2 Chebeague Islanders compete for Board of Selectmen seat
CHEBEAGUE ISLAND — Next month's Board of Selectmen election has two candidates, former Selectman Mary Holt and Bill Calthorpe, running for the seat of retiring Selectman Herb Maine, who decided not to seek re-election after serving a second term of office.
Beverly Johnson is unopposed for re-election to the School Committee.
Holt, 62, grew up in Connecticut. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Southern Connecticut State University and an education specialist degree from the University of Connecticut.
Holt lived in Granby, Connecticut, and taught special education for 26 years before retiring and moving to Chebeague Island with her husband, John, in 2007. She works part-time as a special education teacher at the Chebeague Island School and serves on the board of the island's Historical Society. She also is chairwoman of the town Democratic committee.
Holt was elected to the Board of Selectmen at a special Town Meeting in November 2011 after Selectman Mark Dyer resigned from the board amid allegations he had broken into the town garage (Dyer has since run successfully for the board in both 2012 and 2013).
After serving for 18 months, Holt opted not to seek re-election, choosing instead to chair the town's ad hoc Sunset Committee, which is charged with evaluating the waterfront property known as Sunset Landing.
One year later, she has decided she's ready to return.
"Now that we're a well-functioning committee, I feel that I can do both at this time," Holt said. "I owe my service to the town."
Holt said that, if elected, she would focus on capital planning, improving infrastructure, and increasing opportunities for small business on the island. She noted the importance of transparency and communication and getting more citizens involved in the process of town government.
"I really believe in the old (adage), it takes a village," Holt said. "And we are a village. Not all of us think alike. We don't all have the same backgrounds and want to go to the same place in the future. But together, if we work collaboratively and really listen to each other, we'll be able to make progress and make sure our community is in a sound state for the next generation."
Calthorpe, 53, was born in Boston and went to high school in Andover, Massachusetts. He has been a commercial fisherman for more than 20 years, and previously worked in sales.
Calthorpe moved to Chebeague Island 28 years ago. He served on the island's Emergency Medical Services team for six years.
Calthorpe describes himself as a fiscal conservative. As a selectman, he said, he would aim to control the budget, taxes and spending.
However, Calthorpe, who has two children enrolled in the Chebeague Island School, said fiscal prudence should not come at the expense of education. He said the school is one of the town's greatest assets – one capable of drawing young families to Chebeague – and stressed the need to maintain the school at its current level of quality.
"I'd put our school up against any school in the state, public or private," he said.
As a selectman, Calthorpe said he would initiate a broad review of town ordinances.
"When we seceded (in 2007), we basically just adopted Cumberland's ordinances," Calthorpe said. "A lot of them are fine, but I think they need to be reviewed to make them more receptive to the comprehensive plan and islanders themselves. It's a delicate balance, maintaining a viable year-round community, and I think the ordinances need to work in that regard."
Calthorpe said one of the biggest challenges facing the selectmen is facilitating progress while preserving Chebeague's traditional way of life.
"Change is inevitable, but we need to try to keep it from being too drastic," he said. "I want to maintain it as the fishing community it has been. I don't want to see it turn into a Martha's Vineyard."
Johnson, 65, has served on the School Committee since the town was incorporated in 2007. A native of Boston, Johnson studied civil engineering at Northeastern University.
She moved to Chebeague Island in 1970 and began a career as a plumber and lobster fisherman. She served as chairwoman of the Cumberland Town Council in the 1980s. Today, in addition to plumbing, she runs the chebeague.org website, posting daily news about life on the island.
Johnson hopes to bring adult education courses to the Chebeague Island School, which serves pre-K through fifth-grade students. She said she also hopes to increase the school's volunteer base and extracurricular activities for students.
Johnson said the transition, begun in 2011, of the island's middle and high school students from Maine School Administrative District 51 to the Yarmouth School Department has been "very successful," and will be complete within three years.
"I just want to continue on the same track, having the best elementary school in the state of Maine," Johnson said.
Polls will be open Tuesday, June 10, from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. at the Chebeague Island Hall and Community Center, 247 South Road. Absentee ballots are available at the town clerk’s office, 192 North Road. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Thursday, June 5, at 5 p.m.