PITTSFIELD, Maine — The Town Council will have a new member after Tuesday’s election.
Political newcomers William Bradshaw and Crystal Witham are facing off in the only contested election among Pittsfield’s boards and committees. Incumbent Donna Chale decided not to seek re-election to the District 3 seat.
Bradshaw and Witham offer voters distinct choices in terms of their qualifications and the role they see themselves playing if elected.
Witham, who holds an accounting certification and works as a consultant for companies trying to reduce their workers’ compensation expenses, said her interest in running for office was piqued last year when the Town Council raised water rates to pay for maintenance to the town’s aging infrastructure. Witham was the only community member who voiced opposition to the plan during a November 2009 public hearing.
“When I went to that water meeting, everyone on the council shook their heads like they all understood,” she said. “We have people in this town losing their income. Our companies are struggling, yet our costs in every category are rising.”
Witham said she thinks some council and town official decisions need a higher level of scrutiny, which she said she would provide as a town councilor. On fiscal matters, Witham said the council should try to exert more control on outside entities that affect the town’s budget, such as the school department and Somerset County government.
“We have to be able to get better control of those things,” she said.
Bradshaw, who is an estimator for construction companies and owner of Big Bill’s ice cream and food shop in the downtown, said his skills in public infrastructure engineering would be helpful in the town’s efforts to upgrade its roads, sewers and water lines. Bradshaw said during a recent candidate’s forum that he would take his place on the council quietly — at least at first.
“One of my main things if I were to take office is to make sure I listen and come very well prepared to every meeting,” he said. “Where I’m new, I’m not going to try and say a lot for a while.”
Bradshaw said he’d work to preserve what he sees as an already fiscally conservative climate in town government.
“Our taxes are high, but they haven’t gone up a huge amount lately,” he said. “The town of Pittsfield is fiscally sound and cautious. I wouldn’t want to try to do too much too soon.”
Also on the ballot, incumbent Town Councilor Christopher Carr is unopposed for an at-large seat and Michael Brooks and incumbent Jan Laux are unopposed for two seats on the SAD 53 board of education.