Harrison Deah is running for the Windham Town Council’s East District seat because he believes in public service, and wants to give back to the town that has welcomed him and his family, and where he feels at home. “I have lived in Windham for the past five years, and my family and I have greatly benefited from the beauty and the rural setting this wonderful town enjoys. Windham is a nice, quiet town, a great place to raise kids,” he said. “Windham is growing, and I want to help the town manage that growth carefully.”
Born in Liberia, Deah and his family fled civil war when he was four or five years old. They sought refuge in Sierra Leone, but when the war moved there a year later, they continued on to Guinea, where they lived until 2001. That’s when the family resettled to Portland – 10 days after September 11, 2001. Deah attended Portland High School, then earned a double degree in history and political science from St. Joseph’s College. After graduation, he worked with Preble Street, the City of Portland, and then the City of Westbrook, where he was eventually promoted to Director of General Assistance and Social Services.
“My extensive background in government will serve me well if I am elected. I have worked with city councils before. I am used to creating and presenting budgets,” he said. He believes that development is one of the major challenges confronting Windham. “People are moving in and building subdivisions. We are second in the state in terms of net population gain. Especially with the pandemic, people are buying land to develop. We want to make sure any development that comes is the best fit for Windham. We want to develop the proper infrastructure to attract the development we want, take care of our senior citizens, … deal with the inevitable pressures which occur in growing and changing communities, while ensuring the town remains the best place it can be for families, businesses, and workers.”
Deah is running on accountability. He said many locals complain that a select few in leadership positions are making decisions. Recently, when a councilor abruptly resigned, people said that an interim councilor was selected without citizen involvement, which increased the feeling that transparency is an issue in government. “We have to put the interests of the town at the heart of every decision we make,” Deah said. “If we do, we’ll be better off.”
As an Independent, Deah said, “I vote on the issues, rather than the party. Neither party has a monopoly on good and bad ideas. … If I’m on the council, I’ll listen to the issue first, take the entire picture into account, think about whether something is beneficial to the Town of Windham. I will look at things issue by issue, and separate out party and identity politics, and ego, and personal identity. Councilors are there to serve.”
Deah is married, with two children, ages four and 14. He chose to live in Windham because he became fond of the town during his years at St. Joseph’s.