Election 2015: Challenger takes on Freeport council chairwoman

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FREEPORT — Two candidates are on the ballot for councilor at-large in the Nov. 3 election, and there is at least one write-in council candidate in District 4.

Town Council Chairwoman Melanie Sachs is seeking re-election to the at-large seat. Doreen Christ is also running for the seat, which has a three-year term.

There are no candidates on the ballot in District 4, but Jennifer Worthy has confirmed she is running as a write-in candidate. Town Clerk Christine Wolfe said Leland Arris is considering running a write-in campaign, but Arris could not be reached to confirm his candidacy.

Wolfe said write-in candidates don’t have to notify the town about their campaigns; the candidate who receives the most write-in votes will be offered the position.

Melanie Sachs

Sachs, who has been chairwoman of the council for the past year, is seeking her second term. She is the executive director of Freeport Community Services and has lived in town for eight years.

“I enjoy the work,” Sachs said of the council. “I love connecting with people on issues. I find it’s a good way to serve the community.”

Sachs said she particularly enjoys working on the budget each year and “digging into details.” She said one of the things she has accomplished since being on the council is making sure councilors have all the data needed before making decisions.

“Constituents have responded very positively to this approach,” she said. “While they may not always agree (with decisions), they’ll always know how I got there.”

Sachs said it’s important for the Town Council’s business to be open and accessible.

“I’d say what I’ve brought to the council is transparency around issues,” she said.

Sachs said she’s helped the council do this not only with residents, but with other boards, too.

“We’ve worked really hard with the (Regional School Unit 5 Board of Directors) over the past year for transparency and dialogue,” she said.

Sachs said the past year was the first time the council and the RSU 5 board worked together when creating the budget. She said it’s a good practice because it’s “important to foster relationships.”

If re-elected, Sachs said she’s looking forward to hearing what the Ordinance Committee will recommend to the council regarding a plastic bag ban or fee. The issue first came up in July 2014 after it was recommended by two local high school students.

“Whether it’s fees on (paper and plastic), a certain width of plastic (being banned), whatever they happen to do, they’ll have a reason behind it and facts and analyses for their decision,” Sachs said, adding that she wants to see all of the facts before forming her own opinion.

Sachs said with her experience on the council and the knowledge she’s gained about the town from working at Freeport Community Services, she hopes residents will re-elect her.

“I have experience, compassion and a record of service to the community (voters) can consider,” she said.

Doreen Christ

Christ, who is seeking her first elected office in Freeport, has lived in town since October 2014. She moved from Lewiston, where she was a city councilor from 2012-2014.

“I’ve always wanted to live in Freeport, and now that I live here I want to do my part,” she said. “I want to give back to the community.”

While on the Lewiston City Council, Christ was on the finance committee and on the taxi appeals board. She also worked for the city for 10 years. She now works for the city of Portland as an assistant in the inspections office. She also works as the recording secretary for the town of Monmouth, seasonally at L.L. Bean, and part time at Shaw’s supermarket.

Christ said she knows how small towns like Freeport work because she takes minutes for the Monmouth Board of Selectmen. She said despite being new in town, she’s qualified for the council.

Christ said the ward she represented in Lewiston is almost as big as Freeport.

“It’s not like I’m new to it,” she said. “I’ve done this before. I served on the Lewiston council, and (Freeport is) not nearly as busy.”

Christ said she’s not aware of what the Freeport council has been working on, but wants to learn.

“If I get on (the council), then I’ll know more about the issues,” she said.

As for a plastic bag ban or fee, she said she’s opposed to implementing anything.

“It’s a small town; I don’t think they need to do it here,” Christ said. “I wouldn’t push for that.”

“I’d push for what I think would benefit the people of Freeport,” she added.

Christ said it’s important to have “open lines of communication,” not only between councilors and residents, but between councilors and other boards and committees in town.

“People who know me know I’m a hard worker,” she said. “I work for people.”

Jennifer Worthy

Worthy is running as write-in candidate after taking out papers to be on the ballot, but not returning them in time because of work commitments.

Worthy, who has lived in Freeport for two years, is the director of patient financial services at Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick. If elected to the council, it would be her first public office.

“I just really want to be involved and do something for my community,” she said. “I wanted to be involved and have a voice for my district.”

Despite her lack of experience, Worthy said her work has given her many skills that would make her a good councilor.

“One thing I’d bring to the council would be to be a very active listener,” she said. “That’s a skill set you have to have when you represent a community.”

Worthy said she thinks this is important to residents.

“To be able to survive as a small town, you have to be able to listen to what people want,” she said. “I think it’s important to people here.”

Worthy said she thinks something should be done about a ban or fee on plastic bags.

“I think it’s time to realize that single-use bags aren’t free,” she said. “It affects someone.”

Worthy said it’s important to protect the environment and find a solution to reduce waste.

“We need to be open and creative about how we fix this problem,” she said.

Worthy said she also wants to know how residents feel about the issue. She said she is an understanding person, and wants voters to know that about her.

“I’m a really flexible and understanding person,” she said. “I don’t think of myself as a cookie-cutter politician.”

As part of her campaign, Worthy has been going door to door talking to residents . She said it’s hard to run as a write-in candidate, but if elected, it will be worth it.

“I have to hope that people will remember me and my message and take it to the ballot,” she said.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.


I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.