Two newcomers with backgrounds in business and one veteran public servant will compete Tuesday for a three-year term on the Litchfield Select Board.

The veteran candidate is Selectwoman Rayna Leibowitz, whose three-year term is coming to a close and who is running for re-election. Her challengers are Timothy LaChapelle, a self-employed real estate developer; and Kenneth Lizotte, a retiree who managed a bakery in Lewiston for many years.

Litchfield residents will cast their votes for the candidates during the state primary election Tuesday, ahead of the Town Meeting on June 18.

The incumbent, Leibowitz, is retired after a 43-year career of working for the state. She spent the last 23 years of that career working for the Maine Emergency Management Agency before retiring in 2009. In retirement, Leibowitz is on the Litchfield Academy board of trustees and is the volunteer director of the Litchfield Community Food Bank.

Though she declined to provide her age, a May 2013 article on Leibowitz indicates she was 66 at the time.

After two consecutive terms on the Select Board, Leibowitz said she is running for re-election because she appreciates the platform it gives her to ask questions and “represent the best interest for the town as a whole.”

When it comes to drafting the municipal budget each year, Leibowitz said she likes to keep costs down for the taxpayers, many of whom are on fixed incomes. She described the municipal side of the budget that’s going to voters on Saturday as “very conservative.”

The details of that budget were unavailable Friday.

Leibowitz also expressed concern about the rise in the school budget proposed for Regional School Unit 4; but as a selectwoman, she acknowledged there’s “not a lot we can do about it.” The district’s proposed budget for the 2016-2017 school year is $18.91 million, up 1.84 percent, or $341,711, from this year’s.

Deciding what to spend on fixing the town’s roads will be a major decision facing selectmen in the coming years, Leibowitz said, and town officials already have been studying the issue.

So, she argued, her previous experience on the board will carry over into any future terms.

“Having a new person come on the board isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” she said, “but when there are things going on that are a continuation of what’s been happening for the last few years, the institutional knowledge can’t be replaced in a new person, and their learning curve becomes more serious.”

Yet the two challengers both said it was their inexperience that positioned them to succeed if elected to the board.

Lizotte, the retired bakery manager, lauded the work of the board’s current members, but said his more than 40 years of running a small business would give him “a fresh eye” on the town budget.

“I’ve been tired of taxes going up all the time,” said Lizotte, a 65-year-old who has lived in Litchfield for 25 years. “I’m not saying they (the selectmen) are doing anything wrong, but sometimes it can take a new person to get in there and find where there may be waste in spending.”

While he has not identified any specific areas yet where the budget can be trimmed, Lizotte said he would make sure, for example, no part-time town employees were getting the benefits that accrue to full-time workers.

“I’m very conservative when it comes to people’s money,” Lizotte said. “I want to make sure that when I get into office, obviously, I have to get everyone in town to agree on things. Right now, I can’t say where I’m going to cut. That would be premature.”

To foster greater transparency and plurality of opinion among town officials, both Lizotte and LaChapelle said they would like to expand the three-person Select Board to include five people.

According to a version of last year’s Town Meeting warrant on the Litchfield website, each selectman earns $2,000 a year.

LaChapelle, a 51-year-old real estate developer who has lived in Litchfield for six years and owned properties here for more than 15 years, said the current board “is not transparent” and expressed his hope that the town could make video recordings of selectmen’s meetings and broadcast them for those residents who cannot attend them. He said he also would like the town to keep better records and update its website.

“One person can’t make all these changes, but you can steer people to get behind you to support these initiatives,” he said.

Like Lizotte, LaChapelle also cited his business experience as a reason he could help find savings in the municipal budget. LaChapelle said his experience managing property has made him consider ways the town could manage its own buildings more efficiently.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker


Comments are not available on this story.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.