Written by Grace Lommel : DEXTER – State and local candidates on the Nov. 8 Dexter ballot answered questions from more than 30 concerned voters on Friday, Oct. 21 at the Unitarian Universalist Church.
Two of the three candidates running for House District 24 attended: Democrat Dave Pearson and Republican Ray Wallace, both from Dexter. The third candidate is Green Party nominee Lee Maynard from Charleston The seat opened when Republican Fred Wintle of Garland resigned this summer. District 24 includes Athens, Charleston, Dexter, Garland, Harmony and Ripley.
All four of the Dexter town council candidates running for two open seats attended: Fred Banks, David Clukey, Charles "Chip" Merrill and Michele "Missy" Smith. The two seats are open due to staggered terms and term limits.
Wallace, a retiree and Dexter resident for 65 years, introduced himself as a strong fiscal conservative and born-again Christian. He believes that 40 years of state debt means that sacrifices must be made. "I want to be one of the guys to do that and make our state come alive again."
Pearson, Dexter town employee for 25 years and current Sangerville town manager, believes that too many unfunded mandates and taxes have been shifted to town and counties by the state. "Maine's got structural problems; they do everything but raise revenue and there's got to be a stop to that."
Questions on party loyalty, billboards, environment and the privatization of prisons were presented to the state candidates.
Wallace said he made it clear to the Republican Party before he was nominated that he ran on one condition: that he was only beholding to himself.
Pearson responded that he would represent the interests of the local district first and that he doesn't believe his arm can be twisted.
Both candidates opposed billboards but had contrasting views on environmental regulations, private prisons and LURC.
Wallace sees environmental regulations as a restriction of private property owners' rights. Pearson, however, believes that sensible environmental regulation is necessary.
Regarding private prisons, Wallace believes the prison system "is currently a hotel" and that privatization would encourage a shift towards a penal system. Pearson said he is skeptical of privatization of any governmental function and called it a tremendous mistake because "prisoners are not a commodity."
All candidates except Pearson were in favor of abolishing LURC, citing the need for local control. Pearson said he doesn't believe the counties or towns could handle the additional oversight which he claims is a "necessary evil."
Town council candidates were asked to evaluate the current Dexter council regarding the town charter and executive sessions.
Banks, owner of Puckerbrook Christmas Tree farm and Dexter Redemption Center, thinks the council is headed in the right direction. Banks said he served seven years on the council and helped write the town charter. He believes that Dexter needs to look to tomorrow; be open to new ideas and needs a cadre of people who know how to work. "If elected, I'll give you my very best."
Clukey, an incumbent, believes that the council is better than they were but not as good as they could be. Dexter needs to buckle down, he said, and work on economic development while taking care of each other. "Our vacant buildings should be full," Clukey stated.
Merrill, owner of Chip's Auto in Corinna and a fifth generation Dexterite, believes the council should follow their charter. Merrill served on the council in the 1980s and believes Dexter can do better for the business man. "We must make the best decisions for the money that the town has."
Smith, who said she's attended council meetings for over a year, said there's been a lot of division about issues before the council. The council should look to the charter to see what its responsibilities are, Smith stated. She looks forward to bringing unity, people and industry into town. "Dexter should be a lively town like when I was a child."
Although everyone on the ballot had been invited, said organizer Jim Bunn, there were no candidates present for the hospital administrative Board, utility district or School Administrative District 46."This content originally appeared as a copyrighted article in the SVWeekly.com and is used here with permission."
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