WATERFORD — Voters will elect one of two candidates for the Board of Selectmen on Friday, March 3.

Polls will be open from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Waterford Municipal Municipal Building, 366 Valley Road.

Selectman Randy Lessard is being challenged by political newcomer Allan Barden, who did not respond to the questionnaire sent out to both candidates. 

Lessard, who has served on the board since 2008, has been chairman since 2010.

Also on the ballot is longtime School Administrative District 17 Director Barry Patrie, who is running unopposed. Patrie is a former chairman of the town Finance Committee, and acted as chairman of the team representing SAD 17 during lengthy teachers’ contract negotiations. He also serves on SAD 17’s Budget Committee, Operations Committee and Curriculum and Personnel Committee.

Reached by phone Monday, Barden said he did not care to respond to questions about his candidacy.

“Oh, I threw that away,” he said when asked if he received a questionnaire.

Lessard, who works as a business unit manager for Nichols Portland in Portland, has been active in local and statewide politics and community service for many years. In addition to serving as selectman, he was on the Waterford Government Committee and the Waterford Taxation Committee in 2007.

He also has been a member of the board of directors of Maine Adventures in Creativity for the past three years and problem captain for the past 20 years for Odyssey of the Mind.

Lessard said he is running because he wants serve the community.

“Probably the most important reason is my love for this community and my desire to find a way to serve my friends and neighbors,” said Lessard in his written response. “There are a lot of ways of serving and Waterford has been blessed that many people who have found many different ways of doing just that. I just happened to discover that my business background provided me with some tools and experiences that were beneficial to the Board of Selectmen.”

Lessard cited the need to control taxes as the most important issue facing the town.

“To my way of thinking taxes are a necessary evil,” Lessard stated. “Without them, all of the functions of the town would come to a screeching halt.

“However, the selectmen also have an obligation to allow the people who pay the taxes to keep as much of their money in their pockets as possible,” he said. “So a balance needs to be struck between the responsible funding of town functions and the desire to keep the tax burden as low as possible. This has been a primary concern of mine during my nine years as a (selectman) and I have written about it numerous times in the town report.”

Lessard also said that there must be a fair and equitable distribution of taxes.

“Waterford’s Board of Selectmen also serves as the Board of Assessors, which means they are responsible for making sure that everyone pays their fair share, no more and no less,” he said. “This takes a lot of work to do right, and a lot of training.”

Lessard also cited the need to preserve Waterford’s sense of community as very important to his role as selectman.

“Waterford has a history of people coming together to serve one another in areas where they have a passion,” he said. “From our Fire Department to our churches to our library, we rely on a small group of volunteers to provide some very important services. Unfortunately time marches on and this group is aging. We need to find a way to get another generation of people engaged so that our sense of community giving and involvement can be preserved.”

If elected, Lessard said he hopes to continue to serve Waterford in an informed manner and does so in part through his work training and experience.

“Because Waterford doesn’t have a town manager the selectmen have to do a lot,” he said. “Action is required, and it extends way beyond the bi-weekly meetings. I’ve always tried to make sure I am informed regarding what is required of every function and every situation I’ve been in. I’ve been able to draw heavily on my training and experiences obtained while working for a large corporation. I’ve also attended dozens of classes for selectmen and I went through a 60-hour training class and eight-hour test so that I could get certified as an assessor. I did this so that I could be confident that the work we do every year in setting property taxes creates the equity and fairness that the law requires and Waterford’s taxpayers deserve.”

Lessard said that during his tenure as selectman, the board has set property values and improved the budgeting process, which in turn has made the town financially healthy.

Additionally, the board has created a long-term capital plan for the Highway Department that is funded without “spiking” the mill rate when equipment is purchased and will be true as the town’s Road Plan continues to be completed.

Finally, he said, the town’s tax rate continues to be flat.

“We were able to do this by making sure that town spending did not exceed our ability to pay for it,” he said.

“There is much more work to be done and my hope is that the voters of Waterford appreciate the effort I put into the position and have confidence in my abilities, to the point where they re-elect me for another term,” he concluded.

The annual town meeting will be held Saturday, March 4, at the Municipal Building. Action on the 70-article warrant will begin at 9 a.m.

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Randy Lessard

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