BRIDGTON — Seven candidates will vie for two three-year seats on the Board of Selectmen on July 14.

Incumbents Robert P. Murphy and George Frederick Packard face James Kidder, Bernard King, Robert McHatton, Paul Tworog and George Paul Waterhouse.

James Kidder

After 20 years as Bridgton’s Public Works director and another 22 before that in Dixfield, Kidder retired from his post last November and decided to run for the Selectboard “to keep the town moving in a positive direction.” As a long-time municipal employee, Kidder said he knows “just about everybody” and that “for 20 years, I went to every (Selectboard) meeting. I have a lot of knowledge and I hope to use that for the town.”

Among his concerns are keeping young people in town and ensuring they have affordable housing options. Kidder said he hopes to continue the work being done to improve commercial areas, including the streetscape project and broadband expansion, that will attract businesses to the area.

“Bridgton is on the rise,” Kidder said, “I would just like to serve and keep it going in a positive direction.”

Bernard King

A 32-year veteran of the Police Department, King said he believes the biggest challenge facing the town is the economy. While he said that the streetscape project will “beautify the town,” the wastewater system “is going to be a big plus (and) add more businesses, which will definitely help the economy.” Right now, he said, the septic system prevents the town from accepting more businesses.

King previously served on the Selectboard when these projects were first introduced and he said he hopes to return so he can “be more involved (in) some of the policy decisions.” He said that although he is a registered Republican and typically leans fiscally conservative, he’s willing to “spend money on a project that will benefit the town … I look at all the legal things, being a police officer for 30 years … and sometimes I just go gut feeling.”

Robert McHatton

McHatton has served on the Board of Selectmen “on and off for the last 30 years” and supported the wastewater system and streetscape projects when they were introduced. Now, he said, “I just want to get on that board and continue that and make sure all these projects are completed.”

The new sewer system will bring in more businesses, McHatton said, and the improvements along Main Street “will enhance the town … and will show that the town of Bridgton cares about its town and its visitors.” He added that maintaining the tax rate is also important so residents can afford to live in town.

When asked why people should vote for him, McHatton said that as a 50-year resident, “I just love the town of Bridgton and I just love the people that live here.”

Robert P. Murphy

Murphy, who is in his fourth year as a selectmen, said he’s “tickled pink for this town sewage (project) that we have downtown,” which he said will help bring in more small businesses.

“We won’t be like Windham, but you won’t have to go out of town for everything you need,” he said.

Murphy said another issue he hopes to tackle is marijuana, saying that “we’re still working on it … I’m not in disfavor of it. I like the way the (Selectboard is) handling it, but we have to wait for the state.” He added that he knows there are many concerns over the location of the retail storefronts.

Murphy said that while he spent much of his life in Massachusetts for work and military service, “I wish I had come back (to Bridgton) 40 years ago.” But now, Murphy said, having been back in town for about 15 years, he wants to see the projects he’s been working on to their completion.

George Frederick Packard

Packard is finishing his first three-year term on the Selectboard and before that served for 21 years on the Planning Board, 16 of which he was either chair or co-chair.

The biggest challenge facing the town now is the COVID-19 pandemic, but “that’s just nationwide and we have to do our job.”

Packard said that the town still needs to bring in more businesses, which is helped by the wastewater and streetscape projects. “Of course, we understand nobody is being helped by the virus … (it’s) been a big financial burden on them and we have to get that rolling as soon as we can and get all the help we possibly can.”

Packard said that this will likely be the last time he runs for the Selectboard and he wants to see these projects finished.

“I’ve been working with people for over 15 years on (these projects),” he said.

He said residents should vote for him because he’s been a lifelong resident of Bridgton and has “a lot of experience in (the) areas we need,” pointing to his 30 years as a certified residential appraiser in addition to his time on various boards.

“We need someone who is up to speed.”

Paul Tworog

Tworog, who most recently served on the Planning Board, said growing and keeping a strong economy is a major challenge facing the town. He said that the town, along with “really most of Maine,” has a large elderly population and that “we need to make sure we provide services to town residents that are in line with the demographics.” He added that as a tourist destination, the dependence on the summer economy brings its own set of challenges.

To deal with these issues, Tworog said, it is “key” to “preserve and expand strategically the downtown area.” Additionally, he believes that investing in recreation, especially in winter programs, and a strong broadband infrastructure “could drive opportunities to bring people to Bridgton year round.”

When asked why people should vote for him, Tworog said that he comes from the world of insurance and that he’s “done extensive work with accounting, auditing, creating budgets and managing budgets that were actually much larger than this town’s.” He said another important piece is his listening skills: “I really am going to focus on listening to all the people and working for all the people of Bridgton.”

He said he believes it’s important that the Selectboard has members with a “vision and stick to it” and that “the town has to work in the current times to focus on the current levers to preserve that past and those values and make sure Bridgton remains the great community that it is.”

Candidate George Paul Waterhouse could not be reached for an interview.

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