WINSLOW — A Vietnam War veteran, a construction company project manager, a former church pastor and an executive assistant at a modular-home seller are all vying for seats on the Winslow Town Council this year.

Two of the four candidates will be elected in Tuesday’s election. Winslow councilors serve three-year terms and are paid $25 per month.

Among the four candidates, Jerry Quirion, 68, is the only incumbent. He seeks re-election to the District 3 seat after serving a three-year term.

“My platform is let’s try to keep the mill rate as it is for the next three years,” Quirion said, adding that keeping property taxes low would show businesses “that we’re willing to try to work at bringing them in.”

Quirion also called for more parks and recreation activities for seniors, noting that his district’s demographic profile includes high populations of retired residents.

Quirion faces challenger Gary Owen, 62, who has worked as a project manager for Sheridan Construction for 38 years. Owen served on the Winslow Zoning Board in the 1980s and the Winslow Planning Board in the 1980s and 1990s. He also served more than 23 years in the U.S. Army National Guard, retiring in 1995.

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“I have a business background, and I have a military background, and I want to provide whatever assistance I can and whatever expertise I can to maintaining the lowest property taxes possible,” he said.

Quirion, who is a utility and railroad coordinator for the bridge design division at the Maine Department of Transportation, also has military experience, serving in the U.S. Navy Reserve for 38 years and serving on active duty for 21 months during the Vietnam War.

If elected to an additional term, Quirion says he will help prioritize spending.

“Departments want all this money, and they’ll spend it. Let’s make sure that we need those services,” he said.

Owen emphasizes that he has conducted his campaign in a door-to-door manner, walking his district to better understand the needs of the people, meeting them in person to better understand the issues that affect them.

“I’m not a political entity, if you will, but I want to help,” he said.

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Owen has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Thomas College and an associate degree in marketing management from Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield.

Quirion has a bachelor’s degree in industrial science from the University of Southern Maine, an associate degree in civil engineering from the University of Maine and an associate degree in fire science from the Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute.

In District 1, Catherine Nadeau, who has served on the council for 12 years, is not running, instead seeking a second term in the Maine House of Representatives. Patricia Ayer, 26, and Jackson Benson, 65, will face each other in the race for Nadeau’s council seat.

Ayer double majored at Suffolk University in Boston, earning degrees public administration and business. She works as an executive assistant at Pine View Homes Inc., a modular home company owned by her parents.

“I volunteer a lot at soup kitchens and homeless shelters, and I thought that this would be a great opportunity for me to really put all of my energy and effort and passion for the community to the council,” she said. “I felt like it would be the most effective way to help my community.”

Benson, 65, is the former pastor of River of Life Church in Bangor and First Pentecostal Church in Millinocket. He also assisted in special education classes at Winslow Elementary School and owned a driver-education and motorcycle-safety business in Winslow.

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Benson is retired, but he still drives a bus part-time. Benson said he is running at the behest of Nadeau, his neighbor, who has endorsed his candidacy.

“She took me around, and we got the petition going, and she took me to a lot of different people,” he said. “I didn’t even know the district very well, and then my friend approached me a couple days later and asked me if I would.”

Benson completed two years of college at Jackson College of Ministries in Jackson, Miss. Both Benson and Ayer identify the town’s tax rate, $15.50 per $1,000 of property valuation, as one of the major issues of the campaign.

“Taxes are always an issue unfortunately,” Ayer said. “They’re always way too high. Young people are leaving Maine, and we need to find a way to get them more involved and to stay here, because that’s bringing more businesses in.”

“I would attempt to find another way of getting revenue and cutting spending,” Benson said. “We’d have to find where the waste is and talk about it and say ‘Hey, we can be raising these people’s taxes. People own their homes and they can’t afford to live in them.'”

Ayer also said she is concerned that crime rates are affecting the Winslow community and that education will remain a priority for her.

Evan Belanger — 861-9239

ebelanger@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @ebelanger


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