FARMINGTON — A former superintendent in two school districts is challenging Franklin County Treasurer Pam Prodan as she seeks re-election and the chance to continue overseeing the county’s finances.

Quenten Clark Jr., a Republican from Farmington, is challenging Prodan, a Democrat from Wilton and the incumbent, for a four-year term as treasurer. The job is budgeted with a salary of $16,265 for fiscal year 2019, with part-time hours to be set by the treasurer.

Clark, 69, has worked as a school bus driver for Farmington-based Regional School Unit 9 since retiring as superintendent of the East Millinocket Schools in 2015. Before that, he worked for 15 years as superintendent of Kingfield-based Maine School Administrative District 58, was principal of Phillips Middle School and worked as a teacher in Rangeley and Livermore Falls.

He also worked at Great Northern Paper Co. in Millinocket for 15 years until 1987.

“Being a superintendent means you are the treasurer of the school district, so that’s relevant experience,” Clark said. “I was renowned in SAD 58 for being able to answer budget questions off the top of my head. People thought of me as very strong financially and able to handle the district’s money as well as answer questions.”

Clark has a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree in educational leadership and certificate of advanced graduate studies from the University of Maine, and said he was interested in running for the treasurer job because he thinks people should have a choice in the November election.

If elected, he said, he’d like to bring more visibility to the job of treasurer.

“The treasurer should be someone people know and feel they can come talk to and ask questions of,” he said. “Right now, in many ways the county is a mystery, and especially the position of county treasurer.”

Clark also said he would work with county commissioners to help them make informed decisions from a financial perspective, citing a recent plea from the assistant jail administrator to hire more people, as an example of where he could offer feedback.

“(The jail administrator) was struggling with that, apparently; and that’s where the treasurer steps in and says, ‘This is how it works,’ so the commissioners can make informed decisions,” he said.

Prodan, meanwhile, said she didn’t necessarily agree the treasurer needs to be more visible and said she has done a good job of making information accessible and responding to people who have questions about the county’s finances.

“I don’t see how being more visible and in the community would be helpful, though I do strongly believe anyone who needs information can contact me or the staff here at the commissioners’ office,” she said. “We try to be helpful.”

Prodan first was elected as treasurer in 2014 and before that worked as a private practice attorney specializing in government law. She has a bachelor’s degree from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania and a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law.

As an attorney, Prodan said, she was inspired to start taking accounting and finance classes at the University of Maine at Augusta in order to help her with work she was doing with nonprofit and government clients.

She was surprised at how much she enjoyed the accounting classes and in 2009 spoke to the treasurer at the time, Karen Robinson, who was planning to retire, about the job. She ran in 2010 and lost, but was successful in 2014.

Since taking office, Prodan said, her achievements have included ushering in a shift of certain county funds to banking products that are intended for government entities and easier to use, and overseeing the shift three years ago from a 72-hour holding facility to a full-time county jail.

The change meant a significant increase in the number of county employees at the jail and an increase in the work of her office in payroll, payables, recordkeeping and reporting, Prodan said.

“I look forward to coming to work every day, and that’s why I decided to run for re-election,” Prodan said. “I think government service is really important. As citizens, it is up to us to take part in our government as elected officials.”

The race for treasurer is one of three contested races in Franklin County government, including the races for district attorney and judge of probate.

In uncontested races, Susan Black, the incumbent register of deeds, and Clyde Barker, the incumbent county commissioner for District 3, are also running for re-election.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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