HALLOWELL — One candidate for city councilor-at-large touts his years of experience in state government, while the other says that as the mother of a young child, she can serve as a voice for families on the City Council.

Alan Stearns and Jeanne Hoxie are running for the at-large seat being vacated by Pete Schumacher.

It is the only contested race for Hallowell City Council this year. Ward 3 councilor Philip Lindley and Ward 5 councilor Lisa Harvey McPherson are running for re-election, and Jed Wartman is running to succeed Steve Vellani in Ward 1.

Alan Stearns, 45, has lived in Hallowell for 14 years and serves as executive director of the Royal River Conservation Trust in Yarmouth.

He worked for several years in state government, including at the Maine Department of Transportation and the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and as an adviser to former Gov. John Baldacci.

Stearns said the biggest issues for Hallowell are road reconstruction, fire service and financial management.

He said Hallowell has a strong city manager it needs to retain after too much turnover in recent years, but city officials need to do a better job communicating with residents and businesses, and they need to be cautious in moving forward with the possible reconstruction of Water Street.

The City Council has given conditional approval to a feasibility study for the project, and the city is awaiting confirmation that state and federal aid would be available for the reconstruction work.

Stearns said city officials need to make sure that the cost of repairing a state highway won’t fall on Hallowell taxpayers. They need to ensure they know what the next steps are and actively reach out to businesses in the earliest stages of the planning process.

“Business owners on Water Street need to help make the decision on whether we do a major reconstruction or a more minor fix,” he said. “And DOT will provide options, but the city really needs to do the heavy lifting to engage businesses and residents to make sure they know the decisions that need to get made were made on their behalf.”

Stearns’ involvement with community organizations has included Friends of the Kennebec River Rail Trail, the Gaslight Theater and the Maine Historical Society.

Hoxie, 26, moved to Hallowell a few years ago and is a stay-at-home mother to her 7-year-old son, a first-grade student at Hall-Dale Elementary School. Until recently, she worked in a direct support position with adults with disabilities.

Hoxie said she wants to get more young adults, children, families and people with disabilities involved in serving Hallowell, perhaps in keeping the city clean or other volunteer activities.

Hoxie said Hallowell’s city government seems to be running well, including cooperation among the current councilors, who bring different strengths to their role.

She said her strength would be representing parents on the council and keeping other councilors informed about developments at the schools.

Hoxie said she hears concerns from voters about the fire station — she agrees with a growing consensus that Hallowell needs a new one — and the city budget and taxes.

She said she does not believe in tax increases but would be willing to approve them if residents explicitly ask to pay for something new, like the additional payment to Regional School Unit 2 for foreign language and a nursing position.

“If communities come together and they really love their community, they will come together and say, ‘this is what we want, we want this,'” she said. “It’s not our job as the government to go in and say, ‘well, we’re taking money from you, and you have to pay this.'”

Hoxie has been active in politics at other levels of government, serving on the Kennebec Valley Republican Committee and organizing for presidential candidate Ron Paul. She said her libertarian views would not play a large role in her work on the City Council.

“My job on the City Council is just a public service, so my personal opinion is not going to matter as much as what the community wants as a whole,” she said.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645

[email protected]

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