ROCKLAND, Maine — No candidates have filed for five vacant seats on the Knox County Budget Committee, the panel that has the final say on the county budget that totaled $9.2 million this year.
Maine Secretary of State spokeswoman Megan Sanborn said even though no one filed nomination papers by June 1, candidates can run as write-in candidates for the Nov. 6 election. Anyone who plans to run as a write-in candidate would need to file a declaration of candidacy with the Maine secretary of state 45 days prior to the election, or by Sept. 21.
Seats on the Knox County Budget Committee are non-partisan, meaning candidates do not run as a member of a political party.
There are nine seats on the committee with five expiring Dec. 31.
Up for grabs are the two seats that represent Rockland, which are currently held by Elizabeth Dickerson and Tina Plummer. Dickerson also serves on the Rockland City Council and is the Democrat nominee for the Maine House District 47 seat that represents Rockland and part of Owls Head.
The other three seats with terms expiring at the end of the year are held by Ann Matlack of Spruce Head, Robert Duke of Rockport and William Jones of Hope.
Matlack’s seat represents Friendship, Isle au Haut, Matinicus, North Haven and St. George. Jones’ seat represents Warren and Hope. Duke’s seat represents Rockport and part of Camden.
Telephone messages were left Tuesday with the five incumbents asking whether they would be seeking re-election. Plummer and Jones said they were uncertain whether they would run this year. Duke said he hopes to serve another term. The other members have not yet returned calls.
The Knox County Budget Committee is different than other budget committees in that it is not an advisory panel. A two-thirds vote of the panel can overrule budget actions of the three-member elected Knox County Commissioners.
The budget process received considerable public scrutiny this year when the county commissioners and budget committee initially approved a budget with pay raises of up to 40 percent for some employees. After town officials in the county challenged the December vote for lack of public notice, the two panels met again in March and agreed to cap raises at 9 percent. In May, however, the commissioners voted to spend money within the overall approved budget to grant the controversial raises.
Union Selectman Greg Grotton, who was one of the leading critics of the pay raises, said that he has heard that the local tea party is considering putting up write-in candidates for the county commissioner seats.
Two of the county commissioner seats are up for election this year. Roger Moody of Camden and Richard Parent Jr. both filed papers and are unopposed for re-election in their county districts. Moody, a Democrat, represents Camden, Criehaven, Hope, Isle au Haut, Matinicus Island Plantation, North Haven, Union and Vinalhaven. He voted for the pay raises.
Parent, a Republican, represents Cushing, Friendship, Thomaston, St. George and Warren. Parent voted against the raises.
Grotton said he has not heard of anyone planning write-in campaigns for the budget committee seats.