FAIRHAVEN — Paul Kitchen has three terms as Bristol County Commissioner under his belt. Proud of what’s happened in the county during his 12 years, the Fall River native and Fairhaven resident is seeking a fourth term in Tuesday’s election.
Kitchen is one of three candidates seeking two county commissioner seats. Like Kitchen, the other two candidates are practicing Fall River attorneys, incumbent John Mitchell of Fall River and challenger Nancy Stanton-Cross of Westport.
Kitchen and Stanton-Cross are both 1982 graduates of BMC Durfee High School, where both were swimmers.
The biggest item on the Bristol County Commissioners menu is the ongoing construction/renovation product of Bristol County Agricultural School in Dighton, just west of the Berkley-Dighton Bridge.
He said the project was a must, not only for providing students with a state-of-the-art facility but also for making it possible for more students to attend Bristol Aggie. And for those accepted students to get be able to get into the program they want.
With the Massachusetts School Building Association picking up 56 percent of the $108 million project cost, Kitchen and his fellow commissioners successfully encouraged the state to pass legislation allowing the county to pass a bond for the remaining $50 million.
Bristol Aggie has been able to accommodate 36 students for its animal sciences program, 18 for small animals and eight for large animals. Kitchen said the new animal sciences building will allow those numbers to be doubled.
While, he said, a building does not make a curriculum, the current aged Bristol Aggie with its small classrooms has likely discouraged some students, who leave after starting their education. That, Kitchen said, should no longer be an issue. “It’s going to be an exciting building,” he said.
Bristol Aggie commands about half of Bristol County’s annual $23 million budget. Commissioners are charged with using the budget to also maintain and repair county buildings, mostly in New Bedford, Attleboro, Taunton and Fall River, and to pay staff.
In a time when some would argue that country government has become antiquated, Kitchen disagrees. He said it’s important to be able to allow county citizens to take care of their public business close to home.
The commissioners supervise the Registry of Deeds, with offices in Fall River, New Bedford, Taunton and Attleboro. As further service to county residents, Kitchen noted, more and more inquiries may be made online.
Kitchen also spoke of the under-publicized county print shop in New Bedford. The shop is open to the public and “the rates are fantastic,” he said.
While many in the county are not interested in traveling to New Bedford for their printing, Kitchen said the shop has been popular with New Bedford lawyers. “The public is welcome,” he emphasized.
Kitchen is a former Bristol County District Attorney’s office assistant D.A. and a former member of the Fall River School Committee.
“I’m just concerned about serving Bristol County,” he said. “I value community service.”