4 candidates vie for 2 seats on FF council at crucial time for the town
FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — Four candidates will vie for two open seats on Fort Fairfield’s Town Council this November.
Patricia Canavan, Justin Hersey, Stev Rogeski and Keith Thibeau are seeking to replace outgoing councilors Melissa Libby and Mitch Butler, whose terms expire at the end of this year. Both Libby and Butler opted not to run again.
The elected councilors will join Chairperson Robert Kilcollins and Fort Fairfield’s newest councilors Kevin Pelletier and Jim Ouellette, both of whom were elected in 2021.
The next elected officials will come onboard during a time of significant financial struggles for the town. Newly appointed Interim Town Manager Dan Foster recently revealed that Fort Fairfield is more than a million dollars in debt, which has led to the most significant tax rate increase in years.
The future councilors will play key roles in navigating budget negotiations with departments and the newly formed budget advisory committee. They also will help determine the fate of local ambulance service, which residents had long criticized for its role in budget increases.
Fort Fairfield’s municipal elections will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, in the town’s community center gymnasium at 18 Community Center Drive.
All candidates were asked the same questions. In alphabetical order, here are the candidates and their responses.
Patricia A. Canavan
Age: No answer
Party Affiliation: Not applicable
Why are you running for town council? I am running for a position on the town council because I want to make a difference. I live and work in this town and I love the richness of its history and the promise of the future if citizens become involved and active to change the direction it is headed in. I firmly believe that in order to make change, you have to be involved. Our town is facing challenges that are difficult to be certain. But I believe that determination, new ideas and energy, as well as using the resources we have, will bring about success and progress while maintaining fiscal responsibility and respect for taxpayers and the financial burdens they are facing with the daily rising costs in uncertain economic conditions.
Education: I have a master’s degree in social work from the University of New England.
Employment: I am currently employed as a clinical supervisor for Community Health and Counseling Services and plan to retire from there at the end of this year. I am also a proud 13-year small business owner of One of A Kind Flowers and Antiques. I enjoy doing business in this town and plan to enjoy many years in my second career as your florist and antique dealer. I was a founding partner of Central Aroostook Psychiatric Services and have served on several boards.
Family: Like many in Aroostook, I grew up in a farming family. My grandparents owned a farm in Fort Fairfield and then moved to Presque Isle where I grew up with my extended family in farming. My father is a Korean War veteran who resides in Caribou at the Maine Veterans Home. My husband recently passed away. We had no children.
What are the top three priorities you wish to address if elected? My first priority is getting back on track with the town’s budget. There are some difficult choices to be made and I feel it can be done responsibly and fairly. I do not pretend to be an expert in municipal budgeting, and I have a lot to learn. My second priority is growth and development. In order to make progress in town, we need to start putting back what we have taken away, torn down and lost. We have a depleted tax base that places a huge burden on taxpayers. We need a new, active economic development board that encourages small businesses and industry and plans to support them. Lastly, I want to make safety a priority. We need to be safe from crime, safe to receive services we need and our children need to be safe while growing and learning to be part of our town.
Party Affiliation: Republican
Why are you running for town council? I am running for town council because I want to see Fort Fairfield back to how it was when I was a kid. I want to help bring businesses back to town and make Fort Fairfield a place where people want to move to — a place where our children can stay, raise a family and make a life. I want to do my part in making Fort Fairfield a prosperous town and be there for the town residents. I started a business in Fort Fairfield in 2017 and I have gained valuable knowledge and skills that I can use in the town council member position. My personal and business experiences make me a great fit to be a town council member.
Education: High school diploma and two years of business classes at Northern Maine Community College.
Employment: Owner of JJ’s Redemption in Fort Fairfield and a slasher operator at Huber in Easton.
Family: I live in Fort Fairfield with my wife Amanda and our 10-year-old daughter Jayden.
What are the top three priorities you wish to address if elected? Infrastructure and facilities, a well-rounded budget and economic development.
Candidate did not provide responses.
Keith E. Thibeau II
Party Affiliation: Republican
Why are you running for town council? After watching our taxes go up at an astronomical rate over the past four years, I felt it was my time to stand up and make a difference. I would like to see the Town Council work cooperatively with our new, interim town manager to get our town back on solid financial ground.
Education: Fort Fairfield High School, 2005-2009
Employment: Self-employed potato farmer
Family: My family has been in town for six generations, making me a sixth-generation farmer.
What are the top three priorities you wish to address if elected? Reducing the outstanding debt the town is carrying, restructuring our existing services in town so they meet the needs of our citizens at a cost that is affordable to all and making the town attractive to new families and business.