Long-time town clerk challenges incumbent Topsham selectmen

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TOPSHAM — Incumbents David Douglass and Ronald Riendeau are challenged by the former town clerk, Ruth Lyons, in their bids for re-election to the Board of Selectmen.

The School Administrative District 75 Board of Directors election, meanwhile, is uncontested, with three candidates for three seats.

Election Day is Nov. 4.

David Douglass

Douglass, 41, is married, has two children, and has lived in Topsham for 13 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 served on the Finance Committee from 2002-2011, and was its chairman it from 2009-2011. He stepped down when he was elected to the Board of Selectmen.

“I’ve enjoyed my time (on the board),” he said last week, adding that he looks forward to working more with new Town Manager Rich Roedner, who was previously town planner, and with some of Roedner’s ideas – specifically an eye toward strategic planning.

“We can set a course for the town and not live from budget to budget, or from bad scenario to bad scenario,” Douglass explained. “We can prepare and be ready for things.”

Topsham does many things that are good, he said, “but I don’t know … that we’re able to do anything great. That’s partly because of budget scenarios we’ve been forced into.”

That’s where strategic planning comes into play, Douglass said. “Whatever the thing that we choose as a group to be great at, we have to make sure that it services the people,” he said. “That’s the whole point of the government … to make sure it’s a need of the people, not … just a want.”

Douglass described himself as fiscally conservative, adding that he can relate to young families where both parents are working and their children are busy before and after school.

“It’s tough to balance everything,” he said.

Ruth Lyons

Lyons is married, in her 60s, and has two children and six grandchildren.

Her path to government service began in 1990, when she challenged a property revaluation done at a time when real estate values had declined. She said the town was “trying to get the (revaluation) done before the market fell, and that was wrong,” she said in April.

A Town Meeting was held, and abatements of about $400,000 were awarded to residents. The town then offered a job as assistant tax collector to Lyons. She became deputy town clerk in 1991, and then town clerk in 1992.

Lyons was named Clerk of the Year in 2013 by the Maine Town & City Clerks Association, and retired June 30 after 22 years in the office.

She was president of the state clerks association from 2005-2006, president several times of the Sagadahoc County Clerks Association, and organized several New England clerks conferences.

Lyons also served on the Maine Municipal Association’s Conference Committee last year, and has served on the board of directors of the New England Municipal Clerks Institute, from which she graduated in 1994.

She also has chaired the Maine Town & City Clerks scholarship committee, was an executive board member on the Southern Midcoast Chamber of Commerce, and has been treasurer of the Sagadahoc Agricultural and Horticultural Fair Association.

Lyons said love for the town and its people prompted her to run for the Board of Selectmen. She said she is running because she feels she “can contribute in a positive way. … I just want to try to make a little difference if I can.”

She said Topsham’s government has “many great employees,” but noted that the town must be careful about increasing taxation.

“I want us to keep up our roads, I want us to have a quality of life like we do … however, I think we have to manage very, very carefully,” so that residents are not taxed out of their homes, she said.

Lyons said she is a strong believer in supporting small businesses, and praised Topsham’s business-friendly nature.

“I think I have proven myself over the years,” she said.

Ronald Riendeau

Riendeau, 78, 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 about 35 years.

Riendeau, who has served most of five 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. He was in the U.S. Army from 1959-1961.

“I have the experience, I have the history with the town; I think that means a lot,” Riendeau said.

He said he has been pleased with the way Topsham’s government has been run, and how it serves its people.

Riendeau said he hopes people will vote for him because of the way he has proved himself in the years he has served.

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.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.