2016-10-21 / Front Page

District trustee will remain on ballot

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

Scarborough lost a dedicated member of the community who had spent nearly 30 years helping to oversee the Scarborough Sanitary District when longtime trustee David Nelson passed away earlier this month.

Nelson, who was vying for one of two trustee positions next month, passed away at 69 on Oct. 3.

“He was a wonderful man. His death hit me very personally. I’ve known him 20 some odd years through various capacities,” said Scarborough Sanitary District Superintendent David Hughes, who added Nelson “was very pragmatic, very logical, very conservative.”

“He wanted things done right. Not over the top, but just done right,” Hughes said.

“David’s service to the community was exemplary,” Scarborough Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors Chairman Kevin Freeman said at last week’s Candidates Night, an event the Chamber and Community Television puts on to help voters hear from the candidates they will be electing in November. Nelson’s untimely death, he added, “has cast a pall in the race.”

Per state law, because his death happened within 70 days of the election, Nelson’s name will remain on the ballot, but any vote cast for him will be counted as a blank vote.

“He’s on the ballot and because he passed away so close to the election, he could not be removed from the ballot,” Hughes said. “They had to insert something with the absentee ballots and at the polls place a note identifying he has passed away and a vote for him would not be counted.”

Hughes said it is possible that a write-in candidate could replace Nelson. Joe Carroll, Hughes said has expressed interest in serving as a trustee, but never officially put his name on the ballot.

“Since his death, one of our other trustees said he had been approached in the past by someone who was interested in becoming a trustee, but didn’t want to run against anyone. He said if (this person) was still interested and wanted run as a write-in candidate, he should do it,” Hughes said.

Carroll, a Black Point Road resident, is the captain of the Black Point Fire Company, training coordinator for Scarborough’s hazardous waste response team and a firefighter at the Pride’s Corner firehouse in Westbrook. Carroll has been with the Scarborough fire department since 2002 and the Westbrook fire department since 2005.

“I used to work for the Portland Water District (from 1998 to 2001). That was really my first exposure to wastewater and domestic water systems,” Carroll said. “I still keep in touch with some of those guys and have a great amount of respect for the work they do, the infrastructure and the importance of maintaining that.”

Carroll has thought about running for trustee for the sanitary district or Portland Water District, but the timing was never right. Although he said he’d rather run under better circumstances, he now has the time to devote to the position.

“They are definitely big shoes to fill. I can’t possibly recreate all of his knowledge,” Carroll said of Nelson. “Hopefully I can do some justice to the position for a little while.”

Scarborough Town Clerk Tody Justice confirmed last week that Carroll is officially running as a write-in candidate. Voters will have to list him as “Carroll, Joseph M.” for the vote to count.

“Not only would his name have to appear, but the oval would also need to be filled in for the vote to count,” Justice wrote in an email to the Leader.

Carroll does not need to get a certain amount of votes to win the seat, Justice said.

Aubrey Strause, a district engineer with Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District, is also running for one of the open seats. Strause, who lives on Dresser Road and had a professional working relationship with the sanitary district trustees, remembers Nelson fondly.

“I did have the fortune of knowing Dave for a while now. I first met him in 2006 as an engineer on a sanitary district project,” said Strause, who has been an environmental engineer since 1998 and focused on storm and wastewater since 2004.

Strause said Nelson had a way of never letting sanitary district meetings get boring.

“He had an incredible sense of humor. He was a prankster and always had a twinkle in his eye,” Strause said.

Strause said without a doubt Nelson will be missed by both his fellow trustees and the workers at the wastewater treatment plant across from Scarborough Beach State Park on Black Point Road.

“He has offered a lot of service to this town and should be remembered fondly in that way,” said town council candidate Annalee Rosenblatt.

It will not be easy to replace Nelson and the years of work he dedicated to the sanitary district. Freeman said “there is a big void to fill with his passing.”

Hughes, who has been Sanitary District Superintendent for the last few years, said Nelson “will sorely be missed.”

Nelson had been a trustee of the Scarborough Sanitary District for more than 25 years and served as its treasurer. He was also a member and past president of the Scarborough Lions Club.

Sanitary district trustees, who are elected by town voters, are in charge of making sure waste water is being properly collected and treated and the collection system, pump station and treatment system is maintained and managed. The district does not oversee private septic systems or water treatment. Water service is managed by Portland Water District and Maine Water, which services Biddeford, Saco and part of Scarborough.

Although elected by voters alongside councilors and board of education members, the Scarborough Sanitary District, located at 415 Black Point Road, is not an official town department. The district’s budget is funded by user fees and not through taxes. While users are taxpayers, not all taxpayers are users.

“We have no service west of the turnpike, so there is a large portion of the town we don’t service,” Hughes said.

Aside from his service to the local Scarborough community, Nelson also served his country as a member of the United States Navy, which included three deployments to Vietnam. His funeral service, held Oct. 10 at Black Point Congregational Church, included a flag service and the playing of “Taps,” a popular song to be played at military services. Nelson was also a longtime employee of Cat dealerships across the country, including 30 years at Milton Caterpillar.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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