Thursday, December 12, 2013
By Michael Shepherd email@example.com
State House Bureau
HALLOWELL — Two weeks and a day before the vote, a well-known real estate agent announced he’ll be running as a write-in candidate for school board against the city woman who chairs it.
Before Chris Vallee announced he was entering the race for one of two Hallowell seats on Regional School Unit 2’s board on Monday, Dawn Gallagher, the board chairwoman first elected to the Hallowell, Farmingdale, Monmouth, Dresden and Richmond board in 2008, was unopposed.
Vallee said he wants to win the race, his first bid for elective office, on his merits as a successful businessman and an energetic community volunteer.
However, his entry into the race comes at a time of political tension between Gallagher and Andrew McPherson, who was president of Team Hall-Dale, a group that solicited donations to support upgrades to Hall-Dale Elementary School. McPherson is running for City Council against George Lapointe.
Vallee said he would chart a “more positive” course than Gallagher, who lives on Union Street and works for Maine’s Office for Health Information Technology. She didn’t return phone messages or an email on Monday for this story.
The group originally hoped to raise $558,000 by June 2004, but it made its last donation to Regional School Unit 2 earlier this month, putting its total above $241,000.
Vallee said he was an early donor and solicitor of donations to Team Hall-Dale, which promised to raise additional money to pay for upgrades to the school’s gymnasium, cafeteria and library. Vallee praised McPherson’s work in raise the money he raised. Vallee said he didn’t remember how much he donated.
Gallagher publicly criticized McPherson after he kicked off his council race, decrying Hallowell’s recent estimated 8 percent property tax increase because of an increased school budget, saying McPherson could have helped reduce the tax burden over the years by making good on his pledge to raise $558,000.
When McPherson folded the group, citing “bad press” in the Kennebec Journal as a reason a recent fundraising effort couldn’t gain traction, Gallagher called that justification “just another excuse” for poor fundraising over the years.
Vallee, who lives in the same Water Street building where he operates his RE/MAX Capital office, didn’t cite rancor about Team Hall-Dale as a reason he’s running. He praised McPherson for having raised the amount he did.
He didn’t criticize Gallagher, of Union Street, directly, saying she is a “good person.”
However, referring to her comments about McPherson and Team Hall-Dale, Vallee said “it is upsetting when I read anything negative about the city that I love.”
“I’m jumping in to have a positive outlook, and I’d like to see the school board have representatives who put the kids first,” Vallee said. “I stay away from the outside drama and don’t let the outside influences sway my decisions.”
Michael Shepherd — 370-7652