Longtime Bowdoinham resident Deborah Smith is challenging incumbent Thomas Walling for a seat on the Bowdoinham Select Board.

Walling, who first joined the board six years ago, will be running for his third three-year term.

Thomas Walling, who first joined the select board six years ago, will be running for his third three-year term this year. Courtesy of Thomas Walling.

Walling said he wants to remain on the board because he wants to see through several development efforts that have started in town.

“I want to see the redevelopment of waterfront project and the town office, and I also want to see the town hall restored. I want to be on the board to help that happen,” said Walling.

Walling said he finds it a privilege to work with the government and help move things forward. He added that he wants to see Bowdoinham continue to grow, but slow pace.

“I would like to see us develop our economy along environmental lines and outdoor recreation. I think that is where the future of Bowdoinham is,” said Walling. “I don’t want to see us trying to compete with either Richmond or Topsham for commercial development, and I certainly don’t want to see us encourage industrial development.”

Walling said he is looking forward to the completion of the new waterfront project and creating Merrymeeting rail-trail walking and bike paths that connect villages of Topsham, Bowdoinham, Richmond and Gardiner.

His top priorities are to improve the town’s infrastructure, make people feel that this is their town and get them involved in town activities.

Walling, 76, said that though he enjoys being a board member, this will be the last time that he will be running.

“I’m not getting any younger. It is a major commitment of time and energy to be on the board. I am feeling good enough to do it now, but I am not sure after three years if I am going to be still interested in contesting, so I will probably let it go after this,” said Walling.

Deborah Smith, Bowdoinham Select Board candidate.  Courtesy of Deborah Smith

Smith, who has been living in the town for the past 20 years, said three things that motivated her to contest for the select board this year.

Firstly, she wants the town’s recycling program to go back to the Recycling Barn, where the solid waste and recycling program was being operated for three decades before it was vacated due to structural issues last fall.

“I want the town to invest in that facility and just bring it back the way it was, or even better,” said Smith. “The town is spending money to conduct studies on where to build a new building for the recycling program. I don’t think this little community might be able to afford a new building, and I am worried about that.”

Secondly, she wants to support local farmers and become more involved with them. Finally, she wants to help younger families buy houses in Bowdoinham.

“Sagadahoc County is becoming popular among the younger folks. I would like to see ways that maybe our little town can look into helping them buy a home here, grow this little town with younger folks,” said Smith.

One of the issues she expects to face in the coming months is the town budget related to taxes.

“Our taxes did go up a little bit this year. People that I have talked with are concerned that their taxes are creeping up. For the town to do anything, it will cost more money; that is why I want the recycling program to go back to the barn as constructing a new building for the recycling program would cost quite a bit,” said Smith.

She said her priorities would include listening to people to find out their concerns in the town.

“A lot of times folks don’t attend select board meetings, and they will have issues with how the town is being run. I want to be more of a someone that would have small meetings with the community so that I can take their concerns back to the board,” said Smith.

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