FAIRFIELD — Residents will hit the polls on Tuesday to elect six people to positions on the School Administrative District 49 School Board and two to the town council.

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Fairfield Community Center at 61 Water St.

Three of the positions on the school board were left open after the unexpected resignations of Shelley Rudnicki, Caroline Toto-Lawrence and Tim Martin during a town council meeting on July 10. Beth Lambert, Rae Davis-Folsom and Judy Reeves were appointed to fill the seats in August and are on Tuesday’s ballot to keep their positions.

Rudnicki, Toto-Lawrence and Martin’s resignations came on the heels of a turbulent year in SAD 49 that saw resignations of seven teachers, the superintendent and Lawrence High School’s assistant and head principals.

The tenure of former Superintendent Reza Namin, whose resignation took effect on Aug. 2, was rife with controversy in great part due to his divisive restructuring plan that eventually cost the district $417,665 in administrative buyouts. Additionally, conflicts among school board members and two failed budget referendums have rattled the district.

SAD49 serves the towns of Albion, Benton, Clinton and Fairfield.

Heather Hussey  

Heather Hussey, Judy Reeves and Steven Sandelier are running for two seats with a three-and-a-half-year term.

Heather Hussey, 43, is a registered nurse who served on the Board of Selectmen in Jackman from 2010 to 2013.

“I have a daughter who’s 7 in the district so I want to be more active in the decision-making for the district,” Hussey said. “I want to make sure the board is held accountable for their decisions, because they’re the voice for the community. I hope to make sure we’re making good decisions while being responsible.”

Judy Reeves, 54, is a retired geriatric nurse and wants to continue working with the school board since joining in August.

“There’s a lot of potential here and I think with all of the uproar over the last year I think the school board is going in a positive direction now and I want to continue what we’re doing,” Reeves said. “You can either sit around and complain or do something. I want to do something.”

Steven Sandelier, 48, is a millwright at the Hutamaki plant on the Waterville-Fairfield town line and a first-time candidate for public office.

Judy Reeves  

Sandelier said the events of last year are what pushed him to enter the race.

“Things really irked me last year and my daughter suggested I run,” Sandelier said. “I can be an ear and see what’s going on. I didn’t like what happened last year and how the kids were shot down and the parents were kept in the dark. I can be a messenger for both sides.”

Beth Lambert, Rae Davis-Folsom, Zachary Golder and Jeffrey Neubauer are running for two seats for a two-and-a-half-year term.

Beth Lambert, 39, has been an educator for more than 17 years and has been the coordinator of secondary education and integrated instruction for the Maine Department of Education since 2017.

“It’s about supporting the students and teachers,” Lambert said. “I’m running because the longer I live here the more clear it’s become how amazing and passionate the administration in the district is, and I want to do what I can to support them. I want to do what I can to ensure the students get the best education possible. I hope I can bring my 17 years of experience and provide a thorough search for a new superintendent and help to see through the construction of a new school.”

Steven Sandelier  

Rae Davis-Folsom, 56, has worked as a special education teacher at Waterville High School for the last 34 years and has served on multiple school committees during her tenure.

Beth Lambert  

“I’m running because I believe the board policymakers should set appropriate goals and standards and deal with federal or state mandates without sacrificing the school and community values and objectives,” Davis-Folsom said. “If elected I plan to conscientiously work as a member of a cohesive unit to focus on the MSAD 49 district vision, to adopt a fiscally sound district budget, and to focus on the best educational practices for all students.”

Zachary Golder, 34, has served on the Fairfield Budget Committee and has four children who attend SAD49 schools.

“I am the father of four children enrolled in SAD 49 schools, aged 5, 8, 12 and 16. Because I am a parent in this district, it is very important to me that kids are educated and prepared to face the world by the time they graduate high school,” Golder said. “I believe that every parent wants this for their children, and I am running for a seat on the school board for that reason, to represent other parents in our community that want the same great learning experiences and environment as I do … My goal as a school board member is to build trust and partnerships, while balancing the costs and needs of our district.”

Zachary Golder

Jeffrey Neubauer, 45, held a seat on the town council in 2017 and is currently seeking to keep his spot on the school board because, according to him, he wants to continue the progress he’s seen the board make in the last few months.

“I want to continue. We’ve worked through a number of issues in the last year and we’re working to get better,” Neubauer said. “I want to help ensure policies and make sure we’re being fiscally responsible … I’ve been in service to the town for a number of years and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Stewart Kinley is running unopposed for a seat on the school board for a term of a year-and-a-half.

Shelley Rudnicki

Kinley, 80, served on the SAD 49 school board for 26 years and wants to continue working with the district, especially since the approval of replacing Fairfield Primary School.

“I was part of the facilities committee in 2012 when we started to try and figure out what to do with elementary schools and we worked for seven years, and the superintendent announced at the last meeting that Fairfield Elementary is number one for replacement proven by the state,” Kinley said. “If I’m elected, I want to move the process of getting a new school built and seeing a qualified progressive superintendent.”

Jeffrey Neubauer

Heather Hussey, Judy Reeves and Steve Sandelier are also on the ballot for a seat on the school board for a term of 56 days.

There are three candidates on the ballot for city council.

Michael Taylor

Shelley Rudnicki, 53, has held seats on Fairfield’s Planning Board and the SAD 49 school board and is currently serving her first term as a state representative for Fairfield, Mercer and Smithfield.

“I have been asked by many people over the years to run for the Town Council and I decided in August that it was time,” Rudnicki said. “Fairfield’s taxes are too high. Fairfield needs to become business-friendly. I have talked to many people over the years, some who have started business in Fairfield like myself and those who choose to go to a neighboring town because of taxes and other factors.”

Michael Taylor, 52, is a materials manager for Houle’s Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning. He is the former council chairman and is running again after losing last year’s election to Peter Lawrence and John Picchiotti.

Stephanie Thibodeau

“I think that to give back to your community you have to participate in local government, if you can,” Taylor said. “I don’t have a set plan or agenda. I really just want to get things running smoothly.”

Stephanie Thibodeau, 63, is a retired teacher who served on the town council three years ago.

“I’d like to see Fairfield be more productive in terms of businesses and bringing a better economy to the town,” Thibodeau said. “I think Fairfield has a lot to offer for families and businesses. It’s time to see that we utilize our resources and see a lower tax base … My kids are fourth generation citizens of Fairfield, our roots run deep and I’d like to see us make a name for ourselves in a positive way.”

Albert E. Hodson III is running unopposed for the Kennebec Water District for a three-year term.

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