2014-06-06 / Community

School board candidates field questions

Ballot is ready for June 10 election
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer


Lionel Menard of Kennebunk, Mary Beth Luce of Arundel, and Maureen King of Kennebunkport are pictured after the RSU 21 Candidate’s Night Monday at Kennebunk Elementary School. Luce and King are running unopposed and Menard, along with Jeff Cole and Art LeBlanc, is running for two seats. Residents can vote for school board candidates at the district’s budget referendum Tuesday, June 10. (Alex Acquisto photo) Lionel Menard of Kennebunk, Mary Beth Luce of Arundel, and Maureen King of Kennebunkport are pictured after the RSU 21 Candidate’s Night Monday at Kennebunk Elementary School. Luce and King are running unopposed and Menard, along with Jeff Cole and Art LeBlanc, is running for two seats. Residents can vote for school board candidates at the district’s budget referendum Tuesday, June 10. (Alex Acquisto photo) KENNEBUNK — Three of the five candidates vying to fill four seats on the Regional School Unit 21 board of directors attended a Candidate’s Night on Monday night and spoke about issues that are important to them.

Kennebunk seats now occupied by Kevin Knight and Art LeBlanc are expiring. LeBlanc is running for reelection, alongside Jeff Cole and Lionel Menard. Maureen King’s seat in Kennebunkport is expiring, and she is running for reelection unopposed. Dianne Robbins’ seat in Arundel is expiring, and Mary Beth Luce is running unopposed.

Menard, King and Luce were present at Candidate’s Night.

The three candidates were asked a total of four questions, and for each, given a response time of two minutes.

King has 15 years of experience and has been a member of the school board since 1999.

“Educating our children is the single most important responsibility we have,” King told the audience. “I think public education is the most important thing we do.”

Luce, who is new to the area, said she is running for school board for her two small children’s sake.

“We specifically chose to move to this RSU,” Luce said. “We recognize the premier status of RSU 21,” Luce said of she and her husband.

Menard, who has been a Kennebunk resident for three years, said one of the main reasons he is running is because of the district’s survey results last fall about the percentage of high school and middle school students who were bullied.

Menard said he found it “troubling” that the district’s standards to prevent bullying “aren’t as tough as our academic standards.”

Menard also said he thinks the board needs to be in better communication with all three communities. “I see my role as bringing a voice for those who

Annual elections for municipal seats will take place Tuesday, June 10.

In Arundel, Thomas Danylik is running unopposed for reelection to the board of selectmen and Paul Raymond, also unopposed, is seeking a two-year term on the budget board.

In Kennebunk, Deborah Beal and Bill Ward are seeking reelection for their seats on the board of selectmen. Chris Cluff, a member of the budget board, is also seeking a seat on the board of selectmen.

Town Clerk Joanna Moran is seeking reelection against Sharon Monahan.

Deputy Town Clerk Merton Brown is seeking reelection as a write-in candidate.

In Kennebunkport, Ed Hutchins III is running unopposed for his seat on the board of selectmen.

The Regional School Unit 21 board of directors has four vacant seats: two for Kennebunk residents, and one each for a Kennebunkport resident and an Arundel resident.

Art LeBlanc is seeking reelection for his Kennebunk seat, alongside Lionel Menard and Jeff Cole.

Mary Beth Luce is running unopposed for the Arundel seat and Maureen King is running unopposed for her Kennebunkport seat. want to support schools, but they need a break from some of the financial burden they see.”

When candidates were asked what, if any, changes they would make from the many decisions made by the school board in the last year, all three candidates referenced the failed $75 million referendum.

“I think we needed to make better connections during our referendum process,” King said in reference to the board’s communication with the public. The communication between all three communities needs to improve,” King said. “We should look back, and then look forward to figure out how to better communicate with our public.”

“A major part of communication is listening,” Menard said, who then expressed that he feels, while the board asks for public input, they don’t always heed it. “I would like to see the board listen better,” and the “communities should feel more a part of the decisionmaking process.”

Luce believes in consensus, and “finding a plan that’s going to be unanimously decided on by the board,” and that, “with a 12-person board, there should be 12 people on board.”

Luce believes her newness and lack of bias is an advantage.

“I’m new to this area, and I think that’s the best thing I’m bringing to this board. I want to learn and I come in with no preconceived notions of what is right and wrong.”

In their closing statements, Menard, who is known for being a fixture at school board meetings and frequently telling the board that costs are too high, told the crowd on Monday night, “It’s not all about dollars and cents with me.”

“I really want to improve the school climate. It does concern me,” Menard said. Ways to improve the school climate, according to Menard, include “increasing collaboration, transparency and accountability.”

Residents of Arundel, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport can vote for their choice of school board candidates at the district’s budget referendum on Tuesday, June 10.

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