BELFAST, Maine — Andy Cardinale, a former business owner and current Waldo County Communications Center dispatcher, is challenging incumbent William Shorey for a seat on the three-member Waldo County Commission in next Tuesday’s election.
Cardinale, a Republican who lives in Swanville, has never held elective office but believes he has had a close-up view of county government, and believes he can make it run more efficiently.
Shorey, a Democrat who lives in Searsport, responds that in the last four years, he and his fellow commissioners have held the county budget to historically low increases.
The two are vying to represent the eastern towns in Waldo County: Frankfort, Jackson, Monroe, Prospect, Searsport, Swanville, Stockton Springs and Winterport.
“It’s my first foray into the political arena,” Cardinale, 62, said Tuesday. Approaching retirement, he will have the time to devote to the new job should he win, he said.
Cardinale owned and operated @WORK Personnel Services, a franchised business, for 12 years, turning it back to the company in 2005.
“It was a good 12 years,” he said.
Now, as a county employee, he believes he knows where savings can be found.
“I know where the money comes from and where it has to be spent,” he said. As a Republican, Cardinale wants to hold down property taxes.
He also criticizes the current board for failing to communicate adequately with town officials, such as by attending annual town meetings and contacting town managers. Cardinale believes the county could work with towns to find economies of scale in joint ventures.
“I can do a good job,” he said, as commissioner.
Shorey, 70, bristles at his opponent’s charge that commissioners don’t keep town officials in the loop.
“I don’t think that’s fair at all,” he said Tuesday. “We work very hard at the county to inform the towns.”
County budget committee members are appointed by towns, Shorey noted, and often its members are elected municipal officials. The county commissioners contact that committee four times during its review of the budget, he added.
Commissioners also host one meeting a year with elected town officials, Shorey said.
Describing himself as a Reagan Democrat committed to fiscal responsibility, Shorey pointed out that from 1989 to 2009, the county budget grew by an average rate of 8.6 percent. Since he took office in 2009 through this year, the average increase has been 1.87 percent.
“That’s fact,” he said.
The county was able to build a new sheriff’s office, a $2.1 million project which included $500,000 in grants, Shorey said, while remaining debt-free, other than one final $25,000 lease payment on software.
Shorey also said he launched a community garden project, working with inmates at the prerelease center growing vegetables on a plot on Swan Lake Avenue in Swanville. He has volunteered 400 hours at the site, and the garden has produced 20,000 pounds of food for senior centers and food pantries.