't think it's going to be the deciding issue. I think what's important is definitely implementing a few things that would reduce the number of illegal immigrants here. There's a lot that could be done. Right now, Massachusetts as a state is a safe haven for illegal immigrants because of our lax laws. In Milford, if enough pressure was put on the issue, it would drive them to another town, as terrible as it sounds.
Q: What are the other top issues in Milford?
A: The major issues are illegal immigration and crime ... along with the casino proposal.
Q: How would you increase a town budget for, example, the police department, without increasing taxes?
A: Obviously, budget cuts would have to be made elsewhere. You would have to cut corners. Right now, I don't have specifics on what I would cut.
Q: Do you support keeping a higher tax rate for businesses than residential in Milford?
A: The feedback from the community is residential taxes, they don't want them raised. I'm in favor of keeping the tax rate for businesses as it is, which is higher than the residential tax rate. One thing I would be open to, to bring new businesses, large firms, is to offer a tax break to them for the first few years for new businesses, coming into Milford, to bring more jobs.
Q: What is your position on a casino in Milford?
A: Personally, as a member of this town, I'm against a casino. It would put a strain on town services. There would be an increase in crime, in drunk driving and traffic violations. I think it would bring property prices down. There are some people in favor of it because it would bring jobs to Milford. It's important we get the research and allow the community, the town citizens, to vote on it. It should go to a townwide vote. It's the community's right to vote on it. Personally, I'm against it. I think it would do more harm than good.
Q: Should Milford take over the private utility, Milford Water Co.?
A: That's drastic. I think that should be the last attempt, the last thing the town does. We should be able to have safe drinking water from a private company. If the town were to purchase the water company, it would be a huge, huge financial burden.
Q: What would you say to people who feel you are a one-issue candidate, or that you are not seasoned enough for this job?
A: Immigration is a major issue here in Milford. But I can tackle other issues. In my work experience, I've worked for a Fortune 500 company. Over the past 10 years I've seen many changes in Milford. Getting a fresh person on the Board of Selectmen, who is motivated for change, can help improve the town. Having a new person on the board can bring a lot of energy, and new light, to things.