SACO — Voters will elect Saco School Board members in Wards 1, 3, 5 and 7 on Nov. 2. Just two of the seats will see a contest.

As well, all the candidates for Saco City Council — Marshall Archer in Ward 1, Joseph Gunn in Ward 3, and Jodi MacPhail in Ward 6 — are unopposed in their bids for re-election.

For Saco School Board, candidates Ethan Alcorn and Arthur Archie are vying to represent Ward 1, an open seat. The ward is currently represented by Anthony Palleschi, appointed to fill a short-term vacancy following the resignation in September of member Christina Shea.

William Gayle and Kerry Grover will vie for the Ward 5 seat. The ward is  currently represented by Charles Massie Jr., appointed to fill a short-term vacancy following the resignation, for medical reasons, of Arthur Tardif.

Incumbent School Board member Jeff Richard is unopposed in Ward 3, as is Elizabeth Johnston in Ward 7.

We asked candidates in contested races about their backgrounds, why they think they are the best candidate for the job and what they see as the foremost issue facing Saco Schools.

WARD 1

Ethan Alcorn

Alcorn, in the race for Ward 1, has lived in Saco for more than 20 years and his three children graduated from Saco schools. He owns a landscape business, but has a broad background that includes payroll, advertising, quality control and more.

“I worked as an educator at a non-profit and understand what teachers need, but also know how to sharpen the pencil on spending issues,” said Alcorn, 57. He said he can be a respectful team player but isn’t shy about speaking up or bringing ideas to the table.

“Our biggest issue in Saco, in my opinion, is taxes,” said Alcorn. “The school budget is so big, and taxes keep going up. I think of the seniors and fixed-incomers and wonder how long they can hold on … it’s just not fair. But you can’t short-change the schools either. I look forward to “looking under the hood” and seeing what can be accomplished while abiding by the rules and being a team player on the board. These are challenging times, but we need to have common sense and give back to the taxpayers, while we educate the kids and provide safe, healthy and exemplary schools.”

Arthur Archie

Archie, 30, has a partner with whom he has a son and a daughter on the way. He has been a Saco resident since 2015, owns his own landscaping company and is a truck driver.

He said he is a people person who is willing to listen.

“I believe it is important for a strong voiced representative with a commonsense approach to voice the ideas of the parents and taxpayers of our town, and that is what I plan to do,” said Archie.

Better transparency and hiring and maintaining staff are the foremost issues facing the school district, Archie said.

“My goal is to ensure the retention of our great staff and help attract the right candidates that will help support the needs of the parents and students,” he said. ” It is also imperative to find and maintain a well-rounded transportation crew.”

WARD 5

William Gayle

Gayle, 37, is a grant and policy administrator for the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority. Married, he has two children, and is a one-year Saco resident. He enjoys outdoor pursuits  and serves on the city’s Traffic Safety Committee.

Gayle said he has worked on projects ranging from overseeing a mentoring program introducing engineering principles to inner city school children, to securing a $16 million dollar grant for the Downeaster.

Gayle said h  has three priorities: maintaining  safety of students, teachers, staff, and families throughout the school year; applying his knowledge of budget development to uphold a responsible, sustainable school budget; and improve communication by bringing understanding of the School Board’s work to residents in easy-to-use formats.

He said safety is the foremost issue. “While the implementation of the ‘Back to 5 Plan’ has succeeded in providing in-person instruction to start the school year, we need to continue to be ready to adjust to circumstances if they change,” he said. “It is imperative we communicate effectively and in close collaboration with parents and the community. Ensuring that the school department has what it needs to be able to proactively and reactively address the challenges ahead will require effective and collaborative decision making with parents, residents, and the City Council.”

Kerry Grover

Grover, 39, moved to Saco with her husband and three children in 2012. She has previously coordinated political campaigns and is now the New England administrative coordinator for a telecommunications company. She enjoys outdoor pursuits, keeping up with her children’s activities, and helps plan the Saco Pumpkin Harvest Festival.

“My life and career experiences have allowed me to develop the necessary skills to pivot and change course in an instant,” she said. “As we know from the pandemic, this is something the schools and board need to be prepared for. It is important to anticipate the unexpected. I have always been empowered to think creatively, question processes and procedures, and provide feedback and new solutions”

If elected, her efforts would focus on serving all children in the community, she said.

” A school board member must build public understanding, support, and participation,” said Grover. “The board must be responsive and receptive to parents, staff, students, and the community at large. By working together, we can all share in the knowledge and satisfaction that we have provided for the educational needs of each child, and have built a district where students, parents, teachers, and staff feel they are valued, welcome, and that they belong.”

Absentee ballots are available now. Voting on Nov. 2 will be 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Saco Community Center, 75 Franklin St.

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