Originally published in Castine Patriot, February 14, 2013
Penobscot town meeting
Four open seats, three incumbents
by Anne Berleant
With the deadline past for filing nomination papers, there are no contested races in local elections. Incumbents Paul Bowen, Bill Hutchins and Jim Goodman are running for a three-year selectman seat, a two-year road commissioner seat, and a three-year school board seat, respectively. A second, open three-year school board seat has no candidates.
Paul Bowen has sat at the selectmen’s table for 20 years total, and as chairman for his past three terms.
“It is a small amount of public service I can do. I always thought it was important to participate in the community,” he said in a telephone interview.
But the short answer as to why he seeks reelection is “because nobody else wanted to do it.”
That can be read two ways, Bowen said. “I’m a little concerned about the seeming lack of interest in people…for some of these public jobs.” Or, it may just be that those filling the positions are “doing okay.”
Challenges lie down the road for the town of Penobscot, Bowen said, especially if changes in revenue sharing, excise tax and town reimbursements “go through as proposed” by the current governor.
“Our first response would be to do away with the charities, just not have them in the warrant at all. That would keep our taxes relatively level,” Bowen said.
“There are not a lot of areas to save money. You can’t not run a transfer station. You can’t not sand roads.”
Jim Goodman seeks to remain in the school board seat he filled a year ago when Karrie Prescott resigned. He is running unopposed for a three-year term.
Serving on the school board has been “a unique experience and a very positive experience,” he said in a recent interview.
The idea of community service, and being part of a community, is behind his decision to run. “I think I can make a contribution,” he said.
Goodman sees himself as a conservative voice on the board.
“I’m conservative fiscally. Getting the biggest bang out of the buck. Open to new ideas,” he characterized himself.
Goodman said one major responsibility of the school board is to launch elementary students into successful high school careers.
With the 2013-14 budget affected by a greater number of Penobscot students entering high school than graduating, Goodman said he foresees “an effect on elementary programming” if that trend continues.
“I think we’re going to look at that. We have that obligation,” he said.
Elementary school programming “is our primary concern,” Goodman said.
A former commanding officer of the naval RTOC unit at Maine Maritime Academy and University of Maine, Goodman served in active Navy duty for 28 years. He is married, with one son at George Stevens Academy and one at Penobscot Community School.
Bill Hutchins still enjoys his job, he said in a recent telephone interview.
He seeks reelection to a two-year term as road commissioner, a position he’s held for well over a decade.
“I’ve been doing it for 15 years,” he said. “I’m doing it for the job.”
As road commissioner, Hutchins makes sure the roads are sanded and salted in winter and kept in working condition year-round.
For the latter, Hutchins said “we’re three or four years behind all the time. Everybody’s in the same boat. It’s a tough situation.”