Race for Selectman: Bridgton Candidates

Four people are vying for two, three-year seats on the Bridgton Board of Selectmen, at the polls on June 14 — Paul Hoyt, Bernard  “Bernie”  King Jr., Ken Murphy and Bob McHatton.

The Bridgton News asked each candidate the same four questions, so voters could have an understanding of where each one stands on local issues. Their responses are listed below in alphabetical order.

Candidate: Paul E. Hoyt

Biography: Paul has been married for 25 years and has three daughters and four grandchildren. He has lived in Bridgton since 1997 and has vacationed here, since 1956. Currently employed with the US Postal Service, he retired from the US Navy, following 21 years of service. He is currently serving a three-year term as a Bridgton selectman. A member of the New Heights Baptist Church in Bridgton, he also has been a softball umpire for 25 years, is a Past President and Charter Member of BRAG, and he has served on various recreational committees.

Q. Why did you decide to seek office and what strengths would you bring to the position?

A. Community involvement has always been important to me, whether it was coaching and umpiring, serving on the board of BRAG as president, or serving on different town committees. I initially ran so that I could be more involved in Bridgton town government and am now seeking re-election as a selectman because I feel I have positively impacted the town and would like to continue to be involved in the initiatives that are currently before our Board.

I have really enjoyed my first three years on the board and have found some of my strengths to include being open-minded, willing to initiate discussion on difficult topics, creative problem solving and being able to think outside the box, being a budget watchdog, and having a sense of humor. It is serious business we conduct, but we are able to have fun doing it.

Q. What do you see are the three key issues facing the town, and how do you propose to address them?

1) Future growth of our town which includes an updated Comprehensive Town Plan. What is needed now is a procedure to enforce the CTP which is what we have initiated and will see through to completion.

2) Initiating new ways of cost savings and increase revenue streams. One example of cost savings is to coordinate with other SAD 61 town managers and SAD 61 administration to work with the state to change existing funding formula. An example of increasing revenue stream would be to increase recycling in the town which may be accomplished through education. I proposed a project where the Library and the Community Center would join forces to educate the public about recycling and any increase in recycling would result in the savings for the town to go to their organization for a certain amount of time.

3) Dispatch:  Either way the vote goes, this topic will involve much of our time, in the upcoming year. There are two reasons that I feel dispatch should go to county. One is because the efficiency report suggested this and the second reason is the large amount of savings to the town not only this year, but each year moving forward.

Q. With the school tax making up a large percentage of the budget, is it time for towns to band together to fight the state to change the existing funding formula?

A. YES and that process has already been initiated by the current board. With 64% of every tax dollar paid by Bridgton taxpayers to SAD 61, it is time that the current formula for distribution of state funds to Maine school districts be reformulated.  In order to accomplish this, we need to pursue this change aggressively in coordination with the four town managers/boards of selectmen and SAD 61 administration in going to Augusta and having a united front to show them the inconsistencies of their formula for distributing funds to school districts in Maine.

Q. If you could make one change in town government, what would it be?

A. The people are the government but feel sometimes that they don’t have a voice, so I would like to see more people come to our Board meetings with their concerns and suggestions to help guide us as a board, because we are there to do the people’s business. I’d also like to see a much larger percentage of the townspeople vote.

One other adjustment I would like to see is for the town referendum vote to be on the same day as the SAD 61 budget vote to increase voter turnout.

Candidate: Bernard “Bernie” King Jr.

Biography: Worked for the Town of Bridgton from 1977-2010 as a police officer.

Designed and wrote the J.A.I.L. (Justice And Individual Learning) program for juvenile offenders to participate in instead of going to court, that has been utilized by the police department and received a copyright from Library of Congress.

Author of the current bicycle ordinance for Bridgton.

Worked with Maine Drug Enforcement Agency to help curtail drug activity.

Member of School Administrative District #61 Board of Directors for nine years (three years as chairperson).

Member of the Town of Bridgton Budget Advisory Committee for two years and act as the chairperson presently.

Have 25-plus years experience in labor/management relations.

Coached middle school football and girls softball.

Have participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics since 1984 and was leg leader from 2006-2010

Served in the United States Air Force.

My wife, Lori and I have been taxpayers for 20-plus years.

I have three children that all graduated from Lake Region High School

Q. Why did you decide to seek office and what strengths would you bring to the position?

A. I am announcing my candidacy for one of the open positions of Selectman for the Town of Bridgton. If elected I will assist the current Board of Selectmen in ensuring the voice of the community is heard. I have always been recognized as a team player. I foresee the economic future for the Town of Bridgton as exciting with the formation of the Community Development Committee as well as the Comprehensive Plan Committee. I support both. I, like the current Board of Selectmen, am a strong believer in fiscal responsibility and accountability to the taxpayers to the Town of Bridgton. I will analyze the budget in an objective and responsible way to separate the needs versus the wants and make a concerted effort to hold down taxes.

I am dedicated to public service. I will be a responsible, dedicated, positive and caring Selectman and want to be an active participant in governing our great Town of Bridgton.

I love being involved in government, a team player who is dedicated to getting tasks done. Instead of sitting back and complaining about something or maybe have a good idea about something, I can be more involved and maybe help in making changes.

Q. What do you see as the three key issues facing the town, and how do you propose to address them?

A. Decline in state revenue sharing funds — results in raising local property taxes to maintain municipal services.

SAD #61 budget — 64% of taxpayer dollars goes to the school budget.

