PALERMO — The only major differences expressed Sunday among three candidates for a seat on the Board of Selectmen were over school issues, not town business.

The differences were over facts rather than opinions, as Simeon Blake Brown, currently on the Regional School Unit 18 board of directors, challenged statements by Holly Harmon, who said her information came from a state legislator.

The debate illustrated the value of one goal espoused by all three selectmen candidates: giving Palermo residents accurate information about issues affecting their taxes.

All three candidates — Brown, Harmon and Robert Temple — told attendees at Sunday’s candidates’ forum they would use technology to share information.

Harmon had a list that included getting cable service into town, a process already started by resident Richard Reitchel and the current selectmen; expanding and frequently updating Palermo’s website; offering more online services, such as tax payments; and televising meetings of the selectmen and other town boards.

Brown recommended a link from the town website to the school unit website, and Temple proposed creating an email list of residents interested in weekly bulletins from the Town Office.

The three also agreed that:

• The November 2011 recommendations of the Palermo Compensation Committee about reducing Town Office costs should be implemented, some immediately and some after more exploration of possible unplanned consequences;

• Bringing new businesses into Palermo, which doesn’t even have a general store inside town boundaries, would be an excellent idea; and

• Town officials should be open to exploring the advantages and disadvantages of Palermo’s leaving the regional school unit, if that is what townspeople want.

Several of the approximately 30 residents present asked about the candidates’ backgrounds and experience.

Brown, 47, has lived in Palermo all his life and served on the Board of Appeals, as an assessor and on the regional school board. In the latter position, he has been involved in personnel negotiations and hiring and firing decisions, he said.

Harmon, 34, said she has lived in Palermo for nine years. Membership on the Compensation Committee gave her a lot of information about town government. She has had 12 years of management experience, and currently supervises 200 people and oversees a $13 million budget.

Temple, 72, has lived in Palermo 26 years and has worked as a plumbing inspector in several towns, becoming familiar with local government.

Both candidates for town treasurer told the audience they agree with the Compensation Committee recommendations to reduce staff pay and to expand Town Office hours.

Incumbent Contessa Mancini, a Montville resident and Palermo taxpayer because she has a camp in town, has been treasurer for three years, during which she said she made many positive changes. Previously, she took college accounting courses and worked in private business; as treasurer, she has taken advantage of Maine Municipal Association trainings.

Angela Nelson was in banking for five years and for nine years managed the fuel business she and her husband ran, until it was merged into a larger corporation. Now that she has time, she would like to serve the town she has lived in for 12 years.

Also present Sunday were two unopposed candidates, incumbent Scott Childs for road commissioner and Will Sugg to succeed Brown on the regional school board.


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