June 20, 2018
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Katahdin region offers full slate of town government candidates

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

Jennifer Murray is pretty sure she will be elected to the East Millinocket School Committee on Nov. 6, but she is still hedging her bets. As the only unopposed candidate running for office in East Millinocket, Medway and Millinocket, she has only to worry about write-in candidates, she said.

“I don’t think there was much interest in running for school board, and I don’t know why,” Murray said Thursday. “I have been attending school board meetings for two years now, and not many people do unless it is a hot topic.”

“I think what it boils down to is that they [potential Katahdin region board candidates] don’t have the time because they work out of the area,” the stay-at-home mom added. “Nobody seems to know what is going on with the school or they don’t have children that are school age.”

Murray’s was the only race in East Millinocket, Medway and Millinocket that lacked enough candidates to create a contested race, however.

In Millinocket, resident Michael Austin, Town Council Chairman John Davis and Councilor Jimmy Busque filed papers by Sept. 28, in time to get their names put on the ballot as candidates for two open three-year seats, Town Clerk Roxanne Johnson said.

Eric Buckingham Jr. and Warren Steward are running for one three-year seat on the Millinocket School Committee. Former board Chairman Arnold Hopkins and resident Timothy Smyth are running for one open one-year seat, Johnson said.

In East Millinocket, Murray and Ryan M. Whitehouse are running for two open school board seats, while Gary MacLeod and Jeff C. DeWitt are running for one open seat on the Board of Selectmen, Town Clerk Erica Ingalls said.

Medway, which typically elects its board members and selectmen in a town meeting in June, is running a special election on Nov. 6 to fill the 19-month seat vacated by Selectman David Dickey, town Administrative Assistant Katherine Lee said.

Former Selectwoman Jane McLaughlin, who lost her seat in June, and residents Jeff Jandreau and Peter Rouleau are competing for Dickey’s seat. Dickey resigned on Sept. 14 to move to Portland for a new job, Lee said.

Murray said she is confident she can do well on the school board. Though two of her daughters are attending Stearns High School and Granite Street School in Millinocket, Murray has had children in East Millinocket schools for years. She sent her children to the Millinocket schools after home schooling one of them over a dispute with school officials about a teacher that she felt was bullying one of her daughters. Murray has attended all but three school board meetings in the last two years, she said, and testifies on school and government issues at the State House in Augusta regularly, she said.

Twice last year she testified before the Legislature’s Education Committee, she said.

“I do my homework. I know the issues. I go to Augusta on a fairly regular basis,” Murray said.

“I think East Millinocket is getting headed in the right direction, I just want to see them progress forward more and talk more about the education children are getting.”

“We have some wonderful teachers here in East and I hope it stays that way. I hope we can continue to keep them,” she added.

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