OAKLAND — A three-way race for two positions on the Oakland Town Council dominates the town’s municipal ballot this year.

All other local races are uncontested, featuring mostly incumbent candidates for openings on the school board and budget committee.

Longtime Town Council Chair Michael Perkins is pursuing another three-year term on the town’s governing board, facing off against Budget and Advisory Committee member David Groder and political newcomer Gerald “Jerry” Harrington. Voters will eliminate one candidate.

Councilor Harold Buzzell Jr., 64, whose term is also up this year, is not running for reelection. Buzzell sat on the council for three years after serving on the Budget and Advisory Committee for eight years. He said that while he has enjoyed his time on the council and plans to run again next year or the year after, he has “a lot going on right now” and needs to devote time elsewhere.

“When I first ran, I planned on retiring soon after, here we are three years later and I’m still at it,” wrote the special sales coordinator at Hammond Lumber Co. in an email to the Morning Sentinel.

Perkins, 58, who owns KMD Driving School and is a safety manager for Regional School Unit 18’s bus garage, has been on the town council for 12 years and its chair for 11 years. He is also serving his second term as a Republican state representative for Sidney and part of Oakland and had a one-term stint on the Maine School Administrative 47 school board (a precursor to RSU 18) prior to his election to the town council.

“My whole thing is just working with the townspeople, providing good services for the townspeople and keeping taxes low,” Perkins said regarding what he would accomplish if reelected to the council. “That’s what I’ll continue working on.”

Perkins retired as a patrol deputy with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office in 2015. He had previously been a full-time police officer for Oakland.

“I’ve been a part of this community for years. Why not lead rather than follow?” he said. “If we’re doing things right, why not stay doing things right? I think Oakland is doing tremendously with the council we have. Everyone else’s mill rates are higher than the town of Oakland’s — we’re doing great. We have a great council, a great town manager and we’re keeping taxes low.”

Oakland’s property tax rate for the current fiscal year is $16.40 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Harrington, 70, who moved from Bangor to Oakland four years ago, said he is also interested in maintaining the status quo if elected to the council.

“The (councilors) there now and in prior years have done a fabulous job,” Harrington said. “(Oakland)’s in kind of a lull. It’s quiet; there are no real issues. Basically, I want to keep that going, but with an open mind. If a super great idea comes along, I’m willing to listen, entertain it and hear it out one way or another.”

The newcomer to public office said he plans on retiring from his job as a clerk of the works for Oak Point Associates by the end of the year or when the Monmouth middle-elementary school building project he is working on wraps up. Oak Point Associates is an architecture, engineering and planning firm. Harrington said he hopes he can lend his extra time and professional experience to the town. Though he has never been elected to a position before, he was appointed to various construction and building committees in Bangor when he lived there, he said.

Groder said he has “no specific goals” for his time in office, but if elected he would help broaden the council’s knowledge base, especially when it comes to public safety.

Groder, 53, is a career firefighter who has served as Augusta’s deputy chief for nearly seven years. In total, he has worked for the Augusta Fire Department for 32 years, the Oakland Fire Department for 16 years and the Oakland Police Department for 27 years, where he is currently a reserve officer. He has lived in Oakland for 30 years.

“I’ve been in public safety for 30 years or so, which would build a more diverse council by knowledge base so when discussions come up, we’ll have more information when talking about public safety, code enforcement and other things,” Groder said.

The deputy chief is currently a member of Oakland’s town budget and advisory committee after having won an uncontested race for the seat last year. Though his term is due to expire in 2022, Groder said he will step down from that office if elected to the town council. Because Groder’s work with the Oakland fire and police departments is unpaid, he would not be required to leave those posts if elected. The town charter states that councilors cannot hold any paid town position.

 

UNCONTESTED RACES 

Four other elected positions are due for a vote this November: One on the RSU 18 board of directors and three on the town’s Budget & Advisory Committee. All four of these seats are uncontested, though voters may choose to nominate other candidates through write-in options on the ballot.

Michael Tracy, who was appointed to the school board in September, is seeking to solidify his seat on the board. Tracy filled the spot of Mary Anne Lamarre, who stepped down last month because she moved out of Oakland, according to RSU 18 Superintendent Carl Gartley.

Tracy’s wife, Laura, is now the vice chair of the RSU 18 board, on which she has served since July 1. Terms last three years and begin in July. If Michael Tracy loses the race to a write-in candidate, he will still carry out the rest of his term through the end of June.

Running for the Budget & Advisory Committee are incumbents Donna Doucette and Max Marston. Donna Pullen is not seeking reelection and Donna Griffin, a member of the comprehensive plan committee, is looking to fill Pullen’s vacancy.  Members of the Budget and Advisory Committee serve four-year terms.

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