Two longtime incumbents are being challenged by a school committee member for their seats on the Chebeague Island Board of Selectmen in a bid to fill two seats June 8.

Vice Chairperson Mark Dyer and member David Hill have served on the board since the island community seceded from the town of Cumberland in 2007. Jen Belesca, running for a first term on the board of selectmen, has served on the school committee since Chebeague became a separate town.

“I feel that my solid understanding of Chebeague Island’s past and its current state can help guide the community into the future,” Dyer said. His priorities include sustaining and improving community access to education, transportation, housing, healthcare and recreation “in a fiscally responsible way.” Dyer said he is proud that the town has been able to control property taxes since 2007 despite rising operational costs.

Belesca, a 10th-generation islander, said she will advocate as well for fiscal restraint while attending to issues of affordable housing, labor supply for the boatyard and access to the mainland.

Hill, who is Chebeague Island’s historian, said he has been working on a number of issues as selectman, including a project with the Army Corps of Engineers to tackle flooding of the island’s stone wharf channel. Hill is also working on improving the island’s broadband internet service through state and federal funding, as well as finding a new town office and repairing or finding a new plow truck.

When asked about the ramifications caused by the coronavirus, the candidates said they were proud of containing the pandemic and making testing and vaccinations available on the island.

“We’re working on getting back to normal,” Hill said in anticipation of the summer season, during which the island sees roughly 1,700-1,800 part-time residents, over and above the winter population of 300.

Belesca said the town needs to “continue to use common sense and to be respectful of everyone’s needs” when it comes the pandemic.

Dyer praised the town’s efforts.

“I think the town and its Community Advisory Response Team have done a good job with communication and providing personal protective equipment to individuals and non-profits to help keep us all safe,” Dyer said.

After joining the school committee when her two sons were young, Belesca said she continued to serve to see the completion of the school’s construction project in 2018. This year, she said she thought she’d “bring years of experience and decision-making skills to the board of selectmen.”

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