NEW GLOUCESTER — Four certified candidates whose names appear on the ballot are vying to fill two open seats on the New Gloucester Board of Selectmen.

Incumbent Linda Chase, Jean Couturier, Stephen Hathorne and Kathleen Potter are seeking the two three-year terms.

Nathaniel Berry IV is not seeking re-election. Lynn Conger, a former selectman who served for 11 years, is a write-in candidate.

Voters will go to the polls in a referendum-style vote from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9, at the New Gloucester Fire Station on Route 100.

At a recent candidates forum sponsored by New Gloucester selectmen, the four official candidates all said that low taxes, increasing trust between residents and public officials, improving communications and increasing government transparency for the public were among their top goals.

Linda Chase

Seeking a fourth term, Linda Chase, 52, has served as the board’s liaison to the Budget, Foreclosure, Parks and Recreation and Land Management Planning committees.

An active volunteer in the past, Chase says she doesn’t believe that the town is in turmoil.

“I think a lot of the distrust comes from not knowing and not asking questions,” she said. “I believe the biggest challenge is to get communications out so everyone understands what’s going on behind the scenes.”

She supports the Upper Village Master Plan initiative, which is a working document and requires citizen participation for a future project for the community to develop.

“I don’t want to see anyone’s property tax go up,” Chase said. “I am a good listener/hearer and good at seeing both sides. I am good at compromising and can see outside of the box.”

The top issue facing New Gloucester is the impact of state actions on the town’s budget, Chase said. State revenue sharing funds have decreased in recent years, shifting costs to taxpayers.

Chase is employed at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center as a laboratory information system coordinator. She earned a degree in medical laboratory science from the University of Maine at Augusta.

A widow, she is the mother of three adult children and one grandchild.

Jean Couturier

Jean Couturier, 62, is making his third try for the board.

An accountant specializing in income taxes, he currently serves on the town’s Budget Committee, Planning Board and Economic Development and Land Management Planning committees, all appointed by selectmen.

“We need to work together for our community to make the community better,” he said. “I’d like to be involved in the town government. The committees give me ideas about what it means to run. I have no ax to grind. I’m a moderate.”

Among the top issues, he said, is the need to broaden the tax base in order to help property taxpayers. Couturier says he favors economic development in Upper Gloucester as a way to broaden the tax base.

“We are behind in our capital investments and road paving,” Couturier said. “The Highway Department garage is in a blighted condition,” he added, in support of a new garage. The conversation of where to locate the garage and salt shed is part of a future discussion with the community.

If elected, Couturier said he believes all board members are equal in power.

“All have the same rights, and that has not been the case,” he said.

He and his wife, Sherryl, live on the Bennett Road.

Stephen Hathorne

Stephen Hathorne, 52, said, “I am a proud townie and it’s time to pay back some of the things I’ve taken — a civic moment for me.

“I’m sick and tired of the politics of this town that is driven more for some than for all,” he said. “I’m running for the little people who are beaten down and don’t have a voice.”

Hawthorne continued, “I’m very upset about the two lawsuits going on and feel the situations weren’t handled well.” One involves the town being sued by former bookkeeper Sandra Sacco and the other is against Board of Selectmen Chairman Steven Libby by Frank Staton Jr. for defamation of character. The Maine Municipal Association is defending the town’s interest.

“We need to find common ground and get the trust into our leaders,” Hathorne said. “I feel it’s something we’ve lost.” 

A graduate of Gray-New Gloucester High School, Hathorne works for the Italian Heritage Center in Portland as a beverage manager. He is a trustee at the New Gloucester Fraternal Order of Eagles.

Hathorne was a principal initiator and supporter of the citizen petition to recall New Gloucester selectmen, an effort that won approval by town voters. Just before the vote, he was appointed to the selectmen’s Recall Ordinance Committee.

Hathorne frequently raises issues and voices his opinion during the audience portion of regular selectmen meetings.

While a supporter of keeping taxes low, he also believes in paying firefighters for their service and training.

“We have had a free service since 1949,” he said. “I want someone paid coming to my door. The dollar amount to defray wages (to rescue and firefighters who now earn $15 per call or for training) is not a huge burden.”

He favors rebuilding the town garage, but placing it farther back on the Upper Gloucester lot from its current location. He is against moving the Highway Department to the land where the Fire Department facility is located on Route 100.

“It’s part of the town aquifer,” he said. 

Kathleen Potter

Kathleen Potter, 62, grew up in Bridgton and has made New Gloucester her hometown.

“I strongly believe that the hometown you live in and love, you have to nurture,” she said.

Potter was a School Administrative District 15 board member for two terms. She served on the town’s Budget, Community Fair and Gazebo committees, as well as on the Friends of the New Gloucester Library. She teaches cooking classes through Julia Foss’s Healthy Casco Bay program.

“Volunteerism has gone down; there is a lot of bickering, a loss of the sense of community and a strong divide in the he community,” Potter said. “It’s time to put aside our differences and come together.

“We have a leadership that does not value the community members,” Potter said. “For the mental health of the community, we need to put aside our differences. The citizens feel huge frustration in this community. Things will not move forward with a board divided if we continue in this way to be suspicious.”

Potter was a major critic of the Board of Selectmen’s illegal executive session that took place several years ago, which ultimately led to town bookkeeper Sandra Sacco losing her job.

A top issue facing New Gloucester, Potter said, is the budget problem caused by inadequate state revenues.

“If we had full municipal (revenue) sharing and if schools got funded in local allocation of 55 percent (as required by state law), that’s where our funds are being siphoned off,” she said.

“I do not have an agenda and do my part in volunteerism,” she said.

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