OAKLAND — Voters in Oakland on Nov. 3 will decide contested seats on the Regional School Unit 18 board of directors and the town’s budget and advisory committee.

Tyler Backus is challenging incumbent Rick Stubbert, who is seeking his third term on the RSU 18 board.

Stubbert, also Oakland’s deputy police chief, is the father of two school-age daughters and a youth sports coach. He said he planned to keep the district “moving forward, as I have done for six years.”

“The big challenge facing us right now is keeping the students and staff safe during COVID and, at the same time, providing a quality education,” Stubbert, 51, said. “I would like to expand the choices of extracurricular activities for kids so that we can get a greater number of students involved in something.”

Backus, 42, works for the Maine Department of Education as its coordinator of school finance compliance & governance. He is experienced with school finances, which he said would transfer over to the school board as schools feel the reverberations of the coronavirus pandemic. Backus has a school-age child.

“My plan, if elected, is to pay attention, withhold judgment of different ideas, reflect on conversations, clarify anything that is unclear, summarize conversations and share my own ideas to create a positive atmosphere for the children in our community to learn,” said Backus, who served in the U.S. Army from 1996 to 2016.

In the other local race on the Oakland ballot, Richard MacKenzie and Justin Richard are vying for a seat on the town’s budget and advisory committee.

MacKenzie, 62, is the founding owner of Construction Consulting of Maine in Oakland. He served previously, for 10 years, on Oakland’s long-range planning committee, and has been on the facilities commission since 2015.

MacKenzie was also active in past years with the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce.

MacKenzie commended Town Manager Gary Bowman’s efforts in updating town facilities without increasing the tax rate, and said he looks forward to emphasizing a push for improving the downtown area.

“I am running for the budget and advisory committee to ensure that the committee has all open positions filled and to learn more about the town of Oakland’s finances and budget process,” MacKenzie said. “I hope to be able to bring knowledge and experience in finance from my own business and my involvement with other organizations.”

Richard, 22, is a full-time member of the Army National Guard, with the 11th Civil Support Team in Waterville. He has also worked for the Oakland and Rome Fire departments for a handful of years.

Richard acknowledged his youthfulness, saying he hoped to start in town politics now so he can begin having an impact.

He said he wants Oakland to become a greater draw as a place for people to live and businesses to operate.

“I am starting at a young age, running for a committee position with the intentions of climbing the ladder in town, working with the community to make the best decisions for the town,” Richard said.

“I grew up here and have no intentions of leaving. I care about the town and hope to see it grow, but still keep our small, rural-town feeling.”


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