Service costs among issues for North Yarmouth selectmen candidates

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NORTH YARMOUTH — Three business owners are competing for two seats on the Board of Selectmen in the June 14 town election.

The three-year terms are being vacated by Selectman Carol Burgess, who has served four terms, and by one-term Selectman Mark Verrill.

Hoping to fill those seats are Darla Hamlin and Andrew Walsh, who both serve on the Budget Committee, and Mark Girard, who served on a recent ad-hoc committee focused on agreements between North Yarmouth and Cumberland.

Martha Leggat, who lost by 50 votes to Virginia Dwyer in last year’s School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors election, is running uncontested for the three-year School Board seat being vacated by David Perkins.

Burgess is switching her focus to the Budget Committee, on which three seats are open. Incumbent Pamela Ames and newcomer Donna Palmer are also running uncontested for that committee; Frank Coffin and Phil Jackson are not seeking re-election.

Cemetery Commissioner David Hyde did not return nomination papers, so that ballot spot remains empty.

A candidates night will be held at Town Hall at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 31.

Mark Girard

Girard, 58, is the chief operating officer and chief financial officer of SGC Engineering, a firm based in Westbrook. The Biddeford native, who has spent 12 years in North Yarmouth, is married and has three children.

“Democracy is a participation sport,” he said, noting that he has the opportunity and energy to serve and that “it’s nice to be able to give back to the community.”

Girard said he has neither a pet peeve nor pet project motivating him to be a selectman. But the town faces a lot of challenges, he said, noting that he wants to make sure there is “a good strategic sense of where we’re going, and how to best get there.”

Among those challenges is the increasing costs for services. And with the economic slump, Girard noted, “you’ve got that natural rub between the cost of administration of a town and the ability of the town to pay its taxes and fund all that.”

He said it is important for a town to know how to position itself in the wake of growth in the Portland area: “What does it want to be, want to accomplish, and how does it do the best job of getting there?”

Girard said his business and management experience has led him to be a critical thinker, a trait he would bring to the Board of Selectmen.

“I don’t walk into this thinking that I have a lot of answers,” he said. “But I do have the ability, I think, to ask the right questions, to help get to the right answer.”

Darla Hamlin

Hamlin, 63, is co-founder and president of Soft Trac, a Falmouth consulting firm that specializes in nonprofit technology and has offices in central and southern Maine as well as Massachusetts.

Hamlin, who is married and has two children and two step-children, has lived in North Yarmouth for 19 years.

“I have a history of community service in North Yarmouth,” she said. “I love the community. I feel people have a responsibility to serve.”

Hamlin is finishing her third term on the Budget Committee, where, she said, “you have to be sensitive to the needs of all of the residents, not just your own personal agenda. Whether it be funding the fire company, or paying the light bill. … You try not to bring any bias into anything that you do, and you’re watching out for the best interests of the taxpayers as well.”

She stepped down this year from the North Yarmouth Events Committee, which she chaired for five years. She also spearheaded the town’s flag program, and serves on Republican Party committees for the town, county and state.

Hamlin said she has no set agenda, but added that North Yarmouth cannot stand on its own: “We have to be good neighbors, and that means working with Yarmouth and Cumberland, and Gray or Durham. I look at that as a really important role that the Board of Selectmen play, because we represent everybody in our community. And what we do or don’t do reflects the community.”

“It’s not about me,” she added. “It’s about teamwork, and how I can provide leadership for teamwork as well. It’s a team that succeeds, not an individual.”

Andrew Walsh

Walsh, 56, is founder and president of Fat Andy’s Hardwoods, a Walnut Hill Road company that manufactures, distributes and installs custom hardwood lumber, staircases, moldings, flooring and millwork.

The father of three moved to North Yarmouth in 1990, having previously been in the lumber business in Seattle, where he invested in a sandwich shop called Fat Andy’s. Walsh brought the name to Maine.

Overall, the town is in “pretty good shape,” Walsh said.

“I would like to see the town be as fiscally responsible as possible, without being stupid,” he said, for example, not to be so frugal that costs avoided today will add up and be more expensive to address later on.

Walsh said he would also like to see the Property Assessed Clean Energy program implemented in North Yarmouth, so residents would have access to low-interest loans for home energy improvements. He said he would also like to see the town maintain its recycling efforts at least at the current level.

He said he also wants the relationship between North Yarmouth and Cumberland handled well. He noted that some North Yarmouth residents are concerned about fees for services provided by Cumberland.

Walsh has served two years of a three-year term on the Budget Committee, and would have to step down if elected to the Board of Selectmen. He is also on the town’s Economic Development and Sustainability Committee, a group charged to make North Yarmouth more business-friendly without bringing in businesses that would change the town’s character.

He said he is very comfortable dealing with finances, and also that he has been either a boss or business owner since he was 19, “so I’ve got a lot of experience with making decisions and dealing with people.”

Walsh added that “I think I’m a relatively open-minded person. I’m willing to listen to both sides.”

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

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Mark Girard

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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.