Meet the candidates: Oxford

0
1816

OXFORD — Five candidates are vying for two,  three-year seats on the Board of Selectmen at the Tuesday, June 12 annual town election.

In addition to incumbent Selectman Scott Hunter who is seeking re-election, four other candidates are on the ballot hoping to secure one of the two open seats. The other candidates are James Bowden, Dana Dillingham, Samantha Hewey and Shawn Morse. Veteran Selectman Pete Laverderi, who serves as chairman, decided not to seek re-election this year.

In order to provide information about the candidates to voters as they prepare to go to the polls, the Advertiser Democrat asked each candidate for a contested seat  to provide some biographical information and to respond to the following three questions:

• Why are you running for the Board of Selectmen?

• What do you feel are the most important issues facing the town?

• What do you hope to accomplish as selectman?

Dana N. Dillingham

Dillingham has been employed by Oxford County as a corrections officer for 19 years and  Jail Administrator for the past year. He currently serves as a member of the Oxford Budget Committee and Oxford Planning Board. He is the former chairman of the Oxford County Republican Committee and a youth sports coach for many years  in baseball, softball, basketball and soccer. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army, Military Police.

Dana Dillingham

Why are you running for selectman?

 “I am running for a seat on the Board of Selectmen because I want to do what I can to keep Oxford a great place to live. We need to keep it prosperous and business friendly while keeping the values of small town Maine.  Spending has been outgrowing revenue and it needs to be balanced.  We need to prioritize spending and develop a long term financial plan that supports our town services but doesn’t cause property owners financial difficulty because their tax bill keeps going up. “
 What do you do you feel are the most important issues facing the town?
An important issue we face is overspending which results in increasing taxes.  We need to prioritize spending and develop a better long term spending budget.  We need to budget for capitol improvements.  Equipment needs to be replaced on a methodical, cost effective schedule.
“Another important issue I believe is lack of participation.  In a town with a population of just over 4,100 residents, if we get 100 to turn out at town meeting it’s a “good turnout.”  A 2.5 percent turnout should not be considered a “good turnout.”  People need to get involved at the local level and have a voice with what goes on in our town.”
What do you hope to accomplish as selectman?
“As Selectman I would bring a levelheaded, common sense view to our board. I would work to develop a long term fiscally responsible spending plan that is based on the needs of the town and not just spend tax payers money because we have some extra revenue. I would also work hard at informing our residents as to what we are doing and why.  If people care enough to ask legitimate questions, we should care enough to make sure they are provided with the best answer we can.
“I would also strive to bring a “one community” mentality rather than divisive, us versus them mindset. We need to be a community where people can be proud to say they work, live and play in Oxford Maine.  “
Samantha Hewey  

Hewey is a lifelong resident of the Oxford Hills who has lived in the town of Oxford for more than 12 years. She is married with three children. A full-time hospice nurse for Beacon Hospice, she provides care in patient’s homes.  She also works as an emergency room nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston.

Samantha Hewey
Why are you running for selectman?
“I am running because I have been serving the town now for over a decade in one form or another, as a coach, local health officer, or EMT and firefighter. I now am ready to take a leadership role for the town. I want to represent the people of Oxford. I bring young blood to the board, I am not a business owner and I understand how hard it is to raise a family in this day and age. I also want to encourage more people to get involved with our community, either by being on a committee, volunteering, attending the meetings and asking questions. “
 What do you do you feel are the most important issues facing the town?
“There are many important issues facing our town. Finances are always a top priority, the town needs to make sure they know exactly where every penny coming in is from and where it is going. The town needs to have forward thinking about the investments and maintenance to decrease overall cost to the town. It troubles me there is no economical development plan, especially with the TIF loan in place. Also this town needs to grow correctly, surrounding towns have seen a great growth in small businesses and I would to see that happen in Oxford. There needs to be a balance to small business, box stores, and agricultural land.
“A major goal of mine is to bring transparency, the selectman meetings should be aired on the local cable access channels. More people need to be encouraged to join committees and be involved. It is frustrating when members of the town applications are tabled by the board and no explanation is given to why. I also think that everyone should have a voice for this town if they have a concern they should feel comfortable bringing it to the board and looking for a solution. Being a nurse I also have great concerns about the health and education status of our town. I want to do everything I can to make this the best town it can be all around.”
What do you hope to accomplish as selectman?
“I hope to bring a new perspective as a selectman. I hope to work to properly utilize the capital improvement plan, the economical development plan, and to make this town transparent and approachable. This town also needs to be meticulous. The town had law suits that had the potential to cost this town a lot of money for small but important oversights. There needs to be better tracking of the towns’ finances and accounts so the data can be properly used to see where the town is doing well and where there is room for improvement. If the town plans for events such as needing new equipment, maintenance, and upgrades they no longer become a financial burden. The waste water treatment plant needs to be managed to minimize the amount of the bill the tax payers of the town are paying for the system and to minimize cost not only to new businesses that are trying to become established but the hard working families of the town.
“I was raised if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. I am dedicated to being the change and being part of the solution.”
Scott Hunter

Hunter has worked for Oxford for just short of forty years as it’s Fire and Rescue Chief as well as assisting during the winter with plowing when needed for the Highway Dept. He currently works full time for the City of Auburn as a Battalion Chief for the Fire Department, where he has been employed for 25 years. He has a background in construction, building roads, water/ sewer projects along with site development.

Scott Hunter
Why are you running for selectman?

“I’m running again for selectmen because we still have a lot of work to do to get the town in a stable budget while addressing the communities needs.

We need to make the town attractive to companies and businesses that will invest in the town and help bring good paying jobs to the area.
I live here and I have always had a great interest in seeing Oxford thrive. It’s a great community and with a proper vision it can be so much more. I have enjoyed the last three years on the board and would like to continue to serve the citizens of Oxford.”
 What do you do you feel are the most important issues facing the town?
“The town needs new businesses that will help with the tax base. We need those businesses to hook into the sewer system and ease the tax payers amount  that supports the system. The town need to do better at planning. Planning helps keep the mil rate steady. The problem is that we are facing many years of very little attention to the towns infrastructure ( building and equipment) that should have been addressed year’s ago. We have this town office that costs us way more than it should and it’s only going to get worse. We need to make a plan and work on how to get thing caught up while keeping the tax rate steady.”
What do you hope to accomplish as selectman?
“If re-elected, I want to work on making the town attractive to new business and to work on a plan to address the needs of the town and its citizens.”
James Bowden

Bowden described himself as being a “relatively new” resident of Oxford but a long time businessman in town. He has been working at, and now managing, his family store, Maine-ly Action Sports, for more than 20 years.

James Bowden
Why are you running for selectman?
“I decided to run for a position on the Oxford Board of Selectmen because I feel I have something to offer the tax payers of Oxford.  I want to see growth and success for Oxford, while maintaining responsible spending.”
 What do you do you feel are the most important issues facing the town?
” I feel that the town will need to set long term spending plans that will ensure a commitment to providing tax payers quality services, but with an affordable debt structure to keep tax increases as minimal as possible.”
What do you hope to accomplish as selectman?
” I hope as selectman that the decisions I participate in will give Oxford an economic advantage to our residents and businesses. “
Candidate Shawn Morse did not respond to the questionnaire.

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Oxford Public Safety Building on Route 26.

SAD 17 school board director Gary Smith and Water District Trustee Penelope Lowe are also on the ballot, both running uncontested for re-election to their three-year terms.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net