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Union candidates go head to head, Drickey to be replaced

By Christine Simmonds | Jun 29, 2020
From left: Bill Lombardi, Greg Grotton, Jim Justice, Martha Johnston-Nash

Union — Union municipal elections will be held July 14, and will feature two Selectman seats.

Martha Johnston-Nash and James Justice will be on the ballot for a two-year term to expire June 2022.

Sarah Drickey, the current Selectman in this position, is not seeking reelection.

Greg Grotton and Bill Lombardi will be on the ballot for a three-year term to expire June, 2023.

Grotton is the incumbent currently in this position.

Johnston-Nash grew up in Washington and attended Union High School. She has lived in Knox County all but one year of her life.

Johnston-Nash currently owns a business in Union, Crowning Touch Embroidery. Before that, she worked at Wayfarer Marine in Camden for fifteen years, where she was the administrative manager and performed some paralegal duties. She has also been a member of the Union Chamber of Commerce, where she has served as Secretary and President, and continues to be a member of the board.

Johnston-Nash said she gained a lot of experience from each business she worked with, and feels her background makes her qualified to work on the board.

“I have an interest in representing the people in Union,” she said.

Justice has been an active part of the Union community since 1960. “I just love it,” he said of the town.

Justice was a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician for Union, as well as a volunteer for the fire department, aided by his training as a Naval medic.

Justice has also been a part of many committees, including the Veteran’s Committee, Founder’s Day and the Union Fair, as well as a number of smaller projects. “If people ask me for help, I help,” he said.

Justice was previously a member of the Board of Selectmen for fifteen years, and acted as Chair for four years. He said he has rarely missed a board meeting.

“I like to know what is going on in town,” he said.

Lombardi has lived in Union since 2013, and calls himself “a professional decision maker.”

He worked in the financial services industry for more than 25 years before retiring to own and operate a business with his wife.

Currently, they run a farm in Union, where they grow for a farm stand and three local food pantries.

Lombardi was previously the chair of a finance committee in Massachusetts and assisted in putting together the budget. “I am familiar with how governments work and how a town works,” he said.

Lombardi feels one of his greatest strengths is being a good listener. “I really believe in outreach to the taxpayer” he said, adding that outreach is important to know what is on the mind of community members.

Grotton was raised in Union and returned to the town after serving more than 20 years in the military.

In 1989, Grotton was hired to manage the Knox County Regional Airport. During his 14 years there, he worked with a variety of county officials.

After retiring from that position due to health concerns, Grotton continued working on projects for Union. He has organized ceremonies for Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, was instrumental in starting a veteran’s monument in Union Common, and continues to look for “beautification projects” he can complete for the town.

Grotton is the current chair of the board, and said his biggest concern was communication. He recently started a website to improve outreach, and said it has been very helpful during the pandemic.

All candidates felt that the Thompson Community Center and the Depot Street sidewalk project were important issues.

Johnston-Nash led the TCC committee. She said the building is not making enough money to continue the way it is currently being run, and that voter input is important in moving forward with that and the sidewalk.

Justice said it is important that residents know the truth about these two projects before voting. He has worked to update town sidewalks and roads in the past, and has many ideas about how to accomplish these goals.

Lombardi said the sidewalk has been “an ongoing thorn in everyone’s side.” He would like to see a resolution to that issue, as no one seems happy about it. He added he wants to create more inclusion in town.

Grotton said “something has to be done” about the TCC, but repairing it would be very expensive for the town.

He said the state needs to do a study before the town would know more about the sidewalk project.

Johnston-Nash decided to run for Selectman for a variety of reasons. She has spent time in the past few years talking with residents about current events and issues before the board. She said some residents have been unhappy with board decisions.

Johnston-Nash said she will be in close contact with the locals, which will help her represent them and ask questions that need to be asked to run the town.

“I love the people here,” she said.

Justice originally ran for the position because he thought there were no other candidates, and he did not want the seat to be empty. When he discovered he was not the only one running, he decided to stay in the race anyway.

“I’m not out campaigning,” Justice said, though he has put up some campaign signs. His signs utilize what he called his personal motto, "Don’t forget, Justice is for all!"

Lombardi chose to run because he is service-oriented and wants to help build his community. He said he has volunteered everywhere he has lived.

“The strength of a community is outreach and listening,” he said, and added that Union needs to listen more to its taxpayers and voters.

Lombardi said not everyone has the time or ability attend Board of Selectmen meetings, and wondered how the town was hearing those people.

Grotton has been a member of the board for more than 10 years. He decided to run for reelection to accomplish more goals he has for the town.

Grotton said the board has been working on a way to put the meetings on video, and will continue to work toward that goal. He said people frequently reach out to him to discuss issues of concern even if they cannot attend board meetings.

Union candidates forum
(Video by: Christine Simmonds and Zack Miller)
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