A former state legislator faces off against an active community member who has served on several local committees in the race for a seat on Oakland’s Town Council to replace Mark Fisher, who is not running for re-election.

Oakland voters will choose between Robert Nutting, 70, who represented Oakland and Sidney in the Maine House of Representatives from 1998 to 2006 and again from 2008 to 2016, and Kelly Roderick, 53, who has served on a variety of local committees, including the Budget Committee, the school board, the board of the Oakland Historical Society and, most recently, the comprehensive planning committee.

Nutting, who was also a member of council from 1977 to 1988, is running again to use his experience to help the town grow.

“As Oakland continues to grow, I think we will see more and more people moving here because of the low property taxes,” he said. “We need to, I think, make sure we have a handle on that growth and have the town grow the way the citizens want it to.”

Most residents enjoy the small-town feel of Oakland, Nutting said, and he hopes to protect that sense and the town’s property values while allowing for economic development.

Nutting was a pharmacist before he retired recently. He previously owned True’s Pharmacy, which closed after 33 years in business because of a Medicaid overbilling dispute with the state. The state Department of Human Services alleged that Nutting owed $1 million for goods and services the business had received in reimbursements because of incorrect record keeping and billing through MaineCare, the state’s version of Medicaid. The state refused to settle for the amount Nutting offered after he couldn’t offer sufficient invoices for the products. Nutting declined to comment on the issue.

Nutting is also a member of the newly formed comprehensive planning committee in Oakland, which is working with the Central Maine Growth Council to encourage development — but not in areas where it could harm the value of someone’s home, he said.

“As more people move to Oakland, we want them to feel free to build homes in neighborhoods with homes and have the value of those properties protected by a comprehensive plan, which tries to designate certain parts of town where certain things go together,” Nutting said. The committee isn’t planning to zone the town, though, as that would be too restrictive, he said.

Nutting also hopes to maintain the town’s low tax rate, which he said is what makes it attractive compared to neighboring communities such as Waterville.

“Oakland is doing a lot of things right,” Nutting said, adding that he hopes to assist the council by anticipating future growth.

Roderick is also a member of the comprehensive planning committee and hopes to encourage growth with “reasonable control and reasonable adjustments.”

“You have to grow or you become stagnant,” she said.

Having served on a number of local committees and boards, including the Budget Committee and the Friends of Maine Children’s Home board, Roderick said running for Town Council seemed like the logical next step to serve her community.

“My goal is to bring town government down to a level that is understandable for the average Oakland resident,” said Roderick, who is a senior office manager at Atlantic Partners Emergency Management Services.

Roderick said communication between the government and residents has improved dramatically over the last few years, and she hopes to continue improving it as the town grows and local and state issues have greater effects on the town.

“Oakland’s changing. It’s growing every day, and I’d like people to have their voice heard,” she said. Oakland is already a strong community that works well, she said, adding that she hopes to continue that success and improve upon it with growth and planning. Through the comprehensive plan, Roderick wants to make sure Oakland is a place people want to visit and also move to.

Roderick also hopes to welcome more small businesses to Oakland and encourage the FirstPark development to become “recharged.” She wants to keep taxes in check, while at the same time providing enough money to the schools so that children can have a quality education.

“Our school system is important because that’s what’s going to create our future,” she said. “They’re going to be our future business leaders. They’re going to be our future medical providers. They’re going to be our future everything.”

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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