Vassalboro residents will decide among three candidates for a vacant seat on the Board of Selectmen at the polls on Nov. 7.

The tenure of the seat lasts until Town Meeting in the spring, when a regular election will be held for a three-year term.

A local business owner, a former state commissioner and a businessman are vying for the seat.

Larisa Batchelder, 38, owns Cozy Barn Antiques with her husband, and hopes to improve transparency and communication between the town and elected officials if she wins the race.

Lewis Devoe, 69, worked as the facilities manager for New Balance in Maine for 17 years and wants to use his business experience to save the town money.

John Melrose, 66, has served in a number of government-related positions, including eight years as the commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation, and is running to keep the town on track and improve some of its operations.

Batchelder, who is studying political science at the University of Maine at Augusta, wants to get information to people more consistently. The town has regulations that people don’t know about until they’re in violation, she said.

There are also town rules that aren’t yet on the town’s website and minutes that don’t clearly list the outcomes of meetings, she said.

Batchelder also wants to support small business owners.

“We have a ton of small businesses, and when I stop at their door and I talk to them, many of them don’t feel heard,” she said. “I’d like to be a non-biased voice that speaks for the people — not my interests, not my friends’ interests, but the majority interests.”

Overall, Batchelder said Vassalboro is a “wonderful town” and she would like to continue the town’s good work while improving communication.

“I love this town. I think it’s definitely the way Maine should be. I loved the fact that my son could safely go to the corner store and buy gumballs, and that the storeowner kept an eye out for him,” she said. “When I was growing up we had that, and I’ve noticed that we’ve lost that a little bit. It’s nice to be in a community where you know everybody is looking out for you.”

Devoe wants to use his experience building budgets and preventing loss in the business world to better manage the town.

“I think the biggest thing I can contribute is the experience that I have,” he said, adding that he would treat “the town as though it’s a business and it’s everybody’s money.”

For example, he thinks the town and the school could save money on energy costs if it promoted energy savings and was more aggressive in bidding.

If elected, Devoe would coach children, townspeople and officials on how to conserve energy and thus save money.

“If we get people involved, even if we reduce a little bit of their energy, it would help reduce taxes,” he said. He wants to look at any ways to save tax money and also ensure that taxes are being spent on the right things.

Devoe also wants to improve communication between the town and its residents. Most announcements are publicized through Facebook, he said, which many working and elderly people don’t see. He suggested getting information on Channel 7 to make town affairs more transparent.

Melrose, the current chairman of the budget committee, is hoping to help guide the town through some difficult transitions now that he is retired and has more time.

“I feel that, with my experience and background, I could help with solving problems and do it in a manner that builds consensus,” he said.

One issue to follow, he said, is the potential break up of Alternative Organizational Structure 92, which presents “a lot of variables.”

Melrose is also interested in pursuing capital planning, which would make financing equipment for the fire and public works department easier and more predictable. The budget committee has already started that process by setting aside reserves, he said.

Vassalboro is generally in a good position right now, Melrose said, with a low tax rate and positive test results for its students.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with towns and cities all across the state . . . so I have a good sense of where we stack up relative to other communities, and we stack up rather nicely,” he said.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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