Getting ready to vote

Sam Smith – Fortunately the national and state candidate choices  this year are easy , so I’ve had plenty of time to try to figure out the far more overwhelming issues in my Maine town. Maine still takes democracy seriously. According to NPR, Nielsen ranks the hearby Portland media market 91st in the country. But it comes in at No. 8 in terms of campaign-ad volume, according to Kantar Media research.”

And it’s not just TV ads.You can’t leave the parking lot at Bow Street Market or approach the dead end of Mallet Drive without confronting several dozen street signs. I confess to not finding these too helpful in reaching a choice but it does remind you that democracy still matters to some.

The hardest and most important decision this year is whether we should end the consolidation of three town school districts which some feel has added to costs and hurt major decisions because of the obstinence of the two smaller adjoining towns when faced with bond issues.The other side says that any lack of progress is due to other issues and that the new plan for a separated school system won’t work. I eventually came to the conclusion that those backing withdrawal from the present consolidation have, at best, identified a problem but haven’t really come up with a comfortably reliable solution. But I didn’t take this lightly, having conferred with an auto shop owner, waitress at the Broad Arrow Tavern who knows a lot of parents, a former school principal, and an oyster fisherman, among others, all of whom were more rational and thoughtful than most of the pols and commentators I see on TV. As I told the town councilor who headed the committee that produced the deconsolidation plan, I had never before consulted a committee on whether to withdraw.

There are other issues such as a statewide referendum on ending bear baiting, another topic that in all my years of journalism I also never faced before.

Then there is the town sewer district. Living five miles from downtown and relying on a private septic system, I probably shouldn’t even be allowed to vote on the matter, but I was attracted by the comments of candidate Sally Leland as reported in the Forecaster newspaper:

If elected, she said she wants to address the recent breaks in the system’s mains. “That’s probably going to be the biggest problem going forward,” Leland said. “It’s an aging infrastructure.” She said it’s important to fix these problems before they get worse so that residents aren’t affected too much. “People don’t really think of the sewer district until it doesn’t work,” she said.

Leland said she also wants to work on educating the community about the sewer district. She said she wants to start with elementary schools and promote field trips to the sewer facility.

The contest over the sewer district was instigated by the fact that Thomas Hudak has decided to try to move on to the town water district board.  As explained in the Forecaster:

Hudak is one year into his second term on the sewer district board; this would be his first time term on the water district board. He said he wanted to run for the open seat so he could see the other side of the sewer district. “We see what’s coming out,” Hudak said. “I wanted to see where it’s coming from.”

So it’s tough voting here, but it sure is interesting.

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