On the ballot: Bridgton selectman
By Lisa Williams Ackley
Three people are seeking two, three-year terms on the Bridgton Board of Selectmen, at the polls next week.
Incumbent Douglas Taft Sr. is seeking re-election to another term, while former selectman Robert McHatton Sr. and newcomer Kenneth Murphy are both hoping to fill the seat being vacated by longtime selectman Arthur Triglione Sr.
The polls will be open at the Bridgton Town Hall on North High Street from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12.
Candidate: Robert McHatton Sr.
Robert McHatton Sr., who served as Bridgton selectman for 23 years, is running once again, because he believes his past experience in town government can help him steer Bridgton toward a brighter future.
“I moved to Bridgton with my wife and three children, in 1969,” McHatton said. “I worked with Dave Diller at Bridgton Pharmacy, for 18 years. I started my own business, McHatton Cleaning Service, in 1988 and ran the business until I retired in 2009.”
McHatton cited his achievements when he was a selectman that include the Main Street revitalization project of the late 1980s; the North High Street revitalization project; the purchase of Salmon Point; the Bridgton Community Center; the start-up of the Town of Bridgton Sewer Department; the implementation of the Site Plan Review Ordinance; helping to procure $250,000 in funding for the BRAG (Bridgton Recreation Advancement Group) fields; and the enactment of single sort recycling.
“If elected, I will vote ‘No’ to Avesta Housing in the downtown business district;” said McHatton, “and I will vote ‘No’ on Avesta Housing in Bridgton, if Bridgton seniors do not have first choice (local preference) on apartments.”
McHatton said further, “I will vote ‘Yes’ on the (proposed) amendment to the Site Plan Review Ordinance; and ‘Yes’ on an ordinance to give seniors first choice on all housing development; ‘Yes’ on the Comprehensive Plan; ‘Yes’ on Land Use regulations — Route 302 from Naples to Bridgton, Route 302 from Bridgton to Fryeburg and Route 117 from Bridgton to Harrison. ”
Other issues McHatton said he would give a “Yes” vote to are: “‘Yes’ on Pondicherry Park, ‘Yes’ on working with BRAG (Bridgton Recreation Action Group),” and also “review Main Street for parking, and have the town pay for the July 4th fireworks.”
McHatton served as a 4-H leader for 10 years; coached a baseball farm league for 10 years; and has been a Bridgton Lions Club member for 18 years, twice serving as president (King Lion) of the Lions Club, where he was parade Master for six years and received the Melvin Jones Award which is the highest award bestowed by the Lions Clubs. He also served as chairman of Pondicherry Days for four years, as co-chairman of the Bridgton Bicentennial in 1994, and as president of the Western Maine Youth Athlete Support Association.
McHatton said he will give rides to the polls to those seniors who need one, so please call him at 647-4280.
Candidate: Kenneth Murphy
Kenneth Murphy is a Bridgton native, and upon his retirement, he moved back to his home state.
“I remember the happy summers spent in Bridgton, while growing up,” said Murphy. “We had bowling alleys, ball fields, two theatres, caring neighbors and great families. Those memories brought me back to Bridgton in January, 2008 when I retired. After I returned, I came to realize those memories were created for me by hard working people that gave their time and effort to make Bridgton a better place to live.”
Murphy said he hopes to encourage new businesses to locate in town, while help existing businesses.
“I will work as a selectman to bring Bridgton back to a small town that is safe for our children,” Murphy said. “I will work to bring in new businesses and will work to create a town friendly to businesses. I see the challenge Bridgton faces with the increase in second homes and the tourism, our summers are very short, therefore, we must take advantage of the opportunities to give good town services. We must develop new businesses while, at the same time, help our tried and true old businesses grow.”
Improving the roads that lead to Bridgton and enhancing the appearance of commercial buildings are goals of Murphy’s.
“I will work to improve Route 302 and the other roads leading to Bridgton,” Murphy said further. “I will encourage the growth of a business park and work to improve the entrance to Bridgton by working with the present businesses to improve visual appearances. The downtown businesses need our support and influence, and I will help in any way possible to rent the empty storefronts in town.”
Since he returned to Bridgton, Murphy has been affiliated with the Bridgton Community Center as its president, the Bridgton Lions Club, Earth Day clean up, the Festival of Lights and as 1st vice president of the Greater Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.
“I helped to create the Lake Region Nonprofits, giving them a stronger town presence,” stated Murphy.
If elected, Murphy said, “I will remember just how lucky we are to live in beautiful Bridgton surrounded by so many lakes and the natural beauty and will work to keep our lakes and streams at their best.”
Finally, said Murphy, “I look forward to being your selectman. I will commit my time and effort to make Bridgton a town we can all be proud of for years to come. Let’s work together to make Bridgton a viable town with a look of the future with a small town flavor.”
Candidate: Douglas Taft
Incumbent selectman Doug Taft said he believes he has “a proven record of representing the interests of Bridgton and its citizens,” and he wants to continue that record, by seeking a second three-year term on the Board of Selectmen.
Raised in a small town in Connecticut not unlike Bridgton, until he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1961, Taft received an honorable discharge and became a police officer in Willimantic, Conn. where he said he remained “until he heard the call of Maine.”
So, in 1977, Taft moved his family to North Bridgton and began his decades long career as a Bridgton Police Department officer, retiring with the rank of sergeant. He then served with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office as a School Resource Officer in School Administrative District 55 until his second and final retirement.
Taft said he believes that “we have a responsibility for the needs of all Bridgton citizens, but particularly our seniors and youth.”
The past can be built upon in new, creative ways, Taft said, in order to successfully meet the future.
“Our youth are the leaders of tomorrow,” said Taft. “New technologies have made knitting mills and shoe shops Bridgton’s industries of the past. We must embrace new business ideas with an open mind. Our natural assets of lakes and mountains are Bridgton’s greatest assets. We must use them to expand tourism to all seasons.”
As the largest of the Lake Region communities, Taft said Bridgton is the center of economic growth potential.
“Being the hub of the Lake Region offers future economic opportunities, as it has in the past,” said Taft. “The town center’s New England character is an asset that needs to be updated, managed and enhanced. The growth on the town’s highways must be managed in a manner that does not hinder economic opportunities.”
“Upon re-election, I will encourage and assist: the development of programs to meet the needs of our increasing population of seniors; making town employees and committees accountable, including the Board of Selectmen; responsibility for budget items; obtaining funding for town projects from federal, state and non-governmental sources; store owners to maintain and rent Main Street properties,” Taft said.
Furthermore, said Taft, “I will encourage and assist our existing businesses to expand locally; work in rebuilding and expanding the town’s infrastructure such as roads and the sewer system; support developing high school apprentice programs and citizen retraining programs; the development of a mentoring program for our youth in developing job skills necessary to find employment; and the Bridgton Economic Development Corporation in its efforts to retain new businesses.”
Taft said that, “as a member of the Bridgton community,” he is a member of Saint Joseph Catholic Church, the Bridgton Lions Club, serving two terms as King Lion, a member of the Masonic Delta Lodge #153, and a member of Oriental Lodge #13.