MADISON — Two incumbents and two challengers are vying for the two open seats on the Board of Selectmen.

Vice Chairman John “Jack” Ducharme is seeking his third term on the board, which also serves as the Board of Assessors and Overseers of the Poor. Also seeking re-election is Mike Edgerly, who will be angling for his second term on the board. Political newcomers David Savage and George Elias are challenging them for the seats.

The races will be decided in Tuesday’s election, with polls open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Municipal Building.

Ducharme, 58, is the branch manager of Skowhegan Savings Bank and is vice chairman of the board, said he was running again because there are unresolved issues facing the board that he wants to continue working on. The main issue is how the closure of the former Madison Paper Industries mill will affect the town and the tax rate. And since the selectmen are also the assessors, Ducharme said another ongoing issue is that the mill appealed their 2016 tax valuation to the state.

“I’ve been involved in that since the very beginning of the process. I thought it would be a good idea to run again,” Ducharme said, adding that if he was fortunate enough to win another term, he’d want to see the process finished.

Edgerly, 44, a contractor for RTD Roofing, said he is running again because over the past three years the selectmen have “overcome some pretty big hurdles,” and he wanted to continue the work ahead.

“I want to keep working and get through these hurdles and not leave it to somebody else,” he said.

Savage, 44, is running for the first time. He is a sergeant with the Oakland Police Department and a member of the Oakland Fire Department, and he works part time with the code enforcement office in Augusta. He said he is running because while talking with people throughout the town, he’s heard concerns about the tax rate going up after the mill closing.

“I’m motivated by a lot of residents’ concerns and concerns of my own on which way the town’s going,” he said.

Elias did not return multiple calls this week seeking comment. He is listed as the president for Elias Woodworking Inc., and is also on the board of directors of the Anson-Madison Sanitary District.

The only other contested race in Madison is for a seat on the Madison Electric Works board of directors, where incumbent Charles Worster will be challenged by Brett Hagoplan.

All other races either are uncontested or will involve write-in candidates.

For Ducharme, affordable housing is a big issue, as it seems to him there are a number of empty houses, most of which would require renovation to become habitable. He said there seems to be a shortage of affordable housing in Madison, with a shortage of rentable units in town. But building rental units also would cost a lot of money. He said he wants to make sure there is decent and reasonable housing in town for people.

“I’d like to look for ways to make some housing more affordable for people that want to rent or need to rent,” he said.

One thing Ducharme said he was proud of during his time as a selectman is a business grant program. The program has provided around $180,000 in matching grants to a variety of local businesses. Businesses apply to the town, and up to $5,000 could be awarded. Ducharme said he’s not sure if the town will be able to continue the program because of the mill closure, but said it does make a difference in the town.

Ducharme said he also is proud of the board’s ability to re-purpose old school facilities into usable things. For example, there was a building turned over to the municipality from the school district that turned into a “beautiful park and playground” that Ducharme said gets used by hundreds of children each month. Another building on Western Avenue was turned into an area that’s an ice rink in the winter and a sand volleyball court in the summer.

Edgerly said one of the town’s major hurdles involves the closing of the paper mill, which Edgerly called a “revenue shortfall all the way around.” He also said declining school enrollment has resulted in less revenue from the state. He said the selectmen need to “maintain running this town” until they can get past revenue shortfalls and not put the burden onto taxpayers.

Edgerly, who was once a school board member, said he wants to help maintain a good working relationship among the selectmen, the school board and school administration, and since he still has close ties to school board members and administrators, he can continue to help with that.

“It’s huge that the town and school district maintain a good relationship,” he said.

Edgerly said the selectmen have done a good job of trying to keep the tax rate down in his time, given the circumstances they’ve been under. He also said going from a town police department to being serviced by the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office has been a wise decision, saying Sheriff Dale Lancaster has done a good job there and is “an outstanding guy to work with.”

He also praised the way the town looks. Over the years and before his time as a selectman, Edgerly said, the town made some tough decisions to take down buildings and create parks. Overall, he said he’s pleased with the direction Madison has been headed in and thinks it help draw more people to town.

Savage pointed towards the town’s contract with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office for police coverage. When the town signed a contract with the Sheriff’s Office, it was for five deputies and 24-hour coverage. However, the town hasn’t been getting that level of coverage, and after hearing from residents about concerns over the cost of services, Savage, who had worked with the Madison Police Department for 10 years, said he wants to explore whether there are less expensive options.

Savage also said he’d like to partner with the school district more for services to help keep its costs down. He said the costs for snow plowing and lawn care maintenance are high for Madison schools, so he wants to see if it’s feasible to help offset costs by having other town agencies also provide maintenance. Doing this, he said, would be getting the town’s agencies to work together and not as separate entities, and could reduce costs.

Savage said he wants to keep looking for ways to keep the tax rate down for Madison residents, and that keeping taxes down was the only way to attract more businesses into Madison. He also he wants to get the towns people more involved, pointing to low numbers of attendees at Town Meeting.

“The more people involved is better,” he said.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis


This story was updated at 7:15 p.m. Friday, June 9, 2017, to correct two errors: John Ducharme is the vice chairman of Skowhegan Savings Bank board of directors, not a previous chairman; Madison mill appealed its tax valuation for 2016.

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