Three candidates are hoping to fill the last year of Joan Gardner’s term as Bridgton selectwoman, which she vacated in March.

They are Robert McHatton, 65, currently a selectman; Douglas Taft, 64; and Wayne Warner Sr., 71, vice chairman of the School Administrative District 61 School Board.

McHatton, whose three-year term is expiring, decided to run for the one-year seat before he resigns for good after more than two decades of service on the board. McHatton said he is running to prevent a majority turnover and help new selectmen learn the job.

“It’s a good way of working with the town and helping it go in the right direction,” McHatton said.

McHatton has served on numerous committees in the past, currently serves as the board liaison to the Bridgton Recreation Advancement Group, and has volunteered as a 4-H leader and baseball coach.

“I’ve always been involved with community activities,” McHatton said, adding that he helped found the Bridgton Community Center.

McHatton moved to Bridgton in 1968 and owns McHatton’s Cleaning Service. He is married and has three children.

Among his goals are to continue to work with the recreation group and increase the economic development director position from part time to full time.

“Economic development is one of the major issues,” McHatton said, citing another issue as whether to implement a mooring ordinance and hire a harbor master. Additionally, the town has to figure out how to handle increases in the cost of gas, salt, sand and other commodities. McHatton described himself as fiscally moderate, depending on the issue.

“What’s important for any selectman is that they sit on the board and do what’s right for the town of Bridgton,” McHatton said.

Taft moved to Bridgton in 1977 to work for the Bridgton Police Department. He left the department in October and currently works for the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office as a part-time deputy and full-time school resource officer for SAD 55. Taft is unmarried, with children from a previous marriage.

This is the first time Taft has run for a town office. “I would like to see Bridgton get back into a more positive direction for the future,” he said, adding that he wants to bring the voice of the community back to the selectmen’s table.

Taft said his primary goals for office would be to implement a more defined plan and direction for the town’s growth. He said he is concerned that the town doesn’t have a plan to keep up with growing needs for public services.

“I fall into the area of being middle-of-the-road conservative,” Taft said, adding that he would work to “address the needs of the community and find ways to make the money available.”

Warner retired in 2001 from 28 years of working for SAD 72, first as a school bus driver and then as maintenance and transportation director. He still drives buses for Bennett Transportation, which provides bus service for SAD 72.

Warner moved to Bridgton in 1970 to buy the Little Mountain Store. He has lived in West Bridgton the whole time and believes the area needs a voice on the board. Warner is married and has four children and five grandchildren.

He currently serves as the vice chairman of the board for SAD 61, which he has done for the past three years, serving on the regionalization committee and acting as chairman of the personnel committee. If he were elected selectman, he would resign from the School Board, he said.

Warner has also served on the local fire department for 35 years. “I’ve been active in the town for a long time,” Warner said. “For me it’s community service.”

One of the primary issues in Bridgton is growth, Warner said, advocating for a broad, common-sense economic plan.

“It’s a matter of growth and controlled growth,” Warner said, adding, “I’m not obsessed with zoning to the point where it will limit growth.”

“I have a lot of experience in life,” Warner said about why he would make a good selectman. “I have a long history of working with budgets.”


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