Three candidates vie for vacant selectman’s seat in Vassalboro

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro voters will choose among three candidates to serve on the Board of Selectmen until June 2018, finishing the late Philip Haines’ term. The candidates are Larisa (Reese) Batchelder, Lewis (Lew) Devoe and John Melrose.

When Batchelder ran unsuccessfully for the selectboard in June, she was 38 years old, a resident of Main Street, in East Vassalboro, since December 2015. She listed her occupation as co-owner of Cozy Barn Antiques and mentioned her education in political science.

Her goal in running for selectman, she said, was “to open communication between the community and the board of selectman. I want to have an open mind when listening to the community and only make decisions after they have been heard, not before.”

She added, “I want to be sure that our small town government is free of cliques that can hinder good choices and cause favoritism. My aim is to vote according to the law and the people of Vassalboro of whom I would represent.”

Devoe, 69, is a Gray Road resident who has lived in Vassalboro for 38 years. He is a veteran, and is retired after 34 years as first a Maine Facilities Manager for New Balance factories, warehouses and retail stores and then a Maintenance Process Manager for Scott Paper Company.

He has been a state-licensed master electrician for 44 years and has experience in planning, project management, security, loss prevention, safety and environmental issues. He and his wife Deb have three grown sons.

Devoe listed three goals he would pursue if elected selectman: understand and oversee budgets using his business skills, like experience with utility costs; increase publicity for meetings and agendas; and coach town employees on ways to reduce energy costs.

Melrose, 66, lives on the Bog Road and has been a Vassalboro resident for 41 years. He recently retired from the Eaton Peabody Consulting Group, after a 44-year career working with municipalities that included seven years with the Maine Municipal Association, 20 years running his own company, Maine Tomorrow, and eight years as Governor King’s Commissioner of Transportation. Governor LePage has appointed him chairman of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which is in charge of the Amtrak Downeaster.

Melrose thinks Vassalboro benefits from good leadership on the board of selectmen and the school board. He believes town officials and residents can “creatively solve problems through consensus” while keeping the tax rate low and providing good services. If elected, he plans to use his experience to “constructively build on these strengths of our community.”

Vassalboro polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 7 at the town office. Absentee ballots are available at the office during office hours until Nov. 2.

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