POLAND — Voters will head to the polls on Monday, March 4, for a special election to fill the three vacant seats created two months ago when three selectmen were ousted in a recall election.
The recall was prompted by the Board of Selectmen's Oct. 16 decision to fire former Town Manager Rosemary Kulow.
Within two weeks of that action, a group of citizens collected 188 signatures of people requesting a recall on the charge that selectmen had violated their oaths of office by not following the procedure for removal of a town manager as outlined in the Town Charter.
Targeted in the recall were Jim Fernald, Larry Moreau and Wendy Sanborn, who voted in the affirmative in the 3-2 vote that removed Kulow.
The three argued that Kulow had been legally terminated under terms of her employment agreement.
Seven candidates are running for the three open seats on the board.
Five are running for two two-year terms, to complete the terms of Fernald and Moreau, which are scheduled to expire in April 2015; two are running for the one month that remains of Sanborn's term.
The seven candidates were asked to provide basic backgound information, to identify the most important issue facing the town and to tell how they would recommend dealing with that issue.
Five candidates for the two two-year terms:
Michelle Arsenault graduated from Lake Region High School in 1982 and has worked in the banking industry, in a supervisory position, for many years. She also has been an office assistant in different types of businesses. She volunteers in the Poland Food Bank and has coached basketball in Mechanic Falls, volunteered in local schools and was co-chairwoman of Project Graduation in 2007. She has three sons, two in college, with the third a student at Whittier Middle School.
Arsenault identified the budget as the most important issue facing the town.
“There should be a freeze on hiring new positions and intense research into last year's budget to see what can be lowered and cut from the budget,” Arsenault said. “This should be done with the transparency needed to have citizen involvement.”
James Fernald graduated from Edward Little High School and Colorado Mountain College with a degree in ski area management. Since 1996 he has worked as a John Deere service technician, currently with Hammond Tractor in Auburn; previously, he worked as a lift maintenance supervisor at Sunday River. He has been a coach for Poland Recreation soccer and softball programs, and serves on the board that maintains the Eighth Maine Regiment's historical building on Peaks Island and is president of the Highland Cemetery Association. He and his wife, Margaret, have a son at Poland Regional High School and a daughter at Whittier Middle School.
Fernald identified the need to keep the town's tax rate flat as the most pressing issue.
“I believe that the persons elected to the Board of Selectmen should be very mindful that the taxpayers cannot absorb any more increases, and it is up to the board to act accordingly,” Fernald said. “People have worked hard to get the town to the financially sound position that it is today.”
Janice Kimball graduated from Gray/New Gloucester High School in 1976 and holds an associate degree in business administration from the University of Maine at Augusta. She is employed by the city of Portland as the benefits manager. Prior to her 19 years with the city of Portland, she was employed by Tambrands for 11 years as a human resources professional. She grew up on the Kimball Dairy Farm and worked at Bradbury Farms, Chipman Farms and the Poland Spring Inn. She volunteered her time with school activities and fundraising when her daughters were growing up in town. She has two grown daughters and a grandchild due soon.
Kimball identified maintaining a stable tax rate as the most important issue facing the town.
“I will be supporting a budget that provides an affordable tax mill rate and work for the recruitment of compatible businesses to lessen the tax burden,” Kimball said. “The growth and character of the town are at stake.”
Lawrence “Larry” Moreau graduated from Lewiston High School and has owned and been in upper-level management since 1976 and since 1988 has been general manager of Jim's Auto Sales, Rent-it and Pitman Properties, responsible for all aspects of the businesses. He has served on the town Budget Committee for 11 years, the Planning Board for 12 years, the Board of Appeals for two years and has served on many ad hoc town committees. He is an EMT and has served on the National Ski Patrol for 12 years. He and his wife, Sandy, have two grown children, a son who is a married Poland homeowner and a daughter who is a college student.
Moreau identified the difficulty the town faces in trying to maintain an even tax rate, given projected losses in state revenues.
“Through past experience and demonstrated ability, I feel I can hold the line and make the tough decisions we will be facing over the next two years,” Moreau said. “We need to make sure every dollar we spend is done in an efficient and thoughtful manner to minimize the impact to the already stressed taxpayer.”
Stanley Tetenman graduated from Edward Little High School in 1962 and from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in Boston. After working at Packard's Pharmacy for two years, he opened Scott Pharmacy in Lewiston as a new business in 1969 which operated until he sold it in 1998. Since selling Scott Pharmacy he has worked for Rite Aid and at a number of Hannaford pharmacies in the area. He was a board member of the Auburn Housing Authority for 15 years, served on the Ricker Library Board of Trustees, the Comprehensive Planning Board since 2006, serving as chairman for the 2008 revision of the Comprehensive Plan, and is currently on the town Budget Committee. He and his wife, Cathy, have two grown sons and three grandchildren.
Tetenman identified citizen and employee morale as the No. 1 issue at this time.
“The replacement of the town manager should have been done in an open and transparent manner,” Tetenman said. “The selectmen should conduct an application and search process to find the best-qualified person available to manage our town.”
Two candidates for the one-month term:
Walter Gallagher graduated from Lake Region High School in 1981. After a tour of duty in the U.S. Navy, he returned to Naples where he managed Black Mountain Hardwoods' retail store until 2000 when he went to work for Penmor Lithographers in Lewiston. Currently, he is customer service manager at Penmor. He has served on the town Budget Committee for the past three years and became its representative working with school officials in developing the RSU 16 budget. He and his wife, Janice, have lived in Poland since 2005.
Gallagher identified economic development as the most important issue facing the town today.
“With less money coming in from the state, we need to work with economic development on bringing in more businesses,” Gallagher said. “It is the key to helping us maintain a stable property-tax rate.”
Sandra Knowles graduated from college with a major in anthropology and a minor in sociology, and took courses in housing and related subjects. She became director of the Clermont County Housing Authority in 1978 and moved to Poland in 1983 when she became director of the Lewiston Housing Authority, where she remained until 2001. She served a three-year term on the Poland Board of Selectmen, served on the town Budget Committee and the Comprehensive Plan Committee. She is currently chairwoman of the Ricker Memorial Library 50th Anniversary Committee. Married to Bill Willett, she has three daughters and a son, as well as six grandchildren.
Knowles identified the lack of trust in leadership as the most important issue facing the town.
“Those recalled selectmen did too much business in unnecessary executive meetings and seemed to view the public as their enemies, rather than their employers,” Knowles said. “I will encourage and welcome town people's help and ideas and do the business of Poland in an open and respectful manner.”