OAKLAND — In Oakland, three candidates are vying for two openings on the Town Council.

At least one incumbent — Dana Wrigley or Don Borman — will be re-elected next week. But Kelly Roderick is putting up a fight as she looks to gain a seat at the table in her third campaign for a council position.

Last year, Roderick lost to Bob Nutting in a close race. In addition to serving on Oakland’s council from 1977 to 1988, Nutting served in the Maine House of Representatives for 16 years, which included a stint as house speaker.

“He only beat me by 93 votes,” Roderick said. “That says a lot, as far as I’m concerned. That was enough for me to say: ‘One more time. I’m going to try one more time.'”

All three candidates expressed a strong desire to provide a high quality of life for residents of all ages in Oakland.

“That’s the main thing that (town government does), I think: We try to provide a nice place for people to live,” Wrigley said. “We want people to come to Oakland … (and) make Oakland a place where people want to live and where they can afford to live.”

Wrigley praised the town’s low tax rate and expressed a desire to keep taxes as low as possible if elected for another term.

“It’s very important — a lot of people are on fixed income — to keep our tax rate down,” he said. “Other expenses are going up, and we can’t do much about that; but we try to control our tax rate.”

Wrigley has been on the council for 12 years.

Borman, who has served three terms on the council, said putting effort into recycling and conservation efforts is one of the most important ways to keep Oakland residents saying, in his words, “‘We’re proud to be here. We don’t want to leave. We want to buy houses. We want to educate our kids here.'”

“The lakes are important to our growth and status as a community,” Borman said. “Two of our major pieces of property are on the lakes, and we have to protect those lakes and make sure the quality is sufficient for future generations.”

If elected, Borman also hopes to help complete several facilities projects for the town that he was involved with. They include a proposed fire station that goes before voters in this year’s election.

For Roderick, a priority is bringing a fresh perspective to the town’s government.

“I feel like people tend to think … that if the same people have been running for years and years and years and serving as our town leaders, then that’s OK, and yet they (also say), ‘We need new people,'” Roderick said. “I want to be one of those new people.”

She said that sentiment is not necessarily indicative of the town’s desire to see female representation on the council, which has been all male since at least 2015.

“I hear a lot of ‘It’s the good old boys system,'” Roderick said. “But I look at it as these are people who have served for years and have done a good job, and they just happen to be men. … I think people are just looking for change.”

Though she never has held a seat on the council, Roderick once represented Oakland on Regional School Unit 18’s school board and was an elected official on several town committees, including the Budget and Advisory Committee. She started a Facebook page to report on the goings-on of town meetings and, with the town’s help, created a community ice rink on Belgrade Road last year after a fellow Oakland resident proposed the idea to her.

“You’ll never meet anybody more passionate about their community than me,” she said.

Roderick said she wants to keep taxes low while also encouraging the town’s growth.

“We need to grow for (Oakland) to sustain itself and not have everybody leave … and in order to do that, you’ve got to keep your taxes in check and you’ve got to bring new businesses in. You’ve got to bring families in,” she said. “(I want to) keep our growth going but not to an extent that it’s no longer hometown Oakland. I want it to always be hometown Oakland.”

On Tuesday, Oakland voters will see other offices on the ballot that need to be filled. Laura Tracy is running unopposed for a seat on the RSU 18 school board. Nathan Bernier, David Groder and Donald Ponitz also are running unopposed for four-year positions on the town’s Budget and Advisory Committee.

FIRE STATION REFERENDUM

Only one municipal referendum comes before Oakland residents this month: whether to approve a $2.6 million plan to build a new fire station. The current fire station is 65 years old and has several structural deficiencies that have made it unequipped to meet the town’s needs. The project would be financed by a 30-year bond and a $140,000 contribution from Oakland’s municipal building reserve account. Town Manager Gary Bowman said that its construction would not increase taxes.

Both the Town Council and the Budget and Advisory Committee unanimously recommend a “yes” vote on the question.

If approved by voters, construction of the 12,000-square-foot structure would begin in April and conclude by November 2019. The existing fire station on Fairfield Street would be razed and converted into a municipal parking lot. The new structure would be erected on adjacent land donated by Messalonskee Stream Hydro.

Meg Robbins — 861-9239

[email protected]

@megrobbins

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