By Diana Bowley of the BDN Staff: DEXTER, Maine - Two incumbents and several residents who previously served on the Town Council are vying for three open seats at the Nov. 2 municipal elections.
The eight candidates seeking election are Alan Wintle, Judy Craig, Damien Pickel, Peter Haskell, Charles Merrill, Licia Goodridge, Sherman Leighton and Andre Robichaud.
Wintle, a graduate of Dexter Regional High School and the Corrections Academy at Broward Community College in Florida, has more than 20 years of law enforcement experience and is employed as a corrections officer at the Piscataquis County Sheriff's Department.
"I want to work on a council that would keep old business and attract new business," Wintle said. The Dexter native said he remembers when the town thrived, and there were no empty storefronts. He wants to help restore the vitality of the community and bring jobs for residents, he said.
"Those who know me know my integrity and honesty," Wintle said. He said he is not afraid to lead or look at a project objectively. "I believe if someone has a duty, they must answer for the good and the bad."
Craig, a sixth-generation Dexter native, operates Judy Craig Consulting. She designs websites and offers free online news at TheDailyMe.com. She serves on the Town Council and has maintained the town's website since 1997.
"I feel that I have a good grasp on the current local business climate," Craig said. She has been active in economic development efforts in the community, coordinating the Wild West Weekend, helping Tim Wilson create Maine Seeds of Training Institute and working to bring a creamery and a farmers store to the community.
"I feel Dexter has to continue to try to keep our family and Dexter traditions alive and to cultivate our many local entrepreneurs and home-based businesses," Craig said.
Pickel, who moved to Dexter in 2004, served a 20-year career in law enforcement in New York before he started his second career in 2009 with the Milo Police Department.
"I believe the issues in Dexter that present the utmost concern are the ongoing illegal drug problem which festers in our town and the lack of employment opportunities in our area," Pickel said. "Our community needs to become proactive and not just reactive to this crisis."
More drug prevention education should be taught to young people, and more action must be taken by local law enforcement and the District Attorney's Office, he said.
Pickel said he wants everyone to have a voice in how the town is governed. "I believe in being part of the solution instead of part of the problem," he said. Innovation and creativity are what stimulate change and develop solutions to current problems, he said.
Haskell, a Dexter native, worked for Dexter Shoe Co. for 16 years and at the Bangor Daily News for 29 years before retiring in 2006. He previously served on the Town Council for more than 20 years.
Haskell believes the issues facing Dexter are taxes and keeping the budget in check while still finding a way to repair the town's roads and bring jobs to the community.
"My interest is still in serving the public and working to make Dexter an affordable place to live," Haskell said.
Merrill, a fifth-generation Dexter native who was locally educated, is self-employed as a used car dealer. He has served in the real estate business, the wholesale and retail food business and operates Chip's Auto Sales.
During a stint away from Dexter, Merrill was elected a selectman in Bradley. He has served previously on the Dexter Town Council and on the SAD 46 board.
Merrill said the problems facing Dexter include the need to bring jobs to the community, lowering taxes and improving the roads. He believes his business experience and his past government service will benefit the community.
Goodridge, a Dexter native, is employed by RSU 19 in Newport.
"I believe I can assist the current council in regaining some of the attributes that help support a town government, like accountability and transparency," Goodridge said.
"I want to assist the taxpayers of the town in following a sustainable path for the future," she said. Adding business and supporting current business will bring economic opportunity, she believes. "It would be nice to find a way to support the town's needs without increasing taxes," she said.
Leighton, who has lived in the community for seven years and previously served on the council, said he is a listener who will take residents' concerns back to the council for action.
"I don't have a personal agenda with someone or something," Leighton said. He said he would work for and with the town to improve its economic status. He said residents need only look at the time he served on the council from 2007 to 2009 to confirm that.
Robichaud, a Dexter native who is retired and who now serves on the council, has been active in his community as a firefighter, ambulance attendant and police officer.
Just as other communities have, Dexter has experienced a decrease in revenue from the state at a time when expenses continue to climb, which creates difficult budget decisions, Robichaud said.
"If re-elected, I will listen to the citizens' concerns and bring these concerns before the council," Robichaud said. "I would like to see our community grow and prosper." He believes the right steps are being made now to improve the town.
David Sickles is the sole candidate for the two three-year seats available on the SAD 46 board, and Francis Kaufman is the only candidate for the two three-year positions open on the Dexter Utility District. No nomination papers were submitted for the one two-year seat on the Hospital Administrative District 4 board.
Town of Dexter Seats Open:
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