TOPSHAM — This year’s Board of Selectmen election has three candidates for two seats.
Two incumbents, James Trusiani and Ronald Riendeau, both of Main Street, are being challenged by David Douglass Jr. of Foreside Road.
Douglass, 38, is married and has two children, and has lived in Topsham for 10 years. He was a firefighter-emergency medical technician with the Brunswick Fire Department from 1996-2006, a captain with the Topsham Fire Department from 1998-2004, and has worked in sales and marketing with the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. since 2006.
Douglass joined the Topsham Finance Committee in 2002; he has chaired it for the past two years. If elected to the Board of Selectmen he will have to step down from the Finance Committee.
Running for the board is “something I’ve actually wanted to do for a long time,” Douglass said, noting that he now has time to serve.
He said he is a big fan of Topsham’s Town Meeting form of government, “where I know I get to go raise my little piece of paper, right, wrong or indifferent, and I get to have a say, and I love that.”
Faced with revenue losses, the town should take a more focused look at economic and community development, Douglass said, noting that “there are challenges that need to be met, and I think a new perspective on those challenges (would be good).”
Although Topsham is funding a director of economic and community development, he said “we don’t leave him enough (of a) piece of the pie to go off and do his job, with all the tools he needs.”
He noted that the town has businesses that have survived the tough economic climate, and “is there something we can do to help them, and give the director of economic development some tools to go help them? I’d take the golden egg if we could get it, but I honestly think it’s going to take a little digging and working with what we have, and build them up.”
A focus should also be on the roads in town in serious need of repair, Douglass said.
Riendeau, 75, is married and has two sons and one grandchild. He was born on Walnut Street in Topsham and has lived in the town almost his entire life. He and his wife have run Riendeau Auction Service for 30 years.
Riendeau, who has served most of four terms on the Board of Selectmen and is its current chairman, worked for the Police Department for about 20 years and from 1964 to 1978 was police chief. Prior to that he was in the U.S. Army from 1959-1961.
He said he is seeking re-election because he enjoys serving on the board and has the time and health. “I still have a lot to give,” he said.
The biggest issue Topsham and other towns face is trying to maintain an affordable tax rate, Riendeau said, noting that “that’s always been my goal, each term I’ve served.”
Economic growth in town has been slow, he said, noting that the economy has played a hand in that.
Riendeau served on a Community Development Block Grant committee that sought funds to beautify Main Street, and he has also been a member of the Brunswick Rotary Club and the Cumberland County Law Enforcement Association.
“I know the town, I know the town’s history,” Riendeau said. “… I’ve always tried to be fair. … Before I vote (on a matter), I look at it and (think), ‘what is better for the townspeople?’ I don’t think I’ve ever voted because of my personal feelings, and I don’t plan to in the future.”
Trusiani, 51, has lived in Topsham nearly all his life. He is an equipment operator with Harry C. Crooker & Sons and has served three terms on the Board of Selectmen.
“I think I owe it to the people that still support me to continue to run,” he said.
Loss of revenue from the state is one of the key issues facing Topsham, Trusiani said. He said the town is not receiving the amount of money it is supposed to for services it performs that used to be done by state, such as plowing certain roads.
Other issues are getting more people to volunteer for the town’s fire and emergency medical services, Trusiani said, and making the town more inviting to businesses to broaden the tax base.
He also noted that in recent years the Board of Selectmen has done a better job of explaining budget expenses and revenues, and what can actually be controlled on the town side.
Trusiani’s service includes time on a committee investigating a consolidation between School Administrative District 75 and the Lisbon school district, as well as on the Sagadahoc County Budget Advisory Committee, which he has chaired for three years.
“From the day I’ve been elected I’ve been one not (to) just sit there and not question things,” he said. “I think people now respect the fact (that) ‘oh, he voted for that. He must have done his homework; that must be OK.'”
Trusiani added that “I’m not afraid to stick my neck out there and say what I want. … I don’t think people can say I’m a rubber stamper. And I think that’s the quality that people need, somebody that’s going to speak up for them.”
The League of Women Voters is planning a candidates forum for Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.
David Douglass Jr.