SKOWHEGAN — Four candidates are competing for one open seat on the five-member Skowhegan Board of Selectmen in secret ballot voting Tuesday.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the Municipal Building on Water Street. The regular business portion of Town Meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday in the Opera House, upstairs from the municipal offices.

There also are four open seats from Skowhegan on the School Administrative District 54 board of directors. There are three candidates for the school board seats: incumbents Mark Bedard, Jeannie Conley and Margaret Lovejoy.

In the race for selectman, Steven Emery, a local building contractor, is facing plumbing contractor Randall Franck, longtime community volunteer Gene Rouse and local developer Christopher Kruse. The seat became available when board Chairman Donald Skillings declined to seek re-election.

Emery, 41, said he a builder of new homes, renovations and additions as well as a big-rig truck driver. He is married and has two young children. Emery grew up in Fairfield and later moved to Skowhegan, where he graduated from high school. He said he has never run for office before but served as a trustee of a church committee in the past.

“I want to be part of the community,” he said. “I want to help it change and help it grow.”

Emery said he would support some kind of zoning in Skowhegan and would like to see general improvement to town roads. He said he would be interested in every aspect of town government and would listen to the people to hear what they have to say.

Randall Franck, 68, graduated from Skowhegan Area High School in 1967 and went on to get a degree in plumbing and heating from Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle. He has run R.L. Franck Plumbing and Heating ever since. He is married and has two daughters and two grandchildren. Franck served in the Army from 1969 to 1971.

Franck said town spending will be on his mind if he is elected Tuesday. He said he questions the rate at which the town buys new trucks and highway equipment and would like to see the town get in line with private businesses when it comes to wages and benefits, because they affect property taxes.

Franck said he has never run for political office before and is “stepping out of his comfort zone” to do so now.

“I have run a successful business for almost 40 years,” he said. “I will do the best I can to understand both sides of the issue before I make a decision.”

Rouse, 73, moved to Skowhegan with his wife, Amy, in 1991 because they liked what they saw in the local school system. He studied chemical engineering in his native Missouri and worked for the quality assurance programs at the former Solon Manufacturing and Crowe Rope Industries. Rouse is on the Skowhegan Budget and Finance Committee and was a member of the Main Street Skowhegan board. He and his wife are recent recipients of the Spirit of America award for their volunteering in the community.

Town issues important to Rouse include attempting to keep police officers and police chiefs in town and not have them leave for other departments.

“I have a track record of wanting to be a little more proactive in retaining our police officers,” He said. “I would like to retain the police chief longer than we have since Butch Asselin was here. When we first moved here, the officers were here. You got to know them.”

Rouse said he also would like to see more funding in the town’s capital reserve accounts for the next “rainy day,” if it ever comes. He said he’s a fiscal conservative and a social moderate.

Kruse, 49, a member of the Planning Board, moved back to Maine 10 years ago from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he and his family were in the hotel business. He grew up in Jackman and lived in Skowhegan during his youth. He is owner of Tradewinds Market in Norridgewock and Olde School Apartments on the site of the former junior high school in Skowhegan, which he originally wanted to turn into a hotel. Kruse is married and has two children.

He previously was on the Norridgewock Planning Board.

Kruse said the point of his running for selectman — first in Norridgewock, and later in Skowhegan — is that he’s concerned with keeping taxes as low as possible.

“We live in a great town and a great area to raise a family,” Kruse said in an emailed statement. “We must continue to work on ways to bring business and investment back to town and to grow and prosper. We have a lot of challenges regarding our finances and must face some difficult questions in the future with taxes and our revenue base.”

He said the state is dealing with a serious drug epidemic and residents must continue to “protect our youth in the face of this problem.”

“I feel that given the opportunity to serve as a selectman for Skowhegan, I would bring some new ideas and input to working through some of these major issues,” he said.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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