OXFORD — Transparency and fiscal responsibility are two of the main ingredients selectmen must have to be successful, candidates for the Board of Selectmen told voters during a May 28 Candidate Night at the community center.

Five candidates are running for two open seats on the board at the June 11 annual town election. Polls will be open at the public safety building on Route 26 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

At the Candidates Night, four of the five candidates spent more than 90 minutes introducing their ideas and goals and fielding questions ranging from perceived lack of transparency to whether they would support construction of a new town office.

Selectmen candidates, from left, Sharon Jackson, Floyd Thayer, Roger Wulleman and Amy Wuori field questions during a recent Candidate;’s Night. Leslie H. Dixon

The candidates are: incumbent Selectmen Chairman Floyd Thayer, a local businessman who has served four terms on the board; Sharon Jackson, who has served more than 20 years as town manager in both Fryeburg and Paris plus 14 years as Oxford’s bookkeeper; Roger Wulleman, a retired law enforcement officer and Amy Wuori,  a new member of the Oxford Budget Committee and girls sports coach at the Oxford Elementary School.

Incumbent Selectman Caldwell Jackson was traveling but left a statement which was read by his daughter. He was able to answer several of the questions through text messages.

Incumbent Selectman Caldwell Jackson was unable to attend the Candidate’s Night but was represented by his daughter. Leslie H. Dixon

In their opening statements each outlined their goals, if elected, and spoke about their contributions to the community and their personal background.

Caldi, as he is known, who served 13 years as selectmen then returned to serve a one and one-half year vacant term said in his statement that he believes he has been honest and has looked at all points of view to make the best decision on behalf of the town. He hopes to continue to work to lower taxes for residents, bring business into town and to celebrate the town becoming a “military town.”

“(Oxford) is a growing town that has so much potential,” he said.

Sharon Jackson, who intends to retire from her municipal job in July, said her goal is to serve as a “team player” on the Board of Selectmen, to be transparent and accountable in her actions. If elected, Jackson said she intends to look at the revenues coming into the town from the Oxford Casino and place them in a special reserve account; find ways to increase the number of people hooking into the sewer system, and set priorities to fix the town roads.

Floyd Thayer told residents that being a selectman, “is not as easy as it seems to be.”

“I’ve tried to vote for what I thought was best for the town,“ he said. Thayer said he believes some of the Oxford Casino money should be earmarked specifically, but, he said, the town should not “spend and spend.“

“I don’t want our taxes through the roof. There has to be a line drawn and someone has to take a stand,“ he said.

Roger Wulleman praised the SAD 17 school district saying calling it “the best school system in the state.”

He said the Grateful Dead concert at the Oxford Speedway in the 1990s helped a lot of local businesses, but created problems in areas such as the town beaches that concert goers flocked to. He said the Mass Gathering Ordinance, since enacted which mandates a permitting process for large scale outdoor functions, was the “best thing.” Voters will be amending that Ordinance to tighten up restriction at the June 8 annual town meeting.

Wulleman said he has concerns about transparency and “things that happen in town.” He called for public hearings on issues that affect all townspeople before the Board of Selectmen takes a vote.

“People should be aware of what’s going on,” he said.

Wuori, who said she is running for the Board of Selectmen” because I want to see a change,” said new ideas and new people will help the town go into the future successfully.

She said the town has a lot of room for growth but officials must keep taxes affordable to residents.

Questions

Residents questioned the candidates on topics ranging from their opinion on building a new town officedemoc versus rehabbing the exiting one, to how to keep taxes low and grow the business district in town.

“We probably need a new building but we don’t need a multi-million dollar building,“ said Wuori.

Wulleman said he would upgrade the building because of its historic relevance to the town.

Thayer, a member of the committee looking at the town office issue, said it was a matter of “dollars and sense.”  “We need to look at it real closely before you commit,” he said.

Sharon Jackson, who also sits on the building committee, said there have been many problems for many years. “You have to look at all the options,” she said, adding many historic school buildings are now being revamped into senior housing.

Caldie Jackson, who answered the question by text message, said the committee has to ensure the figures are in before a decision is made and all information is transparent to townspeople.

When asked how they would keep taxes down. most agreed that the employee health insurance benefits, which pays 100 percent of the town employees health insurance and 50 percent of family plans, is one of the biggest expenses, but Sharon Jackson said it’s part of the benefits package and employees pay may not be on scale with what they could get in the private sector.

Wulleman suggested that the public works department might take over things like mowing town property to save costs of bidding out the function.

Wuori said the town must “shop around” and try to stay local unless money could be saved by hiring outside.

Sharon Jackson said if a town employee is asked to do more work it “takes away from their own work.” In Fryeburg, she said, they often hire temps.

When asked how they would try to grow revenue, Thayer said the board has been trying to attract more business into town by opening up the town sewers and other ways.

Sharon Jackson said she supports reserve accounts. In Fryeburg, she said, they set up reserve accounts so that the money is there if, for example, they need a new cruiser. The town does not borrow money she said. “We pay cash,” she said.

“We can’t just buy the Cadillac. Maybe we have to buy a KIA,” Wuori said of the cost savings.

Caldie Jackson said through text message that the town needs to keep the debt service under control to help the taxpayers.

A few of the 20 residents who came to the Candidates Night to question the candidates and learn about their views, complained that others don’t know what’s going on and believe the town is run by a “good old boys network.“

Thayer told those complaining that unless residents came to their meetings (which are public) and talked to them, “we’re not going to know unless you tell us.”

Televised meetings are currently being set up, which Sharon Jackson said has worked very well in Fryeburg; meetings agendas are posted on the town’s website, time is provided at each board meeting for public comment, residents were told.

In addition to the contest for the Board of Selectmen, annual town election voters will vote on several uncontested candidates at the June 11 annual town election. They are incumbent Tom Kennison for Water District trustee and  incumbents Stacia Corwell and Ron Kugell for the SAD 17 Board of Directors.

Voters will also be asked on a separate ballot whether they approve the SAD 17 proposed FY 2020 budget of $40.9 million and whether they wish to  approve the budget at the ballot box for another three years. The referendum is the second step of the budget approval process.


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