BELGRADE — Dennis Keschl, who is the Belgrade town manager, says he wants to return to the Legislature after a four-year hiatus.

He is taking the place of incumbent Gary Hilliard, who withdrew as the Republican candidate in District 76, representing Belgrade, Fayette, Mount Vernon, Rome, Vienna and Wayne. Keschl was elected to fill the spot last week at a meeting of district Republicans.

Keschl also says that he intends to remain as town manager if elected to the House, and has discussed the matter with the Board of Selectpersons recently.

“I think things will be fine,” said Rick Damren, the board chairman, on Tuesday. He said that speaking personally, “I’m fine with it. He’s done a lot for the town.”

Damren also said if things don’t work out, the board will make a change.

Keschl’s Democratic opponent is Carol L. Carothers, of Belgrade Lakes. Carothers, who spent 14 years as executive director of the organization now known as NAMI Maine before resigning in January 2013, is a licensed alcohol and drug counselor as well as a clinical professional counselor.

Both Carothers and Keschl are traditionally financed candidates.

Keschl himself bowed out of running for re-election in the summer of June 2014, citing personal reasons, and Hilliard replaced him as a candidate.

Hilliard said Tuesday via email that he originally had planned to serve one term only, but stayed for two.

“I have enjoyed the experience and feel like I have made a positive impact for the people of District 76 and the State of Maine. I am especially proud of legislation I sponsored during my first term that allows kids to hunt under direct supervision in Maine at whatever age parents decide, bringing Maine in line with 39 other states. I am also happy with my work on the Taxation Committee and sponsoring the World Headquarters bill which helps Maine businesses with world headquarters located in Maine, to stay here and invest in hiring hundreds of well paid employees.”

He added, “I will not serve in the 129th Legislature, but will not be far away.”

Keschl said he wants to return to the Legislature because there “needs to be a better balance at the State House.”

“The partisan nature I understand, but you can’t just work for the party; you have to work for the people. There are people that didn’t vote for me that I have to work for.”

He was Belgrade town manager when he was first took up the role as representative at the State House in 2010.

Keschl said he gave up his administrative job then. “My wife asked me to reduce my workload to spend more time at Campobello,” he said. The couple had built a home on Campobello Island.

Keschl’s wife, Constance, died in March 2016.

Now 71 and a year into the town manager role again, Keschl says he has the energy to fill both roles.

Keschl served in the 125 and 126th legislatures and was on the Appropriations and Financial Services Committee each time. Then he represented District 83, which at the time included Manchester, but not Rome.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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