MOUNT DESERT — Gordon Beck and Wendy Littlefield are vying for election to a two-year term on the Board of Selectmen in the May 1 election.
This is both candidates’ first bid for elective office. Beck was appointed to the board in January to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of Brian Reilly.
The Islander recently talked with both candidates about their reasons for running.
“If I am elected, it will be an opportunity to contribute to addressing some of the issues that face the town as we go through what is, I think, a pretty interesting time,” Beck said.
Among those issues, he said, are the dwindling of the year-round population, the lack of affordable housing and what he described as “the limitation on what Main Street [in Northeast Harbor] has to offer in terms of viable businesses.”
“It’s not as though the town [government] can potentially solve all these problems on its own,” he said. “But I think the town has a role in addressing them. There is certainly some wherewithal to set some priorities and hopefully collaborate with some outside entities.”
Prior to being appointed to the Board of Selectmen, Beck served for six years on the Warrant Committee. He is a member of the town’s Sustainability Committee and Village Planning Committee. He also serves on the executive committee of A Climate to Thrive, the islandwide energy independence initiative.
“I’ve always liked challenges and solving problems,” Beck said. “I enjoy working on committees, with the give-and-take and getting fresh ideas.”
He grew up in Canton, Mass., and graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University. He was in the process of applying to business school when ABC Sports hired him as one of many “go-fers” for its coverage of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.
“I became so enamored of live sports production that I decided I wanted to be in that business,” he said.
He worked as a sports television producer in New York for more than 25 years. From 1998-2007, he was senior vice president of sports and production and executive producer at USA Sports. He has since been a consulting producer for TV coverage of several international sporting events.
Growing up, Beck spent summers on Mount Desert Island, and he continued to be a frequent visitor before becoming a year-round resident of Northeast Harbor in 2009. He said he would bring to the Board of Selectmen the perspectives of both “a summer person and a year-round resident.”
“I’m not just some guy who worked in New York and thinks he has all the answers. I moved here because I love this place, and there’s a lot that I want to protect, but I also want things to thrive.”
“One of the lessons I learned from my father is that you really have no room to complain unless you’re getting involved,” Littlefield said.
“I have an empty nest now, so I have the time, and I want to give back a little bit to the community that I’ve gotten so much from.”
Littlefield is a native of Northeast Harbor. She attended Mount Desert Elementary School and graduated from MDI High School, as did her three children. She graduated from Hesser College in New Hampshire.
Littlefield has been the high school’s business manager for the past 14 years.
“Budgets are such a big part of the selectmen’s job, and I have a ton of accounting and school budget experience,” she said. “To me, that’s a really important piece of knowledge to have.”
She also coordinates the high school’s community service program for seniors, and she is co-president of the Sports Booster Club.
Over the years, she has served on the boards of several organizations including Acadia Community Theater, Neighborhood House and Mount Desert Nursing Association. This year, she served on the town’s Warrant Committee.
Littlefield said that in working and raising a family here, she has a deep knowledge of the community that would serve her well as a selectman.
Growing up, she worked summers in her father’s business, Haynes Garage in Northeast Harbor, and she has worked in restaurants on the island.
“I get how hard it is to live here financially,” she said.
She said she isn’t running to push a particular agenda and that she would educate herself about issues that come before the board and listen to all sides before forming an opinion.
“I think the town, particularly Northeast Harbor, is going in a great direction,” she said. “I want to make sure we don’t ever lose our identity, but that we still get to where we’re supposed to be, [such as] with technology,” she said, specifically mentioning the effort to extend broadband internet access to the entire town.
“I live right in Northeast Harbor, so I have great internet, great wireless,” she said. “So, it would be easy for me to sit back and say, ‘We don’t need this.’
“But you can’t do that. You’ve got to put yourself in the shoes of the people who live in Pretty Marsh and Hall Quarry.”