2013-10-25 / Front Page

Election 2013

Mayor, others seek South Portland City Council seats

Four residents are running for two at-large seats on the South Portland City Council. Mayor Tom Blake is running for re-election, but incumbent Alan Livingston is not seeking another term. Absentee ballots may be requested until 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31 by calling the city clerk’s office at 767-7601. The deadline to return absentee ballots is 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 5. The survey responses are listed in alphabetical order.

Name: Maxine R. Beecher
Age: 70
Address: 1359 Highland Ave.
Family: Married to Ed Beecher; two sons, Eddie

married to Kelly and Jeff married to Julie; six
grandchildren: Sarah, Jessica, Allison,
Caeli, Sydney and Alex

Prior political experience: One term on the board of education in the early ‘80s; council, three terms 2003- 2012; mayor, 2005-2006

Volunteer/community involvement: Actively involved in substance abuse prevention 1980s through 2013; Unwanted Medication Collection project; chairman, Zoning Improvements Committee 2005-07; chairman, Comprehensive Plan 2008-2012. Recent awards: Maine Citizen Planner of the Year 2013 and New England Citizen Planner of the Year 2013

Why are you running for office: I want to make a difference. I think my experiences and my ability to work collaboratively will help South Portland move forward. I want this community to be a place where families come to raise and educate their children. I want folks to come here to work, to recreate, to shop and have access to the beach. I will work to grow our arts community and to welcome a diverse population across our city. Seniors matter, too. They need to feel welcome and they need opportunities to volunteer and interact with others. We need to be mindful of tax increases and their impact on our neighbors. I see my task is to make South Portland a people place as well as a destination. As a city councilor I can make a difference.

Church Church Do you support the Waterfront Protection Ordinance for the city of South Portland? How do you see your role as a councilor in responding to citizens’ decision on the ordinance (whatever that may be)?

No, I can’t support the WPO as its wording is inconsistent to the waterfront chapters in the adopted 2012 South Portland Comprehensive Plan. The planning board agrees. The comprehensive plan acknowledges and supports the continuation of our working waterfront, one of maritime and petroleum use. The WPO as written actually begins to stop all that. I believe this initiative, the WPO, can do much harm to our working waterfront with the jobs it supports and the tax dollars it brings in. It has already split this community with its leaders’ words of broad, loosely worded scare tactics (thick tar loaded with sand being pushed through old pipes and huge smoke stacks billowing nasty fumes and caustic smoke sitting on Bug Light Park) ordinance language.

I see my role as a councilor as one where somehow we bring this community back together. The bottom line is that the people’s will have spoken so let’s wait to see the election outcome. I think lawsuits will prevail whether it passes or loses. If the vote is for passage I would certainly be supportive of the courts deciding whether this WPO is consistent with the comprehensive plan. If it does or doesn’t pass at election, we need to meet with citizens and work out some ordinance or rules that can meet their concerns. Once that legal decision comes down, the next steps will have to be carefully decided. I would wait on further comment and actions until the court’s rulings come down.

Do you support the proposal to construct a new public works facility off Highland Avenue in South Portland? Why/why not?

I do support the move of the municipal services facility from O’Neil Street to Highland Avenue. I chair the citizens group that is working to this outcome. The O’Neil Street complex is sitting in an A Residential Zone. The neighbors to it are constantly bombarded with the beep-beep of the safety backup sounds, as well as the sounds of vehicles warming up. Then there is the traffic from buses to dump trucks to other equipment trying to exit and enter O’Neil Street from the middle of the Holy Cross/ Reds intersection. Then there is the safety of our personnel. As it is, there is no correct lift to make working under huge trucks and buses safe or healthy for (workers’) backs. We all want our equipment – whether it is a fire truck, bus, dump truck or police cars – to last longer. This proposed complex at Highland will have lifts and a big truck wash that can clean even our largest fire truck. Salt eats the vehicles, especially the undersides. My final yes vote has to do with the financing of the project. Yes, it will cost $14 million, but fortunately for us taxpayers we won’t start paying until 2017 and then only seven cents on $1,000 of tax assessment. The next year, 2018, it would drop to two cents. Then (2019) when two bonds are off the city rolls, that money will pay the principal plus interest on this facility bond. So the stars are aligned. It is time.

Name: Thomas Blake
Age: 62
Address: 195 High St.

