On Tuesday, March 14, 2023, the town of Orono’s annual municipal election will officially be held from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Council Chambers at 59 Main Street. In the meantime, early voting has already begun, so the platforms of the current candidates on the ballet are relevant and deserving of review.
There are currently two seats up for re-election on both the Orono Town Council and the RSU No. 26 School Board. These positions all have three-year term limits and allow the chosen candidates enough time to make a difference in the Orono community and in its education system while they hold seats, so it is important for voters to know about those they are selecting.
University of Maine’s own Kevin Roberge, an adjunct lecturer in mathematics and women’s, gender and sexuality studies, is running for a position on the school board. Roberge has already served on the board and is hopeful to be reelected in order to continue working toward achieving greater equity and inclusion in the school system.
Also hopeful to claim an open spot on the board is Brittany Cline, who is connected to the university through her role as an adjunct faculty member. As an ecologist and mother of two, Cline is passionate about allowing environmental education to play a significant role in early childhood learning and development. One of Cline’s key goals if she clinches an open seat is to aid the district in accessing locally-grown organic food, as well as placing more of an emphasis on food insecurity and the opportunities for growing locally. Like Roberge, Cline is also eager to advance diversity, equity and inclusion within the school system and beyond.
The final candidate for consideration of a school board position is three-time elect Jake Eckert. Eckert spent two years as board chair before embarking on a six-year run as board vice chair. As someone who works professionally in insurance, Eckert believes the main purpose of a school board is to make sure that schools are run in a fiscally responsible manner. He also prioritizes making sure that every student, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, religion, economic status, or identity can feel comfortable in their learning environment.
The Orono town council’s open seats also have three candidates vying for the chance to best serve the community.
Jonathan Parker, owner and operator of Black Bear Lawn Care, previously served on the Veazie Town Council for six years. Parker also worked as a call division firefighter for the Orono Fire Department for 12 years and has engaged in a variety of time-consuming community service activities throughout his lifelong residency in the Orono area. As a small business owner and father of four, Parker hopes to acquire a seat on the council so that he can continue his efforts for making Orono an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.
Next up on the ballot is Meghan Gardner, who has served on the council since 2017 and is its current vice chair. In her professional career, Gardner is currently the academic advisor for UMaine’s Graduate School of Business. In addition to the town council, she holds an additional vice chair position on the Maine Women’s Lobby and Education Fund, which is a non-profit organization seeking greater gender justice throughout the state of Maine.
The third and final council candidate for consideration is former UMaine director of marketing and communications, Daniel Demeritt. After spending years coordinating projects for the university, such as the “Together for Maine” public health campaign, Demeritt moved on to the Maine Association of Health Plans, which he currently leads.
“We have found incredible belonging in Orono, met wonderful people, and made unforgettable new family memories. I want the same for everyone who lives, works and learns here,” Demeritt stated after moving to Orono with his family.
This year’s candidates for the RSU No. 26 School Board and the Orono Town Council have dedicated their lives to serving the community through various methods of engagement over the years. It is important for local voters to now do their part by getting out and making their vote count.
For more information on the upcoming municipal election, visit https://www.orono.org/304/Elections-Voting-Information.