NORTH YARMOUTH — The town’s sole representative to the Yarmouth Water District Board of Trustees, a normally uncontested position, has drawn three candidates this fall in a race to fill a vacancy.

Steve Gorden, most recently re-elected to the board in 2018 for a three-year-term, moved to Yarmouth in August and created the vacancy. Andy Walsh, Dan Marks and Dan Bisson, all asked to run by other residents and unaware that other people were running, are competing to fill the remainder of Gorden’s term.

The Water District had 2,903 metered connections in Yarmouth as of last year, and 308 in North Yarmouth, according to Superintendent Bob MacKinnon. Reflecting that proportion, four trustees live in Yarmouth, and one lives in North Yarmouth.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Dan Bisson

With North Yarmouth growing its Village Center, “water infrastructure is critical in supporting those types of changes in the town,” Bisson said. “There’s a conversation that needs to be had when you’re looking at long-term investments, and take the long view of what a water utility can do to support that growth.”

Bisson would like to facilitate increased communications with the town as it makes decisions, and ensure the town’s water resources remain protected as that development occurs while understanding what the long-term impacts to the community and taxpayers will be.

Those kinds of communications have been a large part of his 26 years of board experience that is related to those issues.

“I could provide some better understanding of these issues,” Bisson said.

“Given the critical issues on the table, the need for leadership and effective communications is paramount to make good decisions regarding North Yarmouth and the water utility,” he said. “I feel that I am the best candidate to be effective in this position and help the community while serving the Yarmouth Water District as a trustee.”

Dan Marks

Marks also spoke to the need of protecting North Yarmouth’s water resources.

“I don’t think water should ever be something that’s commodified or privatized or profited from,” he said, adding that if the Water District found itself short on funds and needed to sell some of its property, “I would hate to see that get into somebody like Nestle’s hands, who could then pump our water resources and profit off of it.”

He would like the town to have a right of first refusal in order to buy property back, were such a situation to occur. Marks also wants to ensure that the relationship between the town and district is “fair and equitable on all sides.”

Marks would bring his experience as a water engineer to the table as a trustee, he said.

“I think that my youth and energy will be a good thing for the town in terms of a fresh set of eyes on things,” Marks said. “And maybe some different perspectives on what might be important considering the future of the town, and thinking about the next generation.”

Andy Walsh

Walsh expressed concern about the sustainability of what the Water District is drawing from the town’s aquifer, noting that “I don’t know if their projections for the aquifer capacity include the growth in North Yarmouth as well as Yarmouth,” but that he’d need to learn more about that.

MacKinnon said Oct. 18 that the district is well-positioned for such growth, with four “existing sources that more than meet the need and three wells in reserve if needed.”

Walsh’s other concern is that when the Water District purchases a property in North Yarmouth on which to place a well, that property is removed from the tax rolls.

“Everyone else in the town winds up paying for the lost revenue taxes, and we really don’t get anything back from the Water District for it,” Walsh said, pointing out that the district serves only about 15% of residents. “… I’d like to try and figure out something that the Water District can do for the town that would offset the fact that it’s pulling water out from under our town and taking land off the tax rolls. It’s kind of a lose-lose for North Yarmouth.”

Walsh noted his experience with the budget process, and the managerial decisions he’s made in his life as a business owner.

“I’d like to think I’m open-minded, willing to consider both sides of an issue,” he said.

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