HOPE – Bruce Haffner is running for re-election to the Select Board in Hope in June.

Also running for Select Board are Charles Weidman and Michael Schultz. Schultz did not respond to our email questionnaire.

Haffner has been known for his strong opinions, especially about roads and snowplowing budgets. He has advocated during his term on the board for creating a town public works department to do this work rather than contracting the work out. He argues it would be cheaper to buy trucks and hire employees to do some of this work than paying a contractor. Other town officials are concerned about the costs of buying vehicles, pay and benefits for employees, and the need for a town garage among other concerns with the plan.

In June 2021, he was the subject of a recall election.

The petition to remove Haffner stated that he betrayed the trust placed in him in his position when: “He took it upon himself to undercut a majority Select Board decision on the roads budget because he disliked the outcome and so passed out misleading and unattributed flyers in a failed effort to have budget (sic) voted down,” and “He was caught on audio specifically threatening two elected town officials and a female town employee over whom he holds a supervisory role.”

It also states, “e-mails presented in the December 8th (2020) Select Board meeting indicate that he is an active participant in efforts to smear the town administrator and undermine confidence in town government.”

Finally, the petition document states he discussed confidential personnel issues in public even though he had been warned not to.

The audio is a recording that was made of Haffner talking to Mike Ames on the phone without Haffner knowing it was being recorded, right before the election in 2020 in which the roads budget would be decided. Haffner said at one point, “The deck was stacked against me from the beginning, and I’m going to take these guys down.”

Ames asked who he was talking about.

Haffner answered Town Administrator Samantha Mank, then Select Board Vice Chair Brian Powers and Road Commissioner John Monroe.

Haffner has argued that he meant taking them down in the political context, defeating them at the polls, not physically threatening them.

Haffner’s term on the Select Board survived the recall effort. Townspeople split evenly on whether to recall him in the June 8 election with a vote of 128 to 128. He notes that was not really a close vote, however, since the vote did not require a simple majority, but a certain percentage of the votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election.

We asked him and the other candidates some questions concerning this year’s election:

Camden Herald: Why are you running?

Haffner: To modernize how we manage our roads.

CH: How long have you lived in Hope?

H: I started visiting Hope two or three times a year in 2004. My wife and I loved Hope so much we moved here full time in 2016.

CH: What is your profession, career (if retired, what did you used to do)

H: I’m a trained economist and have an MBA from Northwestern University. I’ve worked as a purchasing agent, research analyst, salesman and currently as a chess coach.

CH: What committees or boards have you served on in the past if any?

H: I’m currently serving my first term as Hope selectman. I’ve been on church and chess organization boards and I’m currently on the Hope Roads committee.

CH: What would be your top priority if elected as a Select Board member?

H: Hire a top-notch analytical firm to determine the best practices for managing our roads and how to implement them.

CH: What do you see as the greatest challenges facing the town of Hope?

H: Town management has been locked in to doing what we’ve done in the past, perhaps because we are afraid of change. The result is a roads budget that is out of control. We need to reach out to towns around us and see what they’re doing. We need to use engineers who could help us establish specifications and design projects so we don’t make costly mistakes. Selectboard members need to ensure residents get the best roads for the lowest cost and get serious about reducing taxes.

CH: What do you like about living in Hope?

H: Hope is a beautiful town: I love our hills, lakes (and loons!), stone walls, fields, trees and amazing scenery. We have great schools for our children. Clarence runs one of the best small town volunteer fire departments in Maine. We are close to wonderful oceanfront towns with art galleries, shops, restaurants and cultural events. My wife and I love walking/hiking with our dogs, swimming in our lakes and cross country skiing. Hope residents are proud to live here and always interested in ways to make Hope better.