RICHMOND — Four candidates, two of them write-ins, are running for the two seats up for election on the Richmond Board of Selectmen.

Voting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 14, at the conference room at the Town Office, in conjunction with the statewide primary and the referendum on the Regional School Unit 2 budget.

Andrew Alexander

Two of the candidates — Andrew Alexander and Robert Bodge Jr. — are incumbents, and former police Chief Scott MacMaster and former fire Chief Matthew Roberge are running as write-in candidates for the upcoming three-year term.

Among the issues the successful candidates will face are the ongoing process to negotiate the town’s withdrawal from RSU 2, and expected budget pressures because of the widespread economic decline from the global coronavirus pandemic.

Alexander, 37, has served one term as a selectman.

“I like being on the board. It’s fun,” Alexander said.

He said he brings to the board the voice of the people and transparency, to make sure residents have a say in town decisions.

When Richmond officials were putting together an advisory board to develop recommendations for how funds from the Pipeline Tax Increment Financing district would be spent, he successfully advocated for more representation from residents on the board.

Over the past several years, he said, property taxes have remained flat or gone down, while the town has accomplished a number of priorities, such as paving most of its roads and buying a new front-end loader for Public Works, a new truck for the Fire Department and a cruiser for the Police Department.

The town has a healthy undesignated fund balance, which could be used to defray some of the costs of Richmond leaving RSU 2, if residents agree when the matter is put to a vote in June 2021.

He previously served on the Budget and Recreation committees.

Alexander is married to Jessica Alexander and they have two daughters. He is the supervisor of the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program at MaineGeneral Health.

Bodge, 65, has served a partial and a full term on the Board of Selectmen, and is now vice-chairman.

Robert Bodge

He said he divides his time between farming, cutting firewood and Port City Auto. For nearly 4o years, he owned Bucky’s Auto Repair, which he sold.

“It takes time as a selectmen to get in there and learn on what’s going on,” he said. “There’s a lot of interesting things going on in Richmond right now.”

One of those is the proposal for Richmond to leave RSU 2. And now that residents have extended the Pipeline TIF district, it need be decided how that money will be allocated, he said.

“It’s amazing that with what the town offers for services, we are holding that line (with the property tax),” he said. “We have to grow in technologies and stay with the times. That doesn’t come without money. People want services, and that comes with a cost. It all reflects on your tax dollar in the end. You have to get that right out front.”

Bodge said transparency is important, and he is always willing to talk to residents about issues affecting Richmond.

Bodge is married to Debra Bodge and they have three children.

MacMaster, 45, was the police chief in Richmond for 10 years before he accepted a position as police chief in Hallowell.

He said he decided to run for office because recent events — including Black Lives Matter protests and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic — prompted him to think about those who set policies and determine budgets.

Police Chief Scott MacMaster Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

“You can either sit back and complain about problems, or you can step up and try to fix them,” MacMaster said. “If you’re not trying to fix them, and sitting back and complaining, you’re part of the problem, not the solution.”

MacMaster said with the renewal of the Pipeline TIF district, Richmond has an opportunity to bolster economic development and promote existing businesses.

He said he would like to see Richmond establish a food sovereignty ordinance, which would allow residents to buy locally produced food from their neighbors. The need for it was shown in the early phase of the coronavirus, when people had concerns about the availability of food and access to distribution networks.

While working as police chief in Greenville, MacMaster served on the Greenville School Board.

MacMaster and his domestic partner, Melissa Hackett, live with his three sons and her son.

Matthew Roberge

Roberge, 48, has been a member of the Richmond Fire Department, including serving as chief, for the 19 years he has lived in town. He is now the deputy chief.

He said he had been considering taking out nomination papers to run next year, but opted to run as a write-in this year. As a department head, he said, he has seen that side of town government. Now, he would like to work on the other side.

“There’s been the same people on the selectboard for several years now,” he said, “so part of my reason for running is that I think it’s time to have some fresh minds and fresh ideas on the board. It’s a political thought of mine at all levels.”

Roberge said he wants to continue the work of the current board, minimizing debt and keep “planfully spending” by making a good five- to 10-year plan so property taxes do not fluctuate and hurt residents.

In this year’s budget vote, the only item on which the Board of Selectmen and Budget Committee disagree is funding for the Police Department. Selectmen want to preserve the current staffing level: A chief and three patrol officers. The Budget Committee wants to eliminate a position.

“It’s incumbent on the board to support the vote that the townspeople give,” Roberge said. “If its to keep four officers, we need to do what we can to help the police chief make the job enticing for people to come work here. I don’t think it’s fair not to give him some support.”

Roberge said it is important to keep a flat budget and still be able deal with the increasing costs of goods and services town departments need.

He said if elected, he would give up his position as deputy chief of the Fire Department.

Roberge is married to Dianne Roberge and they have one son. He is an applications developer for the The Hartford.

Selectmen are paid an annual stipend of $1,800. The chairman’s stipend is $1,950.

For this election, voting will take place it the selectmen’s meeting room at the Town Hall on Gardiner Street.

Ordinarily, Richmond’s Town Meeting is held in June, and its municipal election is held at the time of the June statewide primary.

This year, however, the state’s spring cycle of Town Meetings and elections has been upended by the spread of the novel coronavirus and concerns about spreading the highly contagious virus.

Many towns have rescheduled their annual budget votes. While some are holding delayed open Town Meetings, others, including Richmond, are presenting their budgets as a referendum July 14.

Town Manager Adam Garland has prepared a series of videos, posted to the town’s Facebook page, to explain the town’s proposed budget as a whole and in sections.

Town officials have recommended residents vote by absentee ballot to minimize contact with other people.

Garland has asked for patience from those who vote in person because the meeting room can accommodate only a few people at a time under current social-distancing requirements.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.