Three candidates, from left, John Sylvester, Nancy O’Connell and incumbent Glenn Dochtermann. are locked in a three-way race for a three-year term for Alfred selectman. Voting is June 11. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

ALFRED – Candidates are locked in a spirited three-way race for selectmen in the June 11 municipal election in Alfred – but most of the political rhetoric appears to be focused on one of them. Former Selectman John Sylvester, who resigned as selectman in February 2016, is looking to be elected to the board for a three-year term, as is incumbent Glenn “Doc” Dochtermann and political newcomer Nancy O’Connell.

Sylvester has been expressing his thoughts on various municipal issues over the last couple of years in a local shopping guide. In the last several weeks, some of Alfred’s municipal workers and the current Board of Selectmen have responded, in some instances quoting selectman’s board meeting minutes to make their case.

Sylvester said what he writes is his point of view. He said he doesn’t set out to include inaccuracies, and if there are any, he corrects the record  the following week.

Two town employees, Treasurer Fred Holt and Administrative Assistant Joyce Wood, have said in advertisements that they’ll give two weeks notice if Sylvester is elected.

Another employee, Code Enforcement Officer Jim Allaire, has put up signs that show the name “Sylvester” in a circle with a line through it.

The race for a three-year term on the Alfred selectmen’s board is heating up – and the focus appears to be on one of three candidates, former Selectman John Sylvester, who resigned from the board in February 2016. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

Signs bearing the word ‘Syl “yes” ter;’  installed by his daughter, Jen Ouellette, have recently appeared around town.

The public political tone is unusual in Alfred, the York County seat with a population of about 3,000. That tone spilled over, to some degree, to a candidates forum a week ago, as members of the audience, selectmen Tony Palminteri and George Donovan, and some municipal employees questioned candidates about how they’d proceed if elected.

Dochtermann, the incumbent, has served three terms as an Alfred selectman.

Sylvester served 21 years on the selectman’s board.

O’Connell is seeking her first term.

The forum, moderated by former Town Clerk Andrew Bors, was held in the sanctuary at Alfred Parish Church, and drew a full house.

Selectmen were asked their thoughts on term limits, if meetings should be televised and other matters.

All three candidates for selectmen said they favored televising meetings.

Dochtermann and O’Connell both said they favor term limits. Sylvester said his reading of information from Maine Municipal Association indicates term limits would likely not be legal absent a municipal charter – which Alfred does not have. He said if term limits were desired, perhaps the town ought to look into crafting a charter that could address that and other matters.

One audience member asked Sylvester how he felt about some employees saying they’ll leave if he is elected.

“I spent three years thinking about if I would run again,” said Sylvester, in part. “If I come in, I won’t ask anyone to leave.”

Allaire said he recalled Sylvester telling him in the 1980s, “I don’t get mad, I get even.”

“If you build a community, you don’t do it on vengeance,” said Sylvester. “I started public service in 1967. I’ve built a lot of coalitions and will seek to do the same thing if elected.”

There were questions about his February 2016 resignation – with Sylvester, Donovan and Dochtermann – who were all selectman at the time – all relating somewhat different versions of how it had come about.

The three were asked about whether the town website and other digital methods of communicating with residents, like social media, was a priority.

Dochtermann said he supports the use of the town website to keep people informed and uses email frequently. He said he checks Facebook and Twitter but doesn’t often use either.

O’Connell said she uses Facebook and has a Twitter account – but doesn’t use it. “I’m all for technology,” she said. “ It’s a great tool, and we’re not going to get away from it.”

Sylvester said he uses a computer sparingly and doesn’t know much about Facebook. He said people tell him they read his weekly commentary.

“There are a number of ways to communicate, and we need to use them,” he said.

As to their reasons for running and what they’d like to accomplish, incumbent Dochtermann said the current board has a solid working relationship with various town committees. He said the board has to work on the town’s fund balance. He said Alfred works within its budget – and plans to spend a bit more on the roads this year. “We have 43 miles of roads; one road (project) a year just won’t do it,” he said.

Working with the town’s professional staff is important, Dochtermann said, and added that  Alfred has a good relationship with other towns and with the state. He said the town administration realizes that Alfred needs more industry and has worked carefully on making zoning changes that allow multiple uses in some areas.

“We count on each other, we’re a family,” he said of the current atmosphere at Town Hall. “We need to get along and work together on things.”

Dochtermann has worked in conservation for many years, and continues to work part-time in that field.

O’Connell said she was raised in a household that emphasized the importance of voting.

“I feel like I have a bigger civic duty,” she said. “I am willing to learn and work hard. I don’t have all the answers, but will learn.”

O’Connell said she owned a janitorial business for 20 years.

She said she’d like to see a more active village center, with more shops and restaurants.

She said shes a “huge believer” in being a team player, and said she would work collaboratively with the community and town committees.

“I’d bring heart to Alfred,” O’Connell said.

Sylvester, who owns a firewood business, said he’d like to see an organization designed to bring senior citizens together and to see the town’s conservation, parks and recreation and Shaker Pond Beach committees work together to develop programs for kids, adults and the elderly. He said he’d focus on building the town’s undesignated fund. Communication is a priority, he said.

“We have to broaden the tax base, and a lot of that comes from small business,” said Sylvester.

Incumbent John Flagler is unopposed for a three-year term as an RSU 57 director. Eileen Connolly and Marta Northover are unopposed for terms as directors of Parsons Memorial Library. Greg Knight is seeking a three-year term as an Alfred Water District Trustee, and Rebecca Knight is seeking a two-year term as a water district trustee.

Town elections are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 11 at Conant Chapel, adjacent to the Town Hall on Saco Road. The annual Town Meeting at Alfred Elementary School on Sanford Road at 10 a.m. on June 15.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or [email protected]

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