We need new businesses to provide jobs, raise tax base.

Q. With the school tax making up a large percentage of the budget, is it time for towns to band together to fight the state to change the existing funding formula?

A. March 1 citizen’s initiative

Q. Final comment? I did not support the two referendums regarding formula restaurants or “big box” stores because they were too restrictive. A positive aspect of this, however, was that a committee was formed to review the current comprehensive plan of Bridgton to see if anything may have to be changed to be more attractive to people to bring businesses and tourists into town. This review was long over due and I welcome it.

Candidate: Ken Murphy

Biography: A member of the Bridgton Planning Board, a board member of the Bridgton Community Center, a member of the Greater Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, as well as chairman of the Bridgton Festival of Lights, Depot Street Festival and Bridgton Earth Day Clean-Up. He is also a member of the Bridgton Lions Club and the Bridgton Community Development Committee. He is an U.S. Air Force Veteran and retired from Sears in 2007, with experience in retail, advertising and public relations. A graduate of Bridgton High School, he has two children and four grandchildren. He enjoys sports, especially the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots, swimming and tennis.

Q. Why did you decide to seek office and what strengths would you bring to the position?

A. To help the Town of Bridgton move forward in a positive direction.

To be proactive and participate in Community Activities.

Give back to Bridgton for a great upbringing.

Q. What do you see as the three key issues facing the town, and how do you propose to address them?

A. In order to invite our guests and summer residents we need to clean up our Town. Starting not only with Main Street, but with our side streets, front and back yards and roads. We need to work with the State Department of Transportation to get us up to date with the safety along Route 302 coming through Bridgton. We need a Board of Selectmen that is active in all activities that will help Bridgton grow and prosper. When the Comprehensive Plan is done and approved by the town voters work with the proposed plans to complete the task.

Q. With the school tax making up a large percentage of the budget, is it time for towns to band together to fight the state to change the existing funding formula?

A. Yes, we should invite state officials to visit our schools and listen to our teachers and parents about their concerns.

Q. If you could make one change in town government, what would it be?

A. Be more attentive to the needs of all our citizens. When they speak at public meetings take note of what they are saying and follow up with some results. Work with Commerce, Recreation and Environment to Team together to make Bridgton a better place to live for everyone who lives here year round or part of the year.

Candidate: Robert “Bob” McHatton

Biography: Bob has been married to his wife for 49 years this October and they have three children — Doreen, Robert (Bob), and Kim. The McHattons moved to Bridgton in 1968, and Bob worked with Registered Pharmacist Dave Diller at Bridgton Pharmacy for many years. He then started McHatton in 1988 which is now owned by his son Bob as McHatton Water Out, Restoration and Cleaning. He retired in 2008. Bob has been the Parade Organizer for the Bridgton Fourth of July Parade for five years and is the chairman of the Bridgton Lions/Mother Seton House Golf Tournament. His memberships and affiliations include President of the Western Maine Youth Association, Project Coordinator for the William Perry House/old hospital renovation, President of the Men’s Golf Association in Bridgton and Past President (twice) of the Bridgton Lions Club.

Q. Why did you decide to seek office and what strengths would you bring to the position?

A. Three years ago when I retired I was not able to fulfill the duties due to the demands I was experiencing with such a complete change in lifestyle. In my present situation, I am now in Bridgton 12 months a year and am much better able to fulfill the duties of selectman.

A major reason I am seeking office again this term is because I want to be involved and participate in the steady, coordinated growth of the town. I also bring 23 years of experience serving on the Board of Selectmen.

Q. What do you see are the three key issues facing the town and how do you propose to address them?

1. Dispatching — Until the state mandates the town to regionalize dispatching, I feel strongly that we should maintain our own town dispatching services. Also, the Board should look into state and federal grants to help cut the cost to the taxpayers.

2. The “Yes” and “No” vote for McDonalds and big box stores — I strongly disagreed with the wording of the articles. I felt that the way the articles were written would have shut down new business growth in the town of Bridgton. What is needed is the creation of a defined commercial district with land use regulations that would address requirements for landscaping, architecture, signage and traffic to create a commercial district that would protect the image of the town of Bridgton.

3. Town Budget  — The Board of Selectmen has done a good job working on a very difficult budget. I would disagree with cutting funds to the library and cutting funds to our community center while, at the same time, providing for a $150,000 increase in the road program, which was done in the budget for 2010-2011. I think that the road program could still have had an increase but monies could have been utilized so that the community center and library budgets would have been funded at the existing level.

Q. With the school tax making up a large percentage of the budget, is it time for towns to band together to fight the state to change the existing funding formula?

A. I would like to see the four towns making up SAD 61 band together to work with the state in changing the existing funding formula. This formula is definitely out of balance with other school districts. The state needs to redistribute the funds so that SAD 61 can receive a more fair allotment of school funding.

Q. If you could make one change in town government, what would it be?

A. The town has experienced several years of disruption in the police department. With the hiring of a new chief and the addition of new police officers, I feel the Board of Selectmen should work with the new Chief and sincerely provide the necessary tools he needs to effectively operate his department.

Looking ahead, I would like to see the town address the possibility of a Public Safety Building which would house the fire department and the police department. This structure should be located on Routes 302 or 117.

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