Family: Married to Dee Dee Blake for 39 years; four daughters and 13 grandchildren

Prior political experience: Twoterm city councilor at large and twotime mayor; six years on Steering and Executive Committees for Greater Portland Council of Government; member of SP Comprehensive Planning Committee 1988-1992

Volunteer/community involvement: Twenty-six-year firefighter/paramedic for South Portland Fire Department and past president Local 1476, South Portland Professional Firefighters; past president Ferry Village Neighborhood Conservation Association; past president South Portland Land Trust; past chairman of West End Trails, current member Trails Advisory Group

Why are you running for office: It has been a blessing to live in SP for my entire life. Our great city has played a major role in enabling my wife and I to raise a wonderful family. Spending 26 years with the South Portland Fire Department has given me the opportunity to know our city, its people and its resources. I have felt humbled to serve our people and businesses for the past six years as a councilor at large and twice as your mayor. The strong work ethic I learned from my parents has kept me involved in our community in many ways. I have truly enjoyed working with our children while promoting a solid educational system. I constantly seek the feelings of our people and promote maximum transparency. Improving communications and promoting a strong and diverse economy for South Portland has been a top priority. Our economy is very healthy and working with all parties we were able to keep our tax increase at 1.2 percent this year, one of the lowest in the Greater Portland area. South Portland is full of wonderful people, a solid business base, and by working together we can continue to make South Portland a sustainable and desirable community to live, work and recreate.

Do you support the Waterfront Protection Ordinance for the city of South Portland? How do you see your role as a councilor in responding to citizens’ decision on the ordinance (whatever that may be)?

Yes, I do support the Waterfront Protection Ordinance. I see the ordinance as a health and safety issue for our community. South Portland has a heavy petroleum presence with approximately 100 storage tanks, over 9,000 feet of shoreland dedicated to terminals, hundreds of thousands of oil trucks traveling annually through our residential neighborhoods and, at any time, up to 350 million gallons of petroleum products in storage. Our people accept the current condition, a condition that will be severely compromised with the oil industries’ intent to bring the world’s dirtiest oil through our community. This ordinance is the only tool we have to stop tar sands from flowing through our neighborhoods. I feel this is a very reasonable request to protect the health and safety of our citizens and our shoreland. I am convinced no jobs will be lost and no businesses will be closed. Regardless of the outcome on Nov. 5, I look forward to working with all parties to reach a consensus for a healthy and strong economy for our future. I will be the first in line to work with our petroleum leaders as we move to cleaner energies and the development of a platform to build a strong and sustainable economic future for South Portland. This is not about us today, but about our children and the environment that they will reside in.

Do you support the proposal to construct a new public works facility off Highland Avenue in South Portland? Why/why not?

Yes, I support the construction of the new facility. The current facility is outdated, inefficient and unsafe while being in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Being more centrally located, the new location will decrease transportation costs, as well as increase the life of our vehicles by providing coverage and up-todate maintenance opportunities. By consolidating our transportation, parks, and public works departments, we can improve efficiencies and intimately decrease operating expenses. The newer complex will be more efficient and is designed to be LEED certifiable. We are exploring the option to build a solar farm adjacent to the site that will put us on a path to have some city vehicles at the complex be energized by a renewable energy source. We have worked hard and designed the project in two phases to minimize the tax impact on our residents.

Name: Richard Matthews
Age: 47
Address: 17 Boothby Ave.
Family: Married to Cheryl, three kids

Prior political experience: South Portland School Board, 2009-present

Volunteer/community involvement: South Portland High School Building Committee; South Portland National Little League player agent; youth sports coach at community center; youth group teacher at Peoples Methodist

Why are you running for office: I want to serve our city and help keep us a great community. I have served on the school board just about four years, and I know I can help the communication process between the board and the council. I believe South Portland has so much potential, and I want to help our leaders to bring out the best in our city and make us stronger. We, as a city, recently were named a business-friendly place, and I know that I want to be part of bringing more business and continue to have our citizens get the great services that we are able to provide.

Do you support the Waterfront Protection Ordinance for the city of South Portland? How do you see your role as a councilor in responding to citizens’ decision on the ordinance (whatever that may be)? I am sensitive to both sides and I am more concerned with how our citizens and community are affected by the confusion over the ordinance. I believe the situation went too far, and compromise could have played a major role in this whole process. I will do what is best for the city and our people as a councilor. I also believe if there is trouble with interpretation before it’s a law it could quite possibly be worse after it passes.

Do you support the proposal to construct a new public works facility off Highland Avenue in South Portland? Why/why not?

I do support the new public works facility. I believe the new plan is good for our city. Public works is a big part of our city and keeping it a great, beautiful, safe community. I think building a new facility will help with the upkeep of our equipment and keep our workers safe and allow for a much better process while retiring old debt.

Name: Carol Thorne
Age: 66
Address: 96 Sandy Hill Road
Family: Married, two grown children, three

Prior political experience: None

Volunteer/community involvement: South Portland Planning Board; city committees: Project Plan, Ordinance Committees—Telecommunication Towers, Noise, Shipyard(S), Spring Point (SP), Ad Hoc Committee on Board Relations, Blue Ribbon on Board Compensation.

Other: Sweetser Board of Directors and chairwoman of the Sweetser Sold On Kids Benefit Auction; South Portland First Congregational Church Holiday Bazaar Luncheon.

Why are you running for office: I came to South Portland from Texas in 1967 with my husband, