Planning Board chairman seeks seat on county commission

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Robert Kirchherr of Paris believes he has unique experience to offer the Oxford County Commission.

Currently chairman of the Paris Planning Board, the Democrat spent two decades as associate dean of academic affairs at Central Maine Community College in Auburn.

He said the county government is inefficient and needs restructuring.

“There are management opportunities that could save the taxpayers a lot of money,” he said. He credited county administrator Scott Cole with making moves in the right direction.

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Kirchherr is critical of the county’s bidding process, saying he thinks he could find significant savings in the way the county awards contracts for projects.

“The processes and procedures that are used are not the most efficient.”

He said population growth in the county has made the three-member commission an obsolete model, and that the commission should expand to five members in order to better represent the many towns and townships of Oxford County.

As a member of the Planning Board, Kirchherr said he’s given thought to how towns along Route 26 would deal with added traffic and development should Question 1 pass.

Like Caldwell, Kirchherr supports the proposed casino, even though he opposed the 2008 Oxford Hills casino referendum. He said the area has lost too many jobs in recent years to reject it.

“The casino may be a short-term answer to a long-term problem, but right now we need a short-term answer. There are too many people who are out of work, and I believe the casino, for all its shortcomings, will provide some employment opportunities.”

Kirchherr foresees health and safety issues coming with the casino. They’ll need more police and traffic will be heavier. “I don’t think anyone can tell all of the issues that might be raised by a major development,” he said.

“Until we start to deal with it, everything is pretty much guesswork.”

treaves@sunjournal.com

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