Gloria McGraw and Brandon Reed

FARMINGTON — Voters will elect a selectman and two school directors Monday at polling stations in the Community Center on Middle Street. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Incumbent Matthew Smith is running unopposed for selectman.

Incumbent J. Wayne Kinney is seeking a two- year term on the Regional School Unit 9 board of directors.

Gloria McGraw, who raised her family in Farmington, and Brandon Reed, a University of Maine Farmington student, are seeking the three-year term held by school board member Dennis O’Neil.

McGraw and Reed responded to questions sent recently by email.

An educator/administrator for more than 20 years in the district, McGraw wrote she has always been proud of that service, proud of the district and pleased with the offerings for students. She indicated she is seeking the position because she has time to devote to the board.

“I have absolutely NO AGENDA, no particular item to focus on negatively,” she wrote. “I believe this has been a very tough year for students, families and staff; it is our job as community members to support them in any way possible. We look forward to 2021-22 being a MUCH better year for all with no COVID restrictions.

“I have had five children and stepchildren go through this district,” she said. “I had three grandchildren go through and I now have three grandchildren currently in the district. This is my way of giving back for a lot of great experiences in my family.”

Reed said he is running because he believes students in the district deserve accurate representation.

“Though I am a student in college, I can relate to and understand the many struggles that our students face on a daily basis,” he wrote. “I also feel that this would be a great opportunity for me to give back to the community.

“I believe that I can provide some new perspectives that will bring a new life and energy to the board,” he wrote.

McGraw said some of the biggest challenges facing the district are dealing with COVID-19 and recruiting, respecting and keeping good staff.

“Continue offering the many wonderful options from academics to extracurricular options to adult ed to vocational options to art, music and phys ed … and not increase budgets significantly,” she cited as challenges. “This is an impossible task, given the mandates and the negotiated contract costs.”

The biggest challenge for RSU 9 is the strained relationship between the members of the board and the parents and faculty, Reed noted.

“Many individuals are getting tired of “arm-chair members” who are unwilling to make a real difference in our district,” he said. “RSU 9 is in desperate need of new and fresh ideas that will help mend this relationship and create a more proactive board.”

Asked about efforts to keep the budget from increasing, McGraw said, “Encourage transparency in every aspect of the budget. Look for income sources as well as look at expenses. I don’t feel that my major duty is to cut the budget. My major duty is to make decisions that are best for students and staff.”

A shift toward more sustainable practices throughout the district will prove to not only be helpful for the environment, but will in turn play a crucial role in saving more money in the future, Reed indicated.

“Though this would hardly be a panacea for the district, I feel that it would be a good start on the long road that is fixing the many issues with our budget,” he noted.

Asked about other experiences and expertise she would bring to the position, McGraw said she serves on the Farmington Planning Board and has been “been very active over the past years in Farmington Downtown Association, Farmington Bicentennial Committee, etc.,” she wrote. “I was a teacher and administrator here in SAD 9 for 20 years. I also served as director of Special Education in the SAD 54 district for seven years. In those positions I helped develop new special education options, helped create programs such as Dropout Prevention, Teen Moms, English as a Second Language and more.

“I was very proud to represent this district on national committees and on state level associations, serving as president of the Special Education Directors group,” she continued. “In the jobs here in SAD 9, I worked very closely with UMF faculty and various programs. I even taught at UMF part time and one full semester as a substitute.

“I believe I offer expertise in student programming, in hiring staff, in dealing with parents in often difficult situations, in being creative when searching for funding and more,” she said.

Reed was previously treasurer for the UMF College Democrats, is president and co-founder of the UMF College Independents club, manager of UMF’s student events center and has recently been named a 2021 Newman Civic Fellow.

“I believe that these opportunities have not only provided me with necessary experiences with budgets, committees, and public outreach, but they have also strengthened my leadership skills and my passion for serving others,” he noted.

McGraw has been in Farmington since 1965, leaving for short terms but always returning.

“I raised my family here, renovated or built a few homes, owned and operated a real estate office, been very involved in many aspects of Farmington schools and business in town,” she wrote. “My husband was an optometrist in Farmington. I have wonderful and strong connections with many teachers, mentors, town leaders, volunteer connections and so forth.”

While not originally from Maine, Reed has been visiting family in the Farmington/Wilton area for years.

“With every trip we took, I felt a stronger and stronger connection to this area and this state,” he wrote. “There is such a welcoming and pleasant atmosphere that makes you feel at home the minute you arrive. When I was looking at possible colleges, I knew that the University of Maine at Farmington was the perfect place for me. Over the past two years, I have worked hard to integrate myself into my community here at UMF and now, I feel that it is time for me to serve the Farmington community as well.”

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