A former selectman, an incumbent selectman and a former Mt. Blue music teacher will vie for two open Farmington select board seats at Monday’s annual Town Meeting.
Andrew Buckland, Stephan Bunker and Dennis Pike are running for seats currently held by Pike and Jessica Berry, who is not seeking re-election.
Voting is Monday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Farmington Community Center on Middle Street. Absentee ballots are available at the Town Office.
Pike, 75, former Franklin County sheriff, is a lifelong Farmington resident with a long history in local government. Pike said he would like to stay on the board to be involved in upcoming issues like a possible natural gas pipeline and a proposed regionalization of area fire departments.
Franklin County towns have been mulling over the idea of regionalizing fire services to combat poor staff retention rates at area fire departments. County residents will meet in April to consider if working together would ensure sufficient staff and equipment as volunteer rates drop and budgets get tighter.
Pike said he feels its inevitable that the fire departments will have to regionalize.
The proposed natural gas pipeline being negotiated, is something Pike said he has environmental and safety reservations about. However, he said he supports the effort because of the economic benefits of reducing energy costs.
Over the course of 47 years, Pike worked his way up from a Farmington police officer to county sheriff and served on the select board since 1998. He is also an active member of the Elks Lodge and the American Legion.
Also running for select board is Buckland, 57, a self-employed music teacher and musician, who works with the Crossroads International Celtic Festival and the music sub-committee for the Farmington Downtown Association.
“After voting my conscience in Farmington for the past 25 years, I feel compelled to become more involved to help the town make sound management decisions as we move forward into the future,” he said.
Buckland used to teach music at Mt. Blue and said his background gives him the ability to work with the schools on budget matters, balancing the need for quality education with the budget constraints. Before working in the schools he worked in Winslow at Northeast Labs, and for the Department of Environmental Protection.
Buckland said he is “on the steep part of the learning curve” on the issue of possibly regionalizing, but said it’s worth exploring whether the move could save on money without sacrificing response time.
The third candidate, Bunker, 64, a previous chairman of the board, said he hopes to serve as a consensus-builder.
“There has been years of turnover and change, and I can offer years of experience to give balance between the new and experienced board members,” he said.
Along with his time on the board, Bunker has served on the budget committee, the Mt. Blue School board, the planning board, the revolving loan fund committee, the fire department and was president of the board for the Maine Municipal Association.
Bunker said the town would benefit from regionalizing the fire department, as well looking for other sharing opportunities with other groups like the University of Maine at Farmington, neighboring towns and county government.
Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252 firstname.lastname@example.org