A total of four candidates are running for the two-year Boothbay Harbor selectman's term, a seat vacated by Jay D. Warren on Jan. 26. The term will run from May of this year until May 2017.
The candidates are Chris Haskell, Palmer Payne, Linc Sample and Tricia Warren.
Haskell is 30 years old and is the youngest candidate running. He ran for the one-year seat last year, but lost to current selectmen Wendy Wolf. He said he is running again to bring a “younger, local voice” to the board of selectmen.
“I'd like to see more high school students introduced to town government,” Haskell said. “Maybe the school could offer some kind of project that would involve coming to a meeting. They need to get involved and learn about it; in 25 years they will be the people running this town.”
Haskell also wants to push for more bicycle-friendly areas in town, more collaboration with Boothbay, and more movement on the Route 27 sidewalk project.
“It's a real safety concern,” Haskell said. “There is practically no shoulder there and people walk it often, including at night.”
Haskell is a native of Boothbay Harbor. He graduated from Boothbay Region High School in 2003, and is a member of the Boothbay Region Health and Wellness Foundation and the Knights of Pythias Boothbay Lodge 32.
Warren, 35, is the niece of the former holder of this seat, Jay D. Warren. She decided to run because her good friend, State Rep. Stephanie Hawke, suggested it.
“I gave my uncle (Jay D. Warren) a call and asked him ‘What do you think?’” Warren said. “He said it was a great idea and I should absolutely run.”
Warren is running to bring some “fresh blood to the board” as she puts it, and work to keep the town alive. She has lived here for 23 years, and in that time, has seen a significant decline in tourism over the years.
“When I first moved here, the town was always booming,” Warren said. “It hasn't been that way for a long time. We need to increase commerce and opportunity while keeping the small-town feel and integrity of the town intact.”
Warren said she has been doing a great deal of research on what federal funding programs are available for towns like Boothbay Harbor to increase business. She is especially looking forward to working with selectman Wendy Wolf (currently running for her seat against challenger Rendle Jones).
“I'm huge into researching before I act on something,” Warren said. “So I know a bit about Wendy and I feel we share a lot in common. If she keeps her seat I think we will work well together.”
Warren was born in Woodstock, New York and has two children currently attending Boothbay Region Elementary School. She works at the Boathouse Bistro and has worked for restaurateurs Ralph and Elena Smith for eight years.
“I love working for them,” Warren said.
Sample, born in 1960, has served before on the Boothbay Harbor Board of Selectmen, from 2008 to 2011. He left the board at that time because he has just finished his campaign to be state representative and felt the town was in good hands.
“I was a bit tired of politics,” Sample said. “But when I left, I told the people if they asked me to run again, I would, as that was the reason I originally ran.”
Sample feels it's important to have a “native voice” on the board.
“People born on this peninsula bring a unique perspective to the board,” Sample said. “I think the current selectmen have done a fine job, but we need someone with that native perspective.”
Sample said he is very pleased with the job the town has done with keeping taxes stable and the budget under control, and feels it is time to look at more collaboration with the rest of the Boothbay peninsula.
“We can no longer look at Boothbay Harbor as a stand-alone entity,” Sample said. “We want to maintain our character, but decisions have to be made regionally with thought to how it will affect our neighbors. Not just Boothbay, but Southport and Edgecomb as well.”
Sample also feels it is important to keep the town economically viable while preserving our unique natural environment and protecting individual property rights. He is a fan of the work currently being done in Boothbay with the Boothbay Harbor Country Club.
“You can question his (Paul Coulombe's) motives, but why (would) an individual spend millions of dollars on something to the detriment of the town?” Sample said. “He simply wouldn't. He's brought jobs to the area, just like my father did in 1939 when he built minesweepers here for the war effort. Just like people such as the Hodgdons and Rices have done.”
Sample was born in Boothbay Harbor and graduated from BRHS in 1978. He is married with five boys between his wife and himself. He is a member of both Seaside and Bay View Masonic Lodges, a Sergeant at-Arms in the American Legion, a member of the Fish and Game Club, and a certified firearms instructor. Sample is also a veteran of the United States Navy.
The last candidate, Palmer Payne, has also previously served on the board of selectmen, around 1999 or 2000. He decided to run again after he was asked to by members of the community.
Payne was born in 1930 and has lived in the region since 1994. He was born in Ohio, and has lived in Indiana, Kentucky and Massachusetts before he retired in Boothbay Harbor.
Payne feels that every citizen should understand and participate in town government. He currently serves on the board of appeals, refuse district, and the port committee. He has also served on the budget committee for many years. He said he has enjoyed learning about the facts and figures that make up a town budget, and is somewhat concerned about the steady decline in interest in the town budget he has seen.
“Over the past 20 years of attending town meetings, the budget has steadily risen and attendance has gone down,” Payne said. Only 36 people, or around one percent of the population, attended town meeting in May 2014.
Payne is also concerned about what he feels is unnecessary spending in the town.
“We have a police department with a budget of close to three quarters of a million dollars,” Payne said. “They do a fine job, no question, but we are always paying for the county sheriff in the budget and I would like to see the BHPD make more use of the sheriff’s department as a resource.”
Payne also mentioned how when the sheriff’s department is short on officers in Boothbay or Southport, BHPD officers are called on to assist, yet the town is not compensated for their help in any way.
Payne also wants to remove donations in the town budget to local organizations outside of the municipal structure.
“I don't want government telling me who to give donations to,” Payne said. “Outside organizations should not be funded by government and taxpayer dollars.”
Payne spent his career working in the field of journalism, working for CBS and ABC.
“The first time I met (Boothbay Harbor Town Manager) Tom Woodin he told me I had a great voice for radio and asked if I had ever thought about it.
“I told him Tom, ‘I tried it for 44 years and then I quit.’”
Today, Payne spends his days today serving on various boards and committees and working with the VA and American Legion (which he has done for more than 20 years), helping veterans and their families.
“If I am elected, I will listen to anything anyone has to say, and explain my positions to anyone who asks,” Payne said. “I will watch the money and make sure it's spent sensibly and properly.”
Elections will be held on Friday, May 1, followed by town meeting, which will be held at 9 a.m. on May 2 at Boothbay Region Elementary School.