PARIS — There will be more than state and national politics for Paris voters to weigh in on during the election on Tuesday, Nov. 8, as there are two selectman seats up for grabs.
There are three candidates vying for two positions on the selectboard and nomination papers were due by end of the day Monday, Sept. 26. For the six-month seat, Kathy Richardson will square off against her neighbor Bill Miller. For the year and a half seat, Rusty Brackett is running unopposed.
The six-month term became available in July after former Selectman Vic Hodgkins resigned before being appointed town manager. Remaining selectmen opted to wait until November to fill the seat.
For Richardson, it’s all about being positive in Paris.
“I would like to see the town move forward in a positive way,” she said. “Leadership can play an important part in this by showing that we value people: each other, our fellow citizens – and our employees.”
Not only can leadership play a role in this positive movement, she believes people in leadership positions have a responsibility to do so.
While she was out gathering her signatures for her nomination papers, Richardson said residents spoke with her about many things but there was always one issue that came up.
“People that I talked to are distressed because of the reputation Paris has,” she said. “They would like to see Paris move forward in a positive way. I, too, would like to.”
In addition to focusing on the positive, Richardson would like to see more work done on the town’s roads.
“There’s some roads that have been fixed and the highway crew works really hard, but the roads are not in good shape,” she said.
Richardson was a longtime teacher, as she worked as a performing arts teacher in northern Virginia and taught sixth grade language arts at Agnes Gray Elementary School in West Paris before retiring.
She worked with a peer support recovery group for nearly a decade in the Oxford Hills for adults in recovery from mental illness. She also served on a committee at the Disabilities Rights Center in Augusta.
While she hasn’t served on any town government committees or boards, Richardson has worked for historic preservation in Paris.
“There is a lot of history to preserve on Paris Hill and I have been involved in several of the organizations,” she said.
These include helping with the Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum and the Paris Hills Community Club. The latter took on maintaining and preserving Paris Hill Academy, which Richardson said was the high school until 1900.
For Miller, if elected, he has three areas he will focus on: analysis, team building and responsibility. Part of this is getting the consensus of the people, figuring out what direction the town should head in and creating a vision.
He, like some residents, is worried about the town’s “high tax rate.”
“The town needs to be financially sound. The town has certain missions it needs to do,” Miller said. “It is a matter of drawing a balance between what the town’s mission needs to be and what we need to provide to the people – the citizens of the town – what we can afford to do and kind of balance [it].”
As an accounting manager/controller with Butler Brothers, he has a financial analysis and management background, which he believes can help him as selectman.
“I think I can bring to the table some analytical mind set to some of the issues the town has been having,” Miller said. “I have a tendency to work with many different people to do some consensus building and some team building to get things done.”
He, too, wants Paris to move forward in a positive direction. He wants to bring people together so they’re “working in a positive way, finding out what the issues are and what needs to be done [and] coming up with ways to get there.”
Before becoming employed with Butler Brothers, Miller started his career in an aerospace and defense plant. He also worked in an Army program, where he gave financial advice and cost benefits analysis.
Locally, Miller was the treasurer for Hamlin Memorial Library for five or six years, was the Cub Scout master for Pack 130 and has assisted in a few Founder’s Day celebrations on Paris Hill.
The seat Brackett seeks election to will be vacated by current Selectmen Chairman Mike Risica as he moves to Florida for work in October.
Brackett became involved in town politics in the spring when some residents were calling for tax relief. He said he was approached by a member of the selectboard and other residents who encouraged him to run for selectman.
“I was very flattered. I was amazed, I said, ‘Really?’” Brackett recalled. “I gave it some thought. I am retired. I have some extra time. Why not?”
He wants to bridge the divide between residents and town officials.
“There’s so much us and them it seems. I didn’t realize how much,” Brackett said. “I heard somebody on TV say, ‘No matter how thin that slice of ham is, there is still another side.’ There’s always another side.”
Brackett thinks if everyone sat down and worked together, a lot of good could be done for the town. His lawn signs came in on Monday and the slogan he had printed reads, “Budget cuts without department cuts.”
“I am not anti-Police Department or anti-Fire Department,” he said. “They’re necessary things for a town to exist.”
Brackett said he believes the town is headed in the right direction but there is more than can be done to improve life in Paris.
He worked at Hannaford Brothers for 24 years and then spent 20 years at the Big Rig Shop in Oxford. He retired from the latter three years ago on Christmas Eve.
Brackett hasn’t served on any other board in town but has been the treasurer at his church, Oxford Hills Church of Christ, for 25 years.
“As far as experience – probably not as much as some but we have had some with a lot of experience and it hasn’t worked in that way I guess,” he said. “I would definitely be a newbie. [I’m] one of five members so it’s not all up to me for sure.”
While only three people turned in their nomination papers, there were seven who took them out, according to Town Clerk for Liz Knox. For the six-month seat, Bill Merrill took out papers and did not turn them in. For the 1.5-year seat, Michael Mayberry, Glenwood Warner and Rick Little took nomination papers and did not return them.
A candidates’ night will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Town Office, 33 Market Square.
Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8, at the Fire Station, 137 Western Ave.