March 28, 2020
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Houlton council candidates hold forum

HOULTON – All of the candidates pledged to be fiscally responsible and do their best work on behalf of the citizens, and all expressed a desire to advance economic development within the town.

In fact, there was little disagreement among the four potential candidates for Town Council as they participated in a candidate’s forum on Wednesday evening.

Sponsored by the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce, the forum has become an annual event that aims to introduce the public to potential candidates and help them learn each individual’s stance on local and statewide issues.

The hourlong event was moderated by Galen Wilde and broadcast live on the local public access TV channel. The candidates responded to questions from Wilde while also fielding questions that were called in by the public.

Two council seats are up for grabs this year, and all of the contestants vying for them have been involved in municipal government in some form.

Paul Cleary and Phil Bernaiche are incumbents seeking re-election.

Both Cleary and Bernaiche have served on the council – Bernaiche for 10 years, Cleary for six.

Elizabeth “Betty” Childers and Nancy Ketch are challenging the two sitting board members.

Childers sat for eight years on the SAD 29 board, serving as the chairwoman of the panel for approximately six years.

Ketch has served on the town’s board of budget review and is a past member of the Shiretown Development Corp.

During the forum, the candidates discussed everything from the condition of the town’s sidewalks to its zoning ordinances, and each summarized what their primary goals would be if they won a council seat.

All candidates said that they wanted to further economic development and bring more jobs and businesses to town.

Cleary also said that he would continue to strive to keep the mill rate affordable and move the town toward a positive future.

“The town is working together and moving forward, and I want to be part of it,” he said.

Bernaiche also pledged to keep local government spending to a minimum, advocate for senior citizens and “build a better future for our children.”

Childers assured residents that she would listen to their concerns and be a strong advocate for the taxpayers. Both Ketch and Childers said that they would work to address concerns about the town’s roads and sidewalks. All of the candidates agreed that more needs to be done to repair sidewalks and reconstruct local roads, some of which are unpaved or riddled with cracks and potholes.

The candidates urged the public to get out and vote on Nov. 7


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