OXFORD — A race may develop for the Board of Selectmen/Assessor in November’s special town election.
Former Selectman and County Commissioner Caldwell Jackson and emergency room nurse Samantha Hewey have taken out nomination papers for the remaining two-year seat on the Oxford Board of Selectmen that will be vacated by former Chairman Scott Owens on Thursday, Sept. 21.
Owens announced his resignation on Aug. 17, citing time restraints. The veteran selectman was re-elected to the board in 2016 and has slightly less than two years left in his term.
Selectmen voted on Tuesday, Aug. 22, to hold a special election on Tuesday, Nov. 7, to fill the vacancy. The vote also provided notice of a shortened nomination process, as required by state statute.
The special election will coincide with this year’s state election, but provide approximately 45 days, rather than the usual 75 days, for nomination papers to be acquired, signed and returned to the town clerk’s office.
As of Tuesday morning, Aug. 29, only Jackson had returned his nomination papers. Hewey said she expected to return her papers by the end of this week. If the proper number of registered Oxford voter signatures are certified by the town clerk, the two candidates will face off on the ballot for the one seat. Residents still have until Sept. 21 to take out and return nomination papers so other candidates may emerge.
Former rivals Dana Dillingham and Mark Blaquiere, who both ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Board of Selectmen in the 2016 and 2017 annual town elections, said they will not be candidates in November’s special election.
Jackson, who currently serves as an economic development specialist in the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, said Tuesday that he is seeking a seat on the Board of Selectmen to ensure economic stability for taxpayers and economic growth overall for the town.
“I think we have to keep taxes at a minimal increase because we have a lot of people on set incomes,” he said.
One of his goals, Jackson said, will be to ensure that the tax rate remains stable for residents as the town continues to grow.
Jackson, who was a longtime selectman prior to 2006, said he will expound on his goals in his announcement of candidacy next month.
Hewey told the Advertiser Democrat this week that she hopes to open town government up to a broader and younger group of residents by running for selectman.
“I’m really excited,” she said about her run for the town’s top elected office.
Saying she hoped to encourage other young people to become involved, the 36-year-old mother of three said she hopes her candidacy will bring diversity to the board.
“I’m not a business owner. I have to work two jobs to make ends meet,” said Hewey, who works as an emergency room nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston and as a hospice nurse for Beacon Hospice.
She previously was a member of the Oxford Fire Department as an EMT and appointed as a stipended health officer for the towns of Oxford, Norway and Paris.
Hewey said she believes the selectboard should take a leadership role in making sure the town is accountable for its actions. For example, she said, the Planning Board’s recent process with the confusing issuance of a marijuana grow permit should be more accountable.
“We need to give the voice back to the people,” she said, citing the selectboard’s decision earlier this year to allow public comment only once, near the beginning of the board’s meeting agenda.
Nomination papers are still available for potential candidates. According to information from Town Clerk Beth Olsen’s office, papers need no less than 25 and not more than 100 of Oxford registered voters’ signatures. Papers are available at the Town Office and due back to the clerk’s office by Thursday, Sept. 21.