WINDHAM — Two citizens are spearheading a movement to work towards unity and community engagement as the town nears an upcoming municipal election.

Move Windham Forward, which is non-partisan, aims to get residents involved in municipal processes and ensure that their voices are heard. The group was formed at the end of August because co-founders Jonathan Priest and Maggie Terry felt that it was important to get the community engaged and to create more transparency in local government.

Terry is the chair of the town’s Retail Adult-Use and Medical Marijuana Establishments Task Force, and Priest is a board member on the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and the head of the Ambassador Committee.

Priest said much of their work is educational, as residents don’t know how to approach those in government roles, nor do they understand how those roles work: “If we could just demystify this thing, it’s going to lead to more positive engagement because people will feel like they have a choice and a voice.”

Move Windham Forward is focused on six key issues, which Priest says are “the concerns that everybody is sharing”: the Town Council, unity, taxes, the environment, growth and infrastructure.

Terry said the group plans to post videos on its website about topics such as how to speak at a Town Council meeting and how the Planning Board works.

In addition, the group recently hosted a Meet the Candidates event so that residents could meet those who are running for Town Council.

The key is finding out what each candidate’s about,” Priest said. 

There will be another Meet the Candidates event on Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Microtel, 965 Roosevelt Trail.

The Town Council “seems to be stuck in a rut,” Terry said, and Priest agrees.

The councilors “come to the meeting and sit on the council and don’t do research, they don’t learn. There’s this cycle of disinformation, misinformation, noninformation. And then they’re making decisions that impact everyone in this town,” he said. 

Terry alluded to “bickering and name calling” on the council, saying, “You don’t move forward if you’re going to fight with one another.”

Move Windham Forward encourages residents to inform themselves about the candidates who are running for the council and to vote in the upcoming election on Nov. 5.

The group is building its website and Facebook page, which it will use to engage residents, and has a handful of volunteers helping out.

In the future, Terry said, she hopes to form subcommittees to address specific issues in town.

The group is also accepting monetary donations in order to pay for space rentals for events, audio/visual equipment and advertisements.

My intent in the long run is the betterment of the community,” Terry said. While she acknowledged that she is unsure whether or not the group will be successful, she said she knows that “nothing doesn’t work.” 

Move Windham Forward hopes that with community input and involvement, the town can finally work towards solving some of the issues that have long plagued it.

“Our point is to come back with some sort of solutions,” Terry said. 

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