TOPSHAM — In order to secure re-election to the Board of Selectmen, incumbents Bill Thompson and Marie Brillant must fend off a challenge from Matt Nixon, a newcomer to local elected office.

Brillant was elected in 2010, Thompson in 2013. Nixon has served on the town’s Conservation and Historic District commissions and the Comprehensive Plan Update Committee.

Brillant

Brillant said she is running again because she enjoys the board experience, and is “really pleased … with how we’re taking care of the town.”

“I’d really love to figure out a way to lower the taxes,” she said. “I have two daughters that live in this town, and it’s a struggle for them to pay their taxes.”

Topsham’s tax rate for the current fiscal year is $19.15 per $1,000 of property valuation. It was estimated to rise from last year’s $18.73 level to $20.31, but a market adjustment to values brought the rate down to $19.15, according to Town Assessor Justin Hennessey.

Brillant, who was a dairy farmer for 16 years and has lived in Topsham since 2003, said she’s valuable to the board for her ability to “listen to the facts, and hopefully (make) good decisions.”

Nixon

Nixon, who’s spent 11 years in Topsham, has no major qualms with its selectmen as it stands, but “I just feel like we’ve been dragging our feet for a while with regards to things that the town could do to make the environment better,” the solar energy advocate said.

The board recently gave Nixon and other members of Topsham Solar Advocates permission to seek solar energy purchasing prices for the town; he would like to see a municipal solar farm installed at Topsham’s transfer station.

Nixon pointed out that other communities are pursuing solar energy not just for environmental reasons, “but it saves a heck of a lot of money, too.”

He would like to see a recent state environmental study on which parts of Topsham could be affected by sea level rising and climate change, to be used “as a basis for some of our town planner’s decisions.”

Nixon, a proponent of public waterfront access for the town, said he brings “a 100% new perspective,” and would help in “translating the younger demographic’s perspective in municipal business.”

Thompson

A Topsham resident since 2001 who was born in raised in New Jersey, Thompson said he was bolstered by lifelong residents and town staff who asked him to run again, calling it “as good an endorsement as you can get.”

He’s not eyeing any particular changes or improvements if re-elected, but wants to continue progress made in the last couple of years. “Things like a 25-year capital improvement plan … which allows us to plan ahead for buying police cars, ambulances, plow trucks, without having to bond or take out a loan,” Thompson said. “We’re not paying debt, and for the last couple of years, any savings that we haven’t paid in debt, we’ve put that back into roads, and things of that nature.”

This would likely be his final term, Thompson said, adding that he brings experience to the board, and is well-versed in how municipal government works. He also pointed out that it can take a year for someone new to the board to get up to speed, “but I don’t have any learning curve anymore; I can just continue down that road.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.