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Presque Isle residents come out to vote, encourage others to make their voices heard

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — During the first hour of voting at the Sargent Family Community Center in Presque Isle Tuesday, hundreds of people lined up in the gymnasium to cast their ballots on a variety of races and issues that will have an impact at both the local and state level. 

Presque Isle City Clerk Tom King noted that as of 9 a.m., he and volunteer clerks had seen a “steady stream” of people coming through the doors and that he was glad to see so many residents take local and state issues seriously.

“The population here seems to always turn out to vote even during a midterm election year, which is encouraging,” King said, referring to how voter turnout typically goes down when not a presidential election year. “It’s nice to see that people are concerned about how the issues impact them and want to choose representatives that they think will best serve them.”

Local voters were able to choose between five candidates for Presque Isle City Council —  Doug Cyr, Don Gardner, Maureen Hanley and Jeffrey Willette  who are vying for two four-year seats; and Jacob Shaw, the lone candidate running for a one-year term. They also were deciding whether to support a request for a $15 million bond from SAD 1 that would pay to close Pine Street Elementary School and Zippel Elementary School and to renovate Presque Isle Middle School to become a K-8 school.

Among the four statewide bond issues are Question 4 that would allocate $7.4 million out of $49 million in total state funding to the University of Maine at Presque Isle and University at Fort Kent to share for classroom and building renovations. Question 5 also would have a local impact if passed, giving Northern Maine Community College over $1 million out of $15 million for the Maine Community College System that would go toward infrastructural renovations and the expansion of academic programs and on-campus housing services.

Voters also faced decisions on the gubernatorial, 2nd District and U.S. Senate races.

Presque Isle resident Dick Engels said Tuesday that he was most anxious to vote on the City Council seats and the proposed SAD 1 bond.

Engels said he has voted in every election for more than 50 years because of how important voting is in ensuring democracy. He declined to reveal who he voted for in the state legislative races but shared his strategy.

“I voted for the candidate with the least obnoxious, negative ad on TV,” he said.

Janelle Humphrey, also of Presque Isle, said she was most anxious to vote for Question 4 to allow UMPI to expand classroom and laboratory space for its nursing program in partnership with UMFK. Humphrey is an administrative specialist for UMPI’s TRiO College Access Services program and also stated she wanted to vote for representatives who would be advocates for education at the state and national levels.

“Voting is important because it’s our civic duty and it’s how we express our opinions as citizens,” Humphrey said.

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