RUMFORD — Four candidates are vying for two open seats on the Board of Selectpersons in the July 14 municipal election.

Steve Dyment, Eric McLean, Theresa Sax and James Theriault are running for the positions held by Mark Belanger and John Pepin Sr., who are not seeking re-election.

Each candidate responded to questions on why they want to serve, their community roles, boosting the local economy, addressing the town’s greatest challenge and identifying the board’s biggest problem.

Q: Why would you like to serve on the Select Board?

Dyment: Changes have been taking place in Rumford. As a taxpayer, these changes have been necessary. I would like to give back in some way with fresh ideas to help Rumford keep moving forward.

Steve Dyment Submitted photo

McLean: I want to be selectman so I can help make Rumford a place where our young adults want to raise a family. A place where everyone from seniors to children can thrive.

Sax: I would like to serve on the Select Board because I have a desire to serve the community. I know the value of a strong presence and I have the life experience behind me to make sound decisions. I believe having a woman on the board brings a positive diversity.

Theriault: I was elected to serve (as Rumford selectman) in 2018 and had to resign because a person can’t hold two elected positions (he was appointed county sheriff). It is illegal. I want to finish my commitment to the town of Rumford and its citizens that elected me

Q: What are some of your previous volunteer experiences or leadership roles?

Dyment: I’ve served on the Planning Board, on the trustee board at the church I attended for nine years, seven years as chairman. In these roles, important decisions always have to be made for betterment and effectiveness for positivity.

McLean: I am vice president of the Greater Rumford Community Center board of directors, where I have been for eight years. I am also a member of Gaskyl Productions, a group of volunteers responsible for putting on Pumpkinfest. I also volunteer to coach local rec sports.

Eric McLean Submitted photo

Sax: Volunteering and Leadership: Military Family Readiness Group; Human Resources Director; U.S. Census taker; Rumford Cleanup with Tony Bennett from Down East Dickering; two awards for Employer of the Year in Sanford, North Carolina for economic growth.

Theriault: I am a retired police officer of 44 years and a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War. I was appointed as the sheriff of Oxford County by then-Gov. Paul Lepage to replace the resigning Sheriff Wayne Gallant. I believe that in 30 years as a department head or second in command, I know how to prepare and administer a budget of any size. I have managed small departments and large departments. In 44 years, I have learned how to talk to and treat people with respect as I would like to be treated.

Q: Is Rumford business friendly and what would you do to enhance that?

Dyment: Rumford is on the path of creating a positive atmosphere to bring business and job growth. What makes us unique is the fact that our center of town is actually an island. Hopefully the upgrades that are being made will make us more attractable.

McLean: No. We spend too much time trying to get existing businesses to move to The Island when we should be focusing on encouraging new business in the whole community. We need to give people a reason to not roll on by to other towns to eat out, purchase rec equipment such as kayaks, bikes and skis. The only way to do that is by gaining businesses and better promotion of our four-season recreation opportunities.

Sax: Yes, but we need to define key marketing segments to align our marketing position to our area. We need to improve Rumford’s image by developing a downtown brand that speaks not only to The Island, but also to Rumford Point, Rumford Falls and Black Mountain. Until we have a solid business plan and a brand image, how do we know which direction we should look to bring in growth?

Theriault: Yes, but I think the board has to have some help and input from the citizens to entice new businesses. We need to be aggressive and go after new businesses so we can lower the tax rate for everyone. This community has all the makings to be a great recreational area and we need to pursue this.

Q: What do you view as the town’s biggest problem and how would you address it?

Dyment: We need to improve Rumford’s image. The need to expand the upkeep of our roads and infrastructure that can be visually seen needs to continue so tourism traffic will want to stop and explore what Rumford has to offer.

McLean: Taxes. We need to expand the tax base (more taxpayers, less of a burden on the individual), by getting new business to come to the River Valley. We need to look at our friends across the river as allies and not competition and explore ways to regionalize services such as recreation.

Theresa Sax Submitted photo

Sax: I would establish a Rumford Town Mission Statement to bring sustainable growth that protects our natural and historic resources, while preserving our values and establishing Rumford as a destination for Maine life culture. Why is Rumford declining? Lots of people have lots to say but does it come with remedies? This is the hard question that needs to be answered before we can move forward with a growth plan.

Theriault: The biggest problem is a big mil rate and the way to fix that is new businesses. Rumford is on the right path to become a very nice place to live. We need to continue to push forward with new businesses and lower the taxes. And stop all the negative talk!

Q: What is the top issue this board is facing?

Dyment: Rumford needs to accomplish positive changes while living within our means to level off our tax rate which will attract future investments for continued growth from outside investors who see Rumford as a gem to live and prosper as I do.

McLean: Budget. We need to lower the budget by finding a better balance between the services that our citizens enjoy and department costs. It is not an easy task, but it can be accomplished.

Sax: Realigning the intention of the original charter and filling the gaps which over time have become apparent. Instituting forward vision to include combined services with Mexico. Funding much needed changes such as the wastewater treatment stations, a new firehouse/police station and new streamlined schools.

James Theriault Submitted photo

Theriault: I don’t think there is a top issue, but several minor issues need to be resolved. The board needs to blend together as one to make decisions and everyone, citizens, board members and everyone involved in this wonderful town needs to work together.

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, at Mountain Valley High School.

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