NEWRY — Neither of the two men running to succeed retiring Newry Selectman Wendy Hanscom is a stranger to serving the town.

Voters will choose between Brooks Morton and Virgil “Tink” Conkright on Monday at the polls, electing one of them to a three-year term.

Morton, who is self-employed, served a term as selectman before he was bested in 2015 by Jim Largess, who had previously served on the board.

While selectman, Morton was the board’s representative on the Newry Withdrawal Committee from School Administrative District 44. He has also served as chairman of the Planning Board and is secretary of that board. Morton has been a member of other town committees in the past.

“I have been involved in my community most of my life,” he said. “I am happy serving in any capacity where there is a need. WHAT Channel 11 and the Age-Friendly Community efforts are exciting regional projects I am lucky to be a part of.”

Morton said he was prompted to run for selectman when Rep. Fran Head, R-Bethel, and and Scott Cole of Bethel came to a Newry selectmen meeting late last year to announce their intent to seek legislation that would prevent Newry from withdrawing from SAD 44.

The town and SAD 44 are in a stalemate on negotiations to craft a withdrawal agreement for Newry residents to vote on.

“I was content standing in the wings until Fran and Scott spoke to the select board,” Morton said. “I am committed to the protection of the home-rule powers of local government. I believe the effort Scott Cole described that night is a threat to that. The rule of law, with its due process guarantees, is worth standing up for.”

But, Morton added, he does not think of his candidacy as “running” for office.

“I consider walking for office is more descriptive of my gait,” he said. “Tink is a good man and fellow public servant. I am not running against him, but for Newry. Regardless of what hat I end up wearing March 7, rest assured not much will change. I will support the selectmen and serve wherever I can. It’s not about me.”

Conkright is the on the town’s roads and cemetery committees, and is a member of the Fire Department and a past chief. He is also a past code enforcement officer for the town.

He said he had considered running for selectman in recent years but didn’t pursue it. He decided to seek the seat this time after a few people, including two selectmen, talked to him about it, he said.

In addition, Conkright said, he is retired and has more time to give to the job than he would have in the past. He worked for the SAD 44 Transportation Department for 26 years, where he was lead mechanic.

Conkright said he believes the school withdrawal issue is the most important one facing Newry. He said, however, that he would want to gather more information before taking a stand.

If elected, Conkright said he would keep a close eye on spending.

“I’m always looking out for the taxpayers, trying to keep taxes down,” he said.

He also noted the sometimes differing priorities of the two valleys that make up the two sides of town — Bear River and Sunday River.

“I’d like the valleys to be united,” he said.

Voting on Monday will be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Town Office. On Tuesday voters will gather at 6:30 p.m. at the Bear River Grange Hall for the annual town meeting.

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