Campbell, Brown vie for SAD 51 seat in Cumberland

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CUMBERLAND — Two newcomers will face off for one School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors seat June 9, while three incumbents are running unopposed for the Town Council.

Karen Campbell and Michael Brown each said they were motivated to run for the SAD 51 board when, just days before the nomination deadline, they heard no one had filed papers for the seat being vacated by Tom Shepard.

In the Town Council election, Councilors Ron Copp, George Turner, and Shirley Storey-King are seeking re-election.

Karen Campbell

Campbell, 47, of Stonewall Drive, is a stay-at-home mom with three children in the district, ranging from fifth to 11th grade. With a master’s degree in business administration and experience in corporate for-profit and non-profit organizations, she said she’s a good listener and communicator with a financial background and experience with budgets and reaching compromises.

If elected, Campbell said her ability to look at and balance numbers would be integral to her primary goal of finding a balance between maintaining a high-performing district and keeping down the costs associated with running the district.

“There are already a lot of initiatives underway that I support,” she said, mentioning the possible closure of Drowne Road School and the possibility of using that building as a revenue source.

Revenue-generating ideas, she said, will be important in the upcoming budget year, along with finding ways to maintain costs such as “sharing services and supplies between schools, smart planning for the future,” and continuing efforts toward energy efficiency.

During this year’s budget process, Campbell pushed to reverse School Board-proposed staffing changes that would have led to increased class sizes for sixth-graders.  In a public hearing this week, Campbell said she voted for the flat, $28 million budget that was defeated by a tie vote last week, but said she also would have supported a slight increase in order to maintain a few more jobs.

Michael Brown

Brown, 33, of Mill Road, has two children, a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old who will begin kindergarten in the school district in September. He said he was drawn to the town because of the community and the reputation of the schools, and that he decided to run for the SAD 51 board because becoming “as steward of that reputation struck me as a good opportunity.”

A former Bowdoin College employee currently working for the state Department of Health and Human Services, Brown said his experience in education and government would benefit the board, since “they operate in unique ways, and if you’re confident within those systems, that can only help.”

Brown also has municipal government experience; he is vice chairman of the town’s Shellfish Conservation Commission.

Like his opponent, Brown said that addressing next year’s budget is going to be a major issue for the School Board as it moves past the June municipal election and school budget votes.

He said he has no agenda in terms of the dollar figures, but that the process itself needs to be improved.

“I’m more invested in the process than the outcome,” he said. “The way budget information goes out, it’s difficult (for the public) to follow.”

In this economy, forced to face tough choices, he said its more important than ever to focus on public dialogs around those choices, bringing in all stakeholders to try to find creative solutions and common ground.

Polls will be open June 9 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Town Hall. Absentee ballots are available at Town Hall or by contacting the town clerk’s office.

Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or