On Tuesday, June 8, Waldoboro voters will choose among three candidates for two three-year terms on the RSU 40 Board of Directors.
Incumbent Sandra O’Farrell is running for reelection. Karen Wellman and Jeanette Wheeler are first-time candidates for the board.
The polls will be open for in-person voting at the town office, 1600 Atlantic Highway, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday, June 8. Residents can register to vote up to and on election day.
To request an absentee ballot, call the town clerk’s office at 832-5369. The deadline to request an absentee ballot by phone is 5 p.m., Thursday, June 3. Absentee ballots can be requested in person up to 8 p.m. on the day of the election.
Sandra O’Farrell is originally from Boston, but has lived in Maine for 45 years and in Waldoboro for 24.
She attended Boston University, but started working at the First National Bank of Boston before completing her degree. She worked as an accountant for H & R Block, in an administrative position for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and as a liaison for veterans at the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services before retiring.
O’Farrell has been married to James for 45 years. She has two sons, a stepdaughter, and 14 grandchildren. She enjoys camping, kayaking, and volunteering in the community.
She has served on the Waldoboro Budget Committee and has been involved with the Waldoboro Free Clothing Closet for the last four years. She has served as assistant treasurer for the Waldoboro Lions Club and will begin a term as king lion in July.
O’Farrell has served on the school board since 2008. During her time on the board, she has served on the finance committee, policy committee, and budget committee, and has chaired the maintenance and facilities committee.
O’Farrell said she has learned that board members represent the whole district — not just the town. While she will funnel concerns or issues to the board, her focus is wider and encompasses all the children in RSU 40’s five towns. She said she is proud of her work on an anti-bullying committee, where she organized a 5K run to bring awareness to the topic.
“Nowadays, with parents working, it’s hard — so a community raises a child,” she said. She thinks there are certain needs a community should provide for its children, including housing, nutrition, and education.
O’Farrell wants to continue to work with the board to move students past the pandemic. “I want to make sure we’re back on track after COVID,” she said. “I’ve done this for years and I’d like to follow through. There’s a year there that’s elapsed — the kids suffered for it.”
Karen Wellman was born and raised in Waldoboro. She attended the Friendship Street School, A.D. Gray School, and Medomak Valley High School.
After high school, Wellman started out shucking clams before she moved to Louisiana, where she worked as a quality control technician at Sunbelt Supply, a manufacturer of plastic pipe. When she returned to Maine, she worked in Brunswick as a machine operator at Cooper Wiring and as a secretary running the office at Wall Works flooring and blinds. She is now retired.
Wellman was a member of the American Legion Auxiliary in Louisiana. She has volunteered with both the Lincoln County and Waldoboro Republican parties. A dog lover, she has also volunteered with a local animal shelter.
Wellman is one of eight children. She has a daughter and two grandchildren, and watches her grandson three days a week. She enjoys getting together with family.
Wellman said she is interested in being a member of the school board because she would like to know what her nieces and nephews, as well as her grandson, are being taught.
Wellman said she is worried they won’t get the right education and that “this new critical race theory” is being pushed too hard.
Critical race theory is a group of ideas dating back to the mid-1970s that, according to Education Week, a resource for K-12 education news and information, “presupposes that racism is embedded within society and institutions.”
Wellman said she would tell the board that critical race theory “is dividing our country — students shouldn’t have to be ashamed of who they are.” She also said that she thinks politics should be kept out of the schools.
Wellman said she would like to see a return to “the old math” and to teaching skills such as balancing a checkbook. “I would try to get my input through to them,” she said of the board. “I know it’s going to be hard, but I’m going to try.”
Wellman described herself as outspoken. “I don’t let people push me around,” she said.
Jeanette Wheeler moved to Waldoboro from Colorado 43 years ago. “As my husband likes to say, we’re permanent summer residents,” she said.
Wheeler completed 1 1/2 years of college, studying elementary education, before she met “this wonderful, handsome rancher” and moved to the mountains of Colorado to become a rancher’s wife.
Wheeler’s job history started with working in the tobacco fields of North Carolina when she was 16. While she has experience with retail sales and worked for a while at a small preschool in Waldoboro, most of her time has been spent ranching and farming.
Wheeler has been active in church, playing the organ for the Bremen Union Church and teaching Sunday school at the West Waldoboro Community Church.
Wheeler has been involved with the Lincoln County and Waldoboro Republicans and was elected the state committeewoman for the Lincoln County Republican Party for seven years.
Wheeler volunteered with Kno-Wal-Lin Home Care and Hospice, helping out with events for the organization for 18 years. She was the secretary and treasurer for the Waldoboro American Legion Auxiliary for a year. She is active with the Collie Club of Maine, where she works to educate people on how to find reputable breeders.
Wheeler said that with a large share of property taxes going to RSU 40, she wants to be more involved. “I want to see every child get a quality education,” she said.
Wheeler feels that schools have lost an emphasis on educating children in English, history, math, and science. She said these need to be brought back “so these kids can stay in Maine and have a future.”
Wheeler said she would push the importance of debate while eliminating indoctrination — she said that schools should teach children how to think as opposed to what to think.
She is in favor of leaving political and religious teachings out of the classroom. “You’re there to educate the children, not to indoctrinate them,” she said.
“I see opportunity that I haven’t seen in years to have an impact in bringing our school system back to reading, writing, and arithmetic,” Wheeler said. “There are enough people of like mind to perhaps make a difference.”