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Rich runs against Duguay for commissioner
COUNTY — Jane Rich (D-Andover) is running against incumbent David Duguay (I-Byron) for a seat on the Oxford County Commission, representing District 2.
District 2 covers most of northern and eastern Oxford County, including Hartford and Sumner.
Duguay, the general manager at Hannaford supermarket in Jay, has served as a commissioner for eight years and is running for a third term.
A passion for county government drives his campaign, Duguay says. People have encouraged him to run for state Senate, but he prefers serving at the county level, he says.
If reelected, Duguay says he would continue to find ways to improve services and keep taxes low. He would also examine new roles for county government.
Rich has experience in both county and municipal government. She worked in the register of deeds office between 1990 and 2010 and retired as register of deeds.
Before becoming register, Rich says she was the first woman to be elected to the Andover Board of Selectmen, where she served for nine years in the 80s and 90s. Rich is also a pastor at First Congregational Church in Andover.
Rich says her experience at both the county and municipal levels gives her a unique perspective on how county governance affects municipalities.
With only a few days before the election on November 6, we asked the candidates to explain why they were running for a commissioner's seat.
The incumbent stands on his record of positive changes made by the commission in the past eight years.
Duguay cites the 25 percent increase of sheriff's patrols, the addition of passport applications in the probate office and installation of a wood pellet heating system in the courthouse as some of the commission's accomplishments.
Department head meetings, initiated during his tenure, has improved communication and coordination in county government, Duguay says.
“Instead of operating different departments in silos, it just brings a lot of synergy to the way we operate county government,” he explains.
The county government has also been able to keep taxes low – the 2012 mil rate is lower than when he ran for office in 2004, Duguay says.
If reelected, Duguay says he would look at using the jail more effectively, examine the county's reporting structure and see if more DEA agents can be posted in the county.
Duguay would also like to expand the county's role in smaller towns, potentially by hiring county code enforcement officers, assessors and animal control officers to cover towns that cannot afford them.
Rich says she is running as a candidate who has spent the least amount of money possible.
According to data from the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, Rich's campaign contributions are $898.44, almost all of it her own money.
She says her decision to run a shoestring campaign comes from her belief there is too much money in politics.
"People of ordinary means can't really afford to run for public office unless they raise huge amounts of money, then they owe the givers of that money some favor down the road," Rich says.
Rich says she would like county government to continue modernizing by bringing in new technology to increase efficiency and access for users.
The issue of the Oxford County Airport is a top concern for Rich. She says the airport “is not a plus” and a drain on the county. Rich would prefer to see the airport sold to a private entity.
Rich says she's also concerned about the economy and health in Oxford County. She thinks the commission could increase its support for the Western Maine Economic Development Council and try to attract sustainable jobs to the county.
Rich also thinks the commission could take a role in emphasizing the importance of good health in Oxford County.