TREMONT — Voters at the annual town elections Monday will weigh in on contracting with neighboring Southwest Harbor for law enforcement and elect eight town officials, including two members of the Board of Selectmen.
Polls are open May 8 from 1-8 p.m. in the town office meeting room.
A citizen petition put the law enforcement question on the ballot. The article asks if selectmen should negotiate and enter into a three-year contract with Southwest Harbor for “law enforcement services including criminal law, civil infractions, town ordinances and animal control services” beginning Jan. 1, 2018. Costs are not to exceed $105,000 for the first year, $108,000 the second and $111,000 for the third.
The town currently contracts with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office for up to 30 hours of exclusive coverage each week at a rate of $60 per hour.
Howard “Howdy” Goodwin, Scott Grierson and McKenzie Jewett are vying for two three-year seats on the Board of Selectmen.
Three seats on the School Committee also are up for grabs, one of which will be filled by a write-in candidate. Amy Rich is unopposed in her bid for a three-year seat, as is incumbent Jennifer Horner in her run for a one-year position.
Three high school trustees will be elected. Incumbent David “Jed” Campbell is running for a three-year term. Amy Harper and Keri Hayes, who both recently were appointed to fill vacant seats, are running for two-year and one-year seats, respectively.
Howard “Howdy” Goodwin is running for town office for the first time. He owns John Goodwin Inc. in Southwest Harbor, a concrete and masonry contracting firm.
Goodwin said he decided to run in order to get more involved in the operation of the town. His interest in town politics began when he was young.
“As a kid, I’d go with my father to town meetings,” he said. “I loved that stuff.”
He was encouraged to take out nomination papers.
“People said I would be a good candidate,” he said.
Goodwin said he has no list of things he would like to change if elected and is taking a wait-and-see approach.
“I’ll wait until I get in there and see how things run,” he said.
Goodwin said he would prefer the town stay with the law enforcement contract with the sheriff’s department.
“I think Hancock County has done a good job,” he said. “I think we can save some money, and Southwest is there if there’s an emergency.”
School consolidation should not be considered, he said.
“Keep the school small, and you’ll learn more,” he explained.
As selectman, Goodwin said he would work to encourage small business growth in the town.
Scott Grierson was a member of the Board of Selectmen from 2002 to 2008, serving three years as chairman. A property manager, he said he decided to run again to serve the town.
“I was ready for another round of community service in politics,” he said.
Grierson said he has concerns about how the town office has been running. For almost a year, the town was unable to issue new license plates due to issues discovered by the state. Earlier this year, the town’s new assessor began looking into files that were either missing or had not been updated, he explained.
“It’s fairly obvious we have some problems at the town office,” Grierson said. It’s the job of the selectmen to ensure everything is going smoothly. “The buck stops at the selectmen.”
Grierson, along with Marc Fink, began the police petition and collected the signatures to get the question on the ballot. As such, he is a proponent of contracting with Southwest Harbor.
“To me, it’s all about quick response times, local dispatch service and community policing,” he said.
Grierson said he would like to get more residents to participate on boards and committees.
“A thriving local government has to depend on community involvement,” he said. “It’s up to the selectmen to encourage community participation.”
If elected, Grierson said he would be “thoughtful and responsible.”
“I base my opinions on the evidence presented and not on whether the issue involves a friend or someone I work with,” he said.
McKenzie Jewett is making her first bid for town office. She and her husband, Tadd, own T.M. Jewett Plumbing and Electrical. She also is employed part time at the Moorings Inn in Southwest Harbor.
Jewett is a former Tremont town clerk and worked in that position for 15 years. The experience, she said, would serve her well on the Board of Selectmen.
“I think I have a different perspective,” she said. “From working in the town office, I can see both sides.”
Jewett said she had been thinking about running and made her decision after returning from vacation earlier this year to find phone messages from acquaintances urging her to run.
“I don’t have an agenda, and I think that’s important,” Jewett said. It is important to keep an open mind, she added.
On the police issue, Jewett said the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office has been doing a good job, but she believes the town would be best served by contracting with Southwest Harbor because of the response time and unpredictability of when that department’s officers would patrol Tremont.
“I think we need to take a hard look at the school,” Jewett said, referring to discussions about cutting costs in the Mount Desert Island school system. “I’m not opposed to some sort of consolidation at this point.”
If the Tremont Consolidated School should close, it would be difficult to attract families to move into the community, she added.
Jewett added that she would work to promote business growth.