WAKEFIELD — The Daily Item posed two questions to the candidates on the ballot in tomorrow’s Special Election to fill the Town Council vacancy caused by the death of Councilor Peter May last October.

The Special Election pits former Town Councilor Paul DiNocco against former Assessor Michael McLane. The winner will hold the seat until the April 26 Town Election. For either candidate to continue serving for a full 3-year term would require running again on the April 26 Annual Town Election ballot.

The polling place at the Galvin Middle School gymnasium will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow.

After serving on the Town Council for 12 years, Paul DiNocco of Wiley Street did not seek reelection in 2021. DiNocco previously served on the Planning Board. When the Town Council voted on Dec. 15 to call a Special Election to fill the vacant seat, DiNocco pulled papers the following morning. He has not publicly stated whether he would run for a full 3-year term and has not pulled papers to run for a full term in the April 26 Annual Town Election.

Michael McLane of Fairmount Avenue is an attorney and previously served as a member of the Board of Assessors. He pulled papers on Dec. 29 to run in tomorrow’s Special Election. He has also declared his intention to run for a full, 3-year term on the Town Council in the April 26 Annual Town Election. He pulled papers for the full 3-year term on Jan. 24.

The Wakefield Daily Item’s questions and the candidates’ responses follow.

WDI: What do you see as the most important issue(s) currently facing Town Council?

PAUL DINOCCO: At this point in the year, finishing off all of the discussion relating to the Town budget that will, and in turn appear on the Warrant at the March Town Meeting. Each year brings new challenges when budget time rolls in. Many departments have wish list items that they would like to see added. Discussion is needed to determine whether money will be allocated or if a department is asked to stay within the previously prescribed assigned budget.

MICHAEL MCLANE: Runaway growth and the resulting traffic it causes, as well as the potential for future problems, which ties in with my questions as to whether we are close to the 10 percent 40B number that allows us more local control so that projects do not overtake our town and downtown. We were at 6.7 percent just over a year ago and I want to find out if the new growth has helped us reach that goal. The building of a High School is a top priority, as are the roads. If you do not believe me, take a drive up Charles Street where it passes Birch Hill. Just drive slowly. We should also make sure downtown is kept clean, and I would like to see some beat walking by our police. The presence might slow down some folks who fly through downtown as if pedestrians are an inconvenience. Another pending issue will be how to equitably spend the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds we receive, while bearing in mind any fixed costs we incur in the future may be borne by the town after the funding ends. In addition, I would like to see whether the town can do more for seniors in terms of housing, a subject that has not been addressed in some time.

WDI: What do you expect to accomplish in the nine weeks that you will sit on the Council if elected?

MICHAEL MCLANE: The obvious answer is that, as the only candidate who has committed to running in the Special as well as the General election, I would hope to get a head start on issues that I will have an impact on over the next three years. One member of a Council of seven is not going to be able to turn the ship in nine weeks, but I hope to steer the ship into the middle of the channel over time. We need to be fact-based, and to understand that many of our residential citizens, the backbone of the town, do not feel they are being listened to. In addition, all Council members must have their opinions heard and considered. We should strive for transparency at all times, as not all voters can or should be expected to attend every town board meeting.

Two Council members have written that my election would somehow create problems in ongoing budgetary voting. This is nonsense. I was participating in joint meetings as an Assessor with the then Selectmen relative to shifting the maximum away from the residential taxpayer long before many Council members either lived here or thought about running. By the way, back then we had almost 31% commercial participation in taxes, which has been drastically reduced over time, shifting more of the tax burden to residential property owners. I met many times with Tommy Butler about the budget, and the case then is the case now, a good portion of the budget is fixed for labor. I have served on the Supervisory Committee of a billion-dollar credit union, and deal with amounts well in excess of the town budget on a daily basis. My personal feelings here are not important, though. The town has, in my opinion, not only a choice but a choice of two qualified candidates, which is a good thing. The voters will decide. It is an election, not a selection.

PAUL DINOCCO: As you stated, the position I am seeking is only for 9 weeks, that is maybe 4-5 meetings. I feel that 9 weeks wouldn’t afford any major item to be properly vetted and voted on. In my case, I hope to bring to the table my experience from serving as a councilor for 12 years, when discussing Town Business matters, to the budget process, and assist the other members in making the best decisions for the community as possible. Preparing the Budget and the Warrant to Town Meeting would be a big enough accomplishment.