New Gloucester voters will elect three selectmen out of seven candidates on the June 8 ballot.

Candidates for two open three-year term seats are incumbent Karen Gilles, Stephen Hathorne and Paul Larrivee.

Voters will fill one open seat for a one-year term. Incumbent Linda Chase opted not to run for her current seat but for the vacant seat formerly held by George Colby, who resigned earlier this year shortly after a recall petition received enough signatures to go to a vote. Chase faces Scott Doyle, Brian Shedlarski and Dustin Ward in the race to serve the remainder of Colby’s term until 2022.

THREE-YEAR TERM

Karen Gilles

Gilles, hoping to serve a second, three-year term on the select board, said her focus is in “balancing the needs and wants of the townspeople with maintaining fiscal responsibility.”

Since members of the board elected Gilles chairperson last summer, she has overseen a tumultuous budgetary season for New Gloucester, including two “no” votes on the library budget that forced the town to shut its doors for six months and led to the departure of two longtime librarians.

“Within the last three years, I have shown my ability to work well with others, listen to everyone, argue problems not people, all while representing all residents in New Gloucester,” she said.

“I do not have a specific need or want to serve on the board other than to serve my town and keep New Gloucester a good place to work, affordable place to live, and a beautiful place to visit and do business,” Gilles said.

Stephen Hathorne

The former select board member called himself a “proud townie” with a strong connection to New Gloucester, which is why he said he’s “extremely embarrassed” by how the town is portrayed in local news coverage and that he’s found it “extremely difficult to find even a reasonable amount of hope in our town government.”

Hathorne said a vote for him is a vote for change: “There is no room in New Gloucester for racism, leaders that do not obey state law or personal partisan agenda.”

New Gloucester’s best interests must come first, not partisan issues, he said.

One of the greatest roadblocks to the town’s success is itself, he said, and the “status quo” puts the town on an unsustainable path forward. Instead, the town needs to attract businesses that will “provide substantial growth to the tax base,” he said.

“We need to attract business to provide substantial growth to the tax base. No one wants to come to New Gloucester when we continue to be in such disarray.”

If elected, Hathorne said he anticipates “hitting the ground running and working with other newly elected officials.”

Paul Larrivee

Larrivee said that he will bring a new perspective to the Board of Selectmen as a hard-working team player who does his “research and homework.”

Among New Gloucester’s greatest challenges right now are the increased cost of services and rising cost of living, he said.

It’s time for the board to look at ways to reduce town costs other than raising property taxes, which impacts all citizens but especially “our elderly and most vulnerable,” he said.

“Examining opportunities to work with neighboring communities to consolidate services should be a priority,” along with ensuring that the town is small business-friendly and also “encourages investment and increases revenue,” he said.

Another challenge for the town is staff turnover. In the last year, two librarians, the fire chief, recreation director, town planner and town manager have left their positions. The board recently hired a new town manager.

Solid leadership from the select board and the manager will lend itself to higher staff morale, Larrivee said.

“I enjoy working with people and solving issues by finding common ground,” he said. “I believe this community is capable of great things with strong leadership that represents the will of the citizens.”

ONE-YEAR TERM

Linda Chase

Chase said she brings to the table her “historical knowledge” of New Gloucester from her years of experience “serving our community.”

Chase has served on the select board for 14 years and “has worked hard to be fiscally responsible,” updating town policies and listening to all, she said. She is currently vice-chairperson.

She wants to be a part of “moving New Gloucester ahead” while maintaining its “hometown character,” she said.

Chase said that the town needs to improve communication, increase community outreach and “reunite New Gloucester.”

“Communication remains a big challenge for our town,” as the shift to the digital world has complicated things, she said.

“Lack of communication, false information and the toxic political environment has left our community divided.”

Scott Doyle

The former New Gloucester Fire/Rescue captain said that he was motivated to run for select board by the “extreme need” for change in town.

Doyle said that he would like to see increased transparency from board members, which he says has been lacking for a number of years, and a move away from partisan politics.

“I have no political affiliation and will stand to represent the people of our town,” he said, noting that partisanship benefits no one.

Doyle added that “sensible spending” has also been a challenge for the town over the last several years. To tackle this, he suggested a cost analysis of all town departments. He also said that town buildings and ground maintenance has been poor, despite these being budgeted items, but that’s “just the tip of the iceberg.”

Strong leadership will bring strong community involvement, Doyle said, and change starts at the top.

“I would like to be part of the change and team to make this happen.”

Brian Shedlarski

Political newcomer Shedlarski said he would bring his sense of fiscal responsibility, ethics and nonpartisanship from his experience as a small business owner and Realtor to the select board.

He loves being involved with the community and said it’s important to him that he makes a positive impact on the town in which he lives.

Shedlarski said employee turnover, Upper Village development and conservation and development are at the top of his list of priorities. He suggested taking stock of the working environment for town employees and town hiring practices to address the former.

For the latter two, Shedlarski said it’s important that the town stay on track with the Upper Village Master Plan and “manage conservation and development to maintain New Gloucester’s rural character by reviewing the Transfer of Development Rights Program.”

As an elected official, he said that he will be “approachable, open and most importantly, I will listen to the issues that are important to you.”

Dustin Ward

Ward said he hopes to move New Gloucester “forward in reconciliation” from difficult issues that have affected the town in recent years. Key to that will be improved transparency and communication from the town.

From available town records, it appears that Ward would be the first Black person to be elected to Board of Selectmen.

He said that the town needs to clarify its goals and visions for the future and that the lack of clarity is the root cause of some of its greatest challenges. Ward said that infrastructure is among those top challenges, especially the town’s road paving schedule.

Plus, “we face the challenge of knowing how to implement our Comprehensive Plan as a guide for future growth and endeavors,” he said.

If elected, Ward said he will bring community members’ voices “to the forefront in all conversations and decisions” and that he will set a “clear and positive vision” for New Gloucester’s future and work to educate community members on how to get involved.

“I will look to consistently be connected, open and honest with the people of New Gloucester,” Ward said.

Voting will take place June 8 at the New Gloucester Fire/Rescue station at 611 Lewiston Road. The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, visit the town’s website at newgloucester.com.

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