From right, Blue Hill selectman candidate Jim Dow answers a question at a candidates forum at the Blue Hill Public Library Monday. Adam Gray (left) is also seeking election to a three-year term on the board. Longtime Selectman Jim Schatz is retiring. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY JENNIFER OSBORN

Candidates participate in Blue Hill forum

BLUE HILL — Two candidates are vying to replace longtime Selectman Jim Schatz when he retires in April.

More than 80 Blue Hill residents and town officials turned out to hear from the two men running for Schatz’s seat: Jim Dow and Adam Gray.

Both participated in a candidates forum at the Blue Hill Public Library on Monday.

The Penobscot Bay Press and the League of Women Voters hosted the forum, which was moderated by Publisher Nat Barrows.

Dow, a former attorney and retired executive director of Blue Hill Heritage Trust, quipped that this was probably the first time in history that two former basketball players were running for the office of selectman.

“I’m offering myself as a candidate for a variety of reasons,” Dow said.

“For one, this is my home. I care about it,” he said.

The Belfast native said he learned recently that one of his ancestors was born in Blue Hill in 1772 — 10 years after the town was founded. The town’s first minister, the Rev. Jonathan Fisher, married his ancestors.

Dow has lived in Blue Hill for 25 years and raised two children, now grown, here.

Dow said he’s running in part because he has the “luxury of time. I retired a few years ago.”

“Next, I have a set of skills and experience that I think would be useful for this town,” Dow said.

He listed several skills, including managing budgets, managing other people’s money in the form of charitable donations, and he has also managed staff.

“I also know various sectors of the community,” Dow said. “I know people and I like the people of this town very much.”

Gray, who was born and raised in Blue Hill, is also running for selectman.

“I’m not as seasoned as Jim,” Gray said. “I’m not a lawyer. I’m a down home country boy.”

“I’ve been self-employed since the age of 18, building mostly, lobstering here and there,” Gray said. “I plowed this driveway for years,” referring to the library’s parking lot.

“I’ve been involved with Odd Fellows for 25 years now,” Gray said.

As a member of the fraternal organization, it was Gray’s idea to give out $1,000 worth of gift cards to help struggling families and single parents at Christmas.

“It started off and a thousand dollars went in two days,” Gray said. “I went back and got $500 more with a little bit of deliberation from the brothers.”

“I also give out four $1,000 Scholarship Book Awards through the Oddfellows,” he said. “I’m part of the board that does that.”

The pair answered several questions, including how important commercial fishery is to the town’s finances.

“I would say it’s one of the biggest industries out there in Blue Hill,” Gray said.

Gray cited $6.4 million in lobster landings in Blue Hill between the wharf in South Blue Hill and from the inner harbor.

“That’s a lot of money,” Gray said. “That’s a lot of trips to Tradewinds.”

“The dredging of the harbor needs to happen,” Gray said. “Get the fishermen out there and give the residentials the chance to use the harbor that we love.”

Dow said, “There’s no question the fishery is a big part of the community. It’s something we have to maintain as long as we can. It gives a richness to this community in many different ways.”

Another question from the audience was whether the town-paid health insurance was a “motivation” for either candidate’s run.

Both said no.

Both Dow and Gray said they would like to see the time for selectmen’s meetings change from 1:05 p.m. Fridays to a time that would allow working people to attend.

Both candidates favor Blue Hill hiring a town administrator, which is a referendum question at the polls on Friday, April 5, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.
Jennifer Osborn

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