Election Day — It’s a big day this time around
Election Day is Tuesday, with area polls open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Voters will be busy in the booth, between selecting the country’s next president to the state and local level as to who will represent them in Augusta and Washington, D.C.
In Bridgton, four candidates look to fill the vacant seat left by Paul Hoyt. The candidates include:
Jeff Jones — originally from Windham, but grew up in Sonoma, Calif., Jones moved back to Maine in 2004 and has been a resident of Bridgton since 2008, with the exception of a quick three-year career stint back in California. “I came back to our great town in 2013 to help expand the family business (Jones Appliance Service and Repair),” he said. Jones is 33 years old, with a background in Business Management.
At the last annual Town Meeting, I was happy to see what I thought was an above average turnout. On the other hand, I found something disturbing. Many people came to the podium to express their frustrations. Many felt like the selectmen have not been listening to them year after year. They wanted a better understanding of what projects will ultimately cost the taxpayer and not the startup price (i.e. a parking lot and a building across the street). They have asked for the budget to more legible with the previous years numbers side by side for comparison. They had valid issues that should not have been needed to be addressed,” he said. “If the selectmen had listened to the people, then the meeting would have been completed in half the time. Things need to change. That change started with the election of Glenn ‘Bear’ Zaidman. I may not always agree with Bear, but his commitment to transparency and education of town issue to its citizens is something to be admired. A step in the right direction and I believe I am that next step.”
Jones added, “I was also concerned about the lack of age diversity at the annual Town Meeting. I counted only 25 to 27 people under the age of 40. I do not believe that number is a good representation of this town. We need younger citizens involved in the town. If elected, I would be the youngest on the board. I can relate to the citizens of the future. I know their needs and wants. We have a high percentage of our elementary student body that is living under the poverty rate. Many parents commute outside of town for work. Many do not work at all due to the lack of employment opportunities in Bridgton or because they do not have a vehicle or both. I am advocating bringing jobs to our town. The town was built around jobs and we need them back. We also need to bring back tourism as well. We can do this by first seeking out companies to not only invest in the town; but it's people. Not just the companies that can offer employment for 1–5 people but 20+ and still find a way to keep that small town feel that we love and enjoy. We then can use this new source of revenue with the help of grants to help offset the cost of redevelopment of Main Street.”
Robert Murphy — Having 46 years experience as a local contractor and 25 years as an on-call fireman, Murphy says he would bring “common sense” to the position. “I’m not a politician,” he said. “My concerns in dealing with people are very simple. When you want something that is important to everyone and cost lots of money, you have to find the help or assistance through loans or bonds that will help defray the cost of the project. One such project is the town sewer.” Murphy wants to help draw business to Bridgton and find ways to keep “our young people to stay after high school or college and have a career in this town.” He feels money has been spent foolishly in the past on projects that could be tackled by local residents (“just ask”). “We, as a town, have a lot of engineers who may be retired and want to help, but again, they are not asked,” he said.
Phil Tarr — served as town manager for five Maine towns including Bridgton, previously served as a selectman twice, is a current member of the Bridgton Community Center Board of Directors, and served as director of the State Harness Racing Commission. He feels his working knowledge of legislative and governmental operations, experience with long-range and capital improvements planning, and strong municipal financial and budgeting skills will serve the town well.
Art Triglione — decided to seek the position based on his experience as a former selectmen, and a desire to give back to the town.
In some towns, ballots will include referendum questions.
Bridgton has two questions — whether to ban consumer fireworks and whether to allow the Farmers Market to use green spaces along Depot Street.
Harrison asks voters whether to seek a bond that would allow the town to take advantage of low paving costs and accelerate improvements of local roadways, likely over a two-year period.
Statewide, the referendum questions are:
Q1. An act to legalize marijuana. This initiative allows adults (21 and older) to have or grow a limited amount of marijuana. It will create rules for the sale, testing, production and transportation of marijuana and related products by licensed businesses. Cities and towns will have the right to prohibit marijuana businesses. A 10% tax on recreational marijuana will help put rules and regulations in place and enforce them. Using marijuana in public will still be illegal.
Q2. An act to establish the fund to advance public kindergarten to Grade 12 education. This initiative would increase state funding for K-12 education by placing a 3% tax on people with income above $200,000. Under Maine law, the state and cities/towns share in the cost of K-12 education funding. This added funding would help the state meet the target of funding 55% of the overall cost of K-12 education.
Q3. An act to require background checks for gun sales. Licensed dealers already require background checks. This law would require background checks for private purchases of guns with some exceptions.
Q4. An act to raise the minimum wage. This law would raise the minimum wage across the state. The minimum hourly wage now is $7.50. In 2017, the hourly wage would be $9 and would increase by $1 each year until it reaches $12 on Jan. 1, 2020. After 2020, the minimum wage would increase at the rate of inflation. The minimum wage for employee who earns tips has always been lower than for employees who do not earn tips. This law would increase the minimum wage for employees who earn tips to $5 an hour beginning Jan. 1, 2017. Starting in 2018, the minimum wage for tipped employees would increase by $1 per hour until it is equal to minimum hourly for other employees.
Q5. An act to establish ranked-choice voting. This new law will change the way we vote for governor, U.S. senators, U.S. House of Representatives, state senators and state representatives. If the new law is passed, voters will rank candidates in order of preference. Voters may rank as many or as few candidates as they choose. If one candidate is the first choice of the majority of the voters, that candidate wins. If not, the candidate with the fewest first choice rankings is eliminated, and the voters who made that candidate their top choice have their votes given to their second choice. This process repeats until a candidate has a majority of the votes.
Q6. $100,000 bond for construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways, bridges and for facilities, equipment and property acquisition related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit and bicycle and pedestrian trails, to be used to match an estimated $137,000,000 in federal and other funds.