The current districts in Franklin County (left) and a map of proposed districts for the county (right).

FARMINGTON — Selectmen on Tuesday heard the pros and cons of increasing the number of Franklin County commissioners from three to five and want more information before deciding whether to support the change.

The final decision will be made by county voters Nov. 2 according to a bill passed by the Legislature in June. If approved, the terms of the five commissioners would be staggered, beginning in 2024.

State Sen. Russell Black, R-Wilton, shared details of the proposal with selectmen Tuesday.

“The ballot is out, it’s Franklin County referendum question two,” Black said. “The people should have the right to decide if they want three or five. We’ve had a lot of people support this idea. When you look at the county, more than half of its $4.3 billion in valuation comes from the northern part.”

For years Jay, Wilton and Farmington, plus Strong, have represented the county, he said. “Rangeley, Eustis and Carrabassett Valley have voted to support it.”

Those with concerns, he said, cited the cost for printing ballots and salaries for two more commissioners. The Secretary of State printed the ballots, he said.


As for salaries, Black said commissioners could lower their salary since each will be representing about 4,000 fewer people. And more commissioners would provide better representation and more ideas, he said.

“I haven’t heard any good reasons not to support it,” Black said.

Selectman Scott Landry, a Democratic state representative from Farmington, provided information on how five commission districts would be set up. They are:

• District 1, Chesterville and Jay.

• District 2, part of Farmington.

• District 3, Industry, New Sharon, New Vineyard, Strong and the rest of Farmington.


• District 4, Avon, Phillips, Temple and Wilton.

• District 5, other northern communities.

“One catch is we’re going to have to split off part of Farmington,” he said.

Initially, Commissioner Lance Harvell of Farmington didn’t like the idea, Landry said, and Harvell told him he can’t talk to another commissioner because it’s considered a commission meeting when two or more are present.

“Farmington is the only town split,” Landry said. “We’d prefer not having two representatives from Farmington but we can’t mandate anything like that. This is a totally nonpolitical effort; we’re working together,” he said.

District 1 is represented by Chairman Terry Brann of Wilton; District 2 by Harvell of Farmington; and District 3 by Clyde Barker of Strong.


People in Farmington, Wilton, not just northern Franklin County, want to see this done, Black said.

“This doesn’t alleviate the problem because we still have northern Franklin County as a mass group,” resident and former Selectman Ryan Morgan said. Morgan grew up in that area but said he would vote against it if Farmington is split. He urged selectmen not to support it.

“I would hope the board would do what’s best for Farmington, not what’s best for everyone else,” Morgan said.

“This is a county issue, it’s not what’s best for Farmington as far as I’m concerned,” resident Dennis O’Neil said. “It does away with the buddy system. It’s harder to get three to put their heads together consistently. It does give more representation. The system we have now isn’t effective.”

Representation on the county budget committee wasn’t addressed, Landry said.

“I appreciate the spreadsheet and the maps,” Selectman Stephan Bunker said, and the comments but said he wanted to hear more to make a thoughtful decision.

“I’ve been in favor of increasing the number of commissioners,” Selectman Michael Fogg said. “Hearing the outcome, the pros and cons, it appears it isn’t just simply increasing the numbers. It’s being turned or manipulated to some extent on who has power.”

He said more information is needed.

“The people will have the ultimate decision one way or another,” Black said.

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