BLUE HILL — Voters will have a contested race for the Board of Selectmen to decide during the annual Town Meeting polls on Friday, April 1.
The term of Selectman Jim Schatz is expiring. Schatz is seeking re-election to another three-year term. Planning Board member Danner Curtis and resident Butler Smythe are challenging Schatz.
Here are profiles of each candidate:
Selectman Jim Schatz is a former state representative and has served as a Blue Hill selectman for 21 years.
“It’s my passion,” Schatz said. “I’ve always been engaged in government and feel there’s a skill set that makes some people effective and others not so much. I have the skill set that makes me effective.”
Schatz has organized and led, along with Stonington Town Manager Kathleen Billings, a peninsula-wide effort to improve Route 15. That has resulted in the Maine Department of Transportation reconstructing a several-mile chunk of the road years ahead of schedule as well as making improvements to the Mines Road portion of Route 15.
Schatz said Blue Hill is in transition.
Blue Hill is trying to improve its economy in ways other than encouraging more restaurants, hotels and inns to open, he said.
“Our future should still include that, but we are looking at education and health services as being a dominant feature in our economy,” Schatz said. “Strong schools and good health care — people make choices about where they want to live based on those things. These are strengths that we have here in the town’s environment so you build on those.”
“It’s important that people in my position recognize that and try to build on that,” Schatz said. “So our focus is not only to encourage that type of growth but to improve our recreational activities as we’re trying with the walking path and expansion of the recreation programs.”
Schatz is on Blue Hill Memorial Hospital’s Board of Trustees. He is chairman of the Peninsula Free Clinic Advisory Board. He serves on the Healthy Peninsula Advisory Group and the Hancock County Budget Advisory Committee.
Blue Hill native Curtis is a commercial lobster fisherman and runs a blueberry business, Danner Dew Farm, in North Blue Hill.
Curtis also runs a rental business with his wife, Dewey.
“My daughter [Justine] works in Blue Hill at the hospital,” Curtis said. “My brother owns the Fishnet on Main Street, so we have a lot of family here.”
Curtis has not previously been elected to office.
The Board of Selectmen appointed Curtis to the Planning Board two years ago to fill out the remainder of Vaughn Leach’s term when he was elected selectman.
“I do have so much stake in Blue Hill and I just want to be part of the town government,” Curtis said. “I’d like to get involved. I’m interested in the way our government works. I think our government works well the way the three selectmen work together and I’d like to keep the tax down in Blue Hill.”
Curtis and his wife serve as a host family for three international students attending George Stevens Academy and they are members of the First Baptist Church.
Butler Smythe is a longtime summer resident who now lives in Blue Hill year-round.
“I’m a retired military and retired defense contractor and relocated to Blue Hill, Maine, in 2014,” Smythe said.
Smythe said he has held “several elected-type offices” but has never held political office.
“I think Blue Hill needs positive change and I’ve got several items I think need to and can be addressed and haven’t been in the recent past,” Smythe said.
Those issues include lack of positive communication between the town and the business community and lack of contact with neighboring towns or selectmen on common issues, said Smythe.
Smythe said a lack of affordable broadband Internet access for everyone is another issue.
“I think there’s a complete lack of incentive for people to move to Blue Hill with their businesses,” Smythe said.
If elected, Smythe said he would donate his selectman’s pay to a group or groups working toward “economic capability” for Blue Hill.
“I want to make positive change to Blue Hill that’s in the best interest of everybody,” Smythe said. “And I can bring positivity to the office.”