Lincoln County voters will have at least four easy decisions on the ballot in November, as four county office-holders run for re-election unopposed.
Sheriff Todd B. Brackett, D-Nobleboro; Register of Probate Catherine H. Moore, R-Jefferson; Treasurer Richard H. Newell Jr., R-Newcastle; and Register of Deeds Rebecca S. Wotton are seeking re-election for four-year terms.
Brackett is running for his fifth consecutive term as sheriff. When he completes his next term, he will have been sheriff for 20 years.
“I think our biggest challenge right now is trying to keep pace with our drug issue and the challenges that it brings,” he said during an interview in his office Thursday, Aug. 23.
Another challenge is adapting to technological changes in investigative work. Almost every investigation the agency conducts now involves technology, like cellphones or social media.
“We’re quicker now to do search warrants and to obtain information from some sort of computer-based device than we are to get fingerprints,” Brackett said.
Brackett started his career in law enforcement as a corrections officer with the Kennebec County Jail and worked as a patrol deputy in Kennebec County from 1986-1988.
He was a Lincoln County sheriff’s deputy from 1988-1998 and the chief of police in Damariscotta from 1998 until his election as sheriff in 2002.
“I look forward to coming to work,” Brackett said. “I embrace the challenges of it.”
“Law enforcement is my passion,” he said. “I believe it’s my calling.”
Brackett coaches the Lincoln Academy varsity golf team, serves as treasurer of the Maine Sheriffs Association, and volunteers with his wife at the Free Clothing Closet in Waldoboro.
He and his wife have five children and six grandchildren between them.
Moore is seeking her second term as register of probate.
Each county in Maine has a probate court. Probate courts handle adoptions, estates, guardianships for adults and minors, name changes, and other matters.
The register of probate is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the probate court and maintains records as required by state law.
Moore began working for the county in 2006, in the registry of deeds. She soon transferred to the probate office, where she worked as a clerk and later as deputy register.
In November 2014, she was elected register of probate in a three-way race of write-in candidates.
Moore said she enjoys her work in the probate office, particularly meeting and serving the people who come into the office.
“We see people at sad times in their lives,” Moore said, such as when they must deal with estate matters after the loss of a family member.
“We also see them at happy times in their lives, when adopting a child into their family,” Moore said. “We in the office share in their grief as well as their joy.”
Moore is a 1989 graduate of Lincoln Academy and has an associate degree in business. She and her husband, Matt, live in Jefferson.
Besides her passion for her work, she tends a 60-by-60-foot garden. She cans and freezes much of the harvest. “Gardening is my relaxation,” she said.
The register of probate’s office is open daily from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Probate court is in session every Wednesday.
Newell is running for his third term as treasurer.
Newell has almost 30 years of experience in banking. He graduated from Thomas College in Waterville with an associate degree in banking.
He has worked as a bank teller, branch manager, commercial loan officer, and more at banks in Maine. His first job was as a bank teller at the First National Bank of Damariscotta, where he was eventually promoted to vice president and commercial loan officer. His last job in banking was at Rockland Savings Bank, where he mostly worked as a loan officer.
Newell has retired from banking. In addition to his county post, he is a pastor for two churches: Newcastle-Alna Baptist Church and Christ Church, both in Alna.
He is a native of Lincoln County and graduated from Lincoln Academy.
As county treasurer, Newell must pay the county’s bills as directed by the county commissioners, follow the county’s budget to make sure it is on target, and give a report to county commissioners at their twice-monthly meetings.
The part-time treasurer works alongside the county’s full-time finance office.
“My third term will probably be my last one,” Newell said. He said three terms is sufficient.
One of the biggest improvements since Newell’s first term, he said, has been the quality of employees hired, including County Administrator Carrie Kipfer and Finance Director Michelle Cearbaugh.
“Financially the county is in a better spot than it has been,” Newell said. “We are building up our cash reserves, so that we don’t have to resort to borrowed funds as much.”
Wotton is running for a third term as register of deeds.
Wotton has worked at the Lincoln County Registry of Deeds office, at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Wiscasset, for 25 years, first as a clerk, then as deputy register for about seven years before becoming register.
As register, she is responsible for receiving and maintaining the county’s property records, such as deeds and foreclosures.
She grew up in Pemaquid and lives in Bristol with her husband and youngest son, who will be a freshman at Lincoln Academy this fall. Wotton’s two older sons also live in Bristol, and are commercial fishermen. She has an identical twin sister who still lives in Pemaquid.
Wotton has followed in her grandmother’s footsteps. Her grandmother worked in the registry of deeds as a clerk in the 1970s, then deputy register and register in the 1980s. She remembers visiting her grandmother at the courthouse.
“When I’m looking at an old document, occasionally I’ll see her signature or come across a piece of paper with her handwriting, so it’s fun to think back,” Wotton said.
One significant project the registry of deeds is working on is making the office’s electronic index go back to the beginning of the county, from 1761 to the present day.
The index currently goes back to 1900. Wotton hopes the rest of the index will be complete within the next year.
The office is working on scanning in documents, and so far has scanned documents from 1960 to the present. The documents can be accessed at lincolncountymaine.me/deeds.
The office also began accepting electronic filings about six years ago, according to Wotton.
“It’s changed every aspect of how we do our work,” Wotton said. “We have attorneys who use the e-filing system rather than driving to Wiscasset to record, so having those indexes available for them without having to drive to Wiscasset is huge.”
Partly due to electronic filing, the office has become smaller in terms of both employees and physical space, according to Wotton.
“When I first started working here, there were seven people in the office, and now we’re down to three,” she said.
The deeds office moved to a smaller space on the first floor of the courthouse in March 2017, switching places with the district attorney’s office.
(Charlotte Boynton, Jessica Clifford, J.W. Oliver, and Jessica Picard contributed to this article.)