Friday, March 7, 2014
SKOWHEGAN — A three-term incumbent, a school crossing guard and a former sheriff's lieutenant are vying for two open seats on the Board of Selectmen.
Incumbent Betty Austin, crossing guard Robert Holt and former sheriff's lieutenant Paul York are running for three-year terms.
Voting is scheduled for 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Town Office, the same time and place as the school district budget validation vote.
Austin, 66, is seeking a fourth term on the five-member board.
"I want to see us grow and am still really anxious to see a hotel get built and the Run of River project proceed," she said. "I'm really thrilled at how downtown has grown. I'm excited about some of the growth."
Over the years, Austin worked at local shoe shops, ran a day care center and drove a school bus before finally settling at State Farm Insurance Co., the Donald Skillings Agency, in Skowhegan, 27 years ago. She now works in sales and customer service for the agency.
She is on the Coburn Park Concert Series committee and Main Street Skowhegan's economic development committee. Austin previously served as a Chamber of Commerce board member and was a member of the town Budget Committee, the Planning Board and the Heritage Council.
Austin grew up in Skowhegan and graduated from Skowhegan Area High School before attending classes at the University of Maine at Farmington while raising two daughters. She has five grandchildren.
For Holt, 69, this is his fourth time in the race for selectman.
"I'd just like to see what's going on down there, and maybe I can help. I figured I can go down and try it and see," he said.
Holt, who is a crossing guard on North Avenue for children at Margaret Chase Smith Elementary School, has never held public office.
Holt grew up in Norridgewock and left school after the eighth grade to go to work, he said. Over the years he was employed as a welder, worked on a chicken farm, has been a crossing guard for seven years and is a newspaper carrier.
He is married and has five children and 12 grandchildren.
York, 44, who owns York's Lawn Care, served for 20 years in law enforcement.
He said town government should start looking at what is needed in the community, not just what people want. He said taxes always are a big concern, as is maintaining municipal services while keeping spending to a minimum.
He said he would bring new blood and a new perspective to the board if he is elected.
"I think everybody should get involved in the community," he said. "You really don't have a right to complain about stuff if you don't get involved, so I decided to take a stab at it and see what happens."
He worked eight years for the Skowhegan Police Department, beginning in 1990, before moving to the Somerset County Sheriff's Department. He moved up the ranks from deputy to sergeant to lieutenant before leaving the department in 2010. He said it was "time to move on."
York has two grown children and has never served in public office. He earned a degree in criminal justice at the University of Maine at Augusta.
Doug Harlow — 612-2367