April 07, 2020

DA, sheriff candidates to debate at UMM

MACHIAS – Let the debates begin.

Candidates in several races to work in and represent Washington County will engage in debates tonight and next Thursday evening at the University of Maine at Machias.

This evening’s event takes place at 6:30 in the Portside Room of Kimball Hall.

Two debates will take place – one between the two candidates for the district attorney for the combined district of Washington and Hancock counties, plus a separate debate among three candidates for the Washington County sheriff’s position.

The DA and sheriff’s candidate debates will be moderated by Jon Reisman, a UMM politics and economics professor. Ruth Leubecker, a freelance journalist from East Machias, will provide questions from the panel.

Candidates for Washington County sheriff include Democrat George Bunker, Republican Rodney Merritt and independent Donald Smith.

Bunker and Smith met once in a locally televised debate in Lubec on Oct. 4. The three candidates all joined in a breakfast forum on Oct. 13 hosted by the Machias Bay Area Chamber of Commerce.

Candidates for the DA’s office are Republican Michael Povich of Ellsworth, the incumbent since 1974, and independent Steven Juskewitch of Dedham, an attorney for 30 years and a former assistant prosecutor for 12 years under Povich and five more years in Cumberland County.

This evening’s debate for the DA’s office is apparently the only time that the two candidates will be debating in the same room. No other debates have been scheduled during this campaign.

Juskewitch, the challenger, is open to a late scheduling of another debate. Povich was unavailable for comment Wednesday while he attended a meeting of the state’s prosecutors in Bar Harbor.

“You would think that some civic-minded organizations would want to set another debate,” Juskewitch said. “The voters could meet us, ask questions and get information.”

Povich and Juskewitch are familiar opponents. They ran against each other in the 2002 election.

It was the first time that Povich had faced a candidate since he was appointed district attorney in 1974.

Juskewitch ran against Povich in the Republican primary in June 2002, lost, then returned to the general election as a write-in candidate, losing again.

A recount confirmed Povich defeated Juskewitch by roughly 19,000 votes.

Juskewitch had sought the recount not because he believed the result would change, but because he wanted every citizen’s vote to count. He gained several votes because some ballots with his name written in were not initially counted because the box by his name was not appropriately marked with an X.

On Oct. 26, the legislative forum – for State House Districts 30, 32 and 33, and State Senate District 29 – will be moderated by UMM professor Ron Mosley. Marianne Thibodeau, a UMM librarian, forms the panel.

Candidates for House District 32 are incumbent Republican Harold Emery of Cutler and challenger Democrat Harold Prescott of East Machias.

Candidates for House District 30 are incumbent Republican Howard McFadden of Dennysville and challenger Democrat Albion Goodwin of Pembroke.

Candidates for House District 33 are Republican Joseph Tibbetts of Columbia and Democrat Cliff Norton of Jonesport.

Candidates for the state senate seat from Washington County include incumbent Republican Kevin Raye of Perry, Democrat Tom Finlay of East Machias, and independents Dana Kadey of Princeton and Nancy Oden of Jonesboro.

Correction: This article ran on page B3 in the State edition.

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