This coming Monday, Robbinston will be holding town elections, and our annual town meeting, which addresses our annual town budget and other vital functions of local governance. It is a fairly straightforward procedure, and I don't expect a lot of controversy.
In past years, we've had lengthy debates over such controversial provisions as adding a locked gate to the school parking lot, and eliminating a street light. There was also the grand battle over the "early payer discount" for property taxpayers, which I waged for years on principle. I felt that those who saw fit to pay their taxes ahead of schedule deserved a 2% rebate, and there were a few years where this rate was approved. Before my efforts, the traditional rebate was 1.5%, so it wasn't such a big deal, and may have amounted to an extra thousand dollars for the town. This year, the rebate will likely end up being 1%, which is what it has been the last few years.
The only contested race this year is my own, for the School Board. I'm running against an incumbent who voted to close the school last summer, despite the overwhelming objection of the townspeople. Despite his actions, he still has a good chance of winning reelection, as he's shaped up in recent months and has a devoted block of supporters.
Hoping to drum up some last minute support, I've drafted the following letter, which I'm mailing out to a few people in town. My monetary situation is precarious at the moment, and I'm almost out of stamps, so I unfortunately can't send it out to everyone. I hope people will share this.
My Fellow Robbinston Residents,
I'm writing to let you know that I'll be running for the School Board this year, and I hope that you'll vote for me. I believe we have a good school here in town, and I'd like to see that it remains open, so our children can still be educated here in our own community. Growing up, I attended Robbinston Grade School, and I currently have 2 children there, so maintaining the school as a quality learning environment is vitally important to me.
My opponent for the board is Thomas Critchley, and while I'm sure he's a good man, we have had philosophical differences regarding the school. Last year, when our school was threatened with a funding problem, Mr. Critchley voted to close it, feeling our children could get a better education in Perry, Eastport, or Calais. It wasn't even a cost-savings measure, as the tuition we'd have to pay to send our kids to another school would exceed what we're paying to keep our hometown school open. Fortunately, the other two board members, with encouragement from the townspeople, voted to keep it open.
I know Mr. Critchley only wants the best education for Robbinston students, just as I do, but we clearly disagreed last year on where they'd get that best education.
I believe we need someone on the School Board who will not work to shut our school, but will work to keep it open and make sure it is the best place to teach our kids. That is why I'm running, to assure that we have another voice on the board that will advocate for the continued existence of our school, and fight to make it better. That may be tough at times, with limited resources and restrictive government mandates that often undermine rural communities, but I'm prepared to tackle whatever gets thrown our way.
I hope you will stop by Robbinston Grade School on March 26th to give me your vote, and encourage others to do the same.
Martin T. Ingham