BETHEL — The Oxford County Democrats held a meeting on Dec. 11 at the Crescent Park School. The meeting was preceded by a candidates meeting at 11:30 and a bountiful potluck lunch with more than 50 attending.

Candidates for U.S. Senate Rep. Jon Hinck of Portland and former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap circulated throughout the lunch. The meeting was opened by Cathy Newell, with introduction of officeholders and candidates by Assistant Democratic Leader, Rep. Terry Hayes. Those present were Rep. Sheryl Briggs; Rep. Helen Rankin; Dennise Whitley, candidate for Senate 13; Colin O’Neill, candidate for House 100; Charleen Chase, candidate for commissioner-south; plus incumbents not in a re-election year, Roy Gedat, county treasurer; and Pat Shearman, register of deeds. Chairwoman Cathy Newell gave regrets from those unable to attend including Jane Rich, candidate for commissioner-north; Rep. Matt Peterson, Register of Probate Bruce Rood and Sen. John Patrick.

Dennise Whitley of Norway introduced the U.S. Senate candidates Dunlap and Hinck and conducted a program involving remarks by both candidates and some questions and answers. Congressman Mike Michaud, and manager Greg Olson, joined the meeting and the congressman provided an update from Washington, and took questions.

The remainder of the meeting was devoted to county committee business. Brenda McHugh of Mexico was elected to the state committee and Colin O’Neill of Oxford was elected to the vacant platform committee slot. Plans for the 2012 municipal caucus meetings were announced.

The caucus date is Feb. 26. Regional caucus locations such as those traditionally held in Rumford and Bethel will be encouraged, and speakers and programs to generate attendance will be planned. Focus will be on state convention and on securing signatures for candidates. There will be some regional meetings planned for January and February as well, including those in the River Valley, southern Oxford and Bethel areas. All will focus on caucus planning and assistance to candidates.

Emily Ecker of Bryant Pond announced an initiative, Western Maine Matters, regarding the national guard flight patterns and ongoing pressure on FAA. The final plan will come out soon and will have a 30-day comment period.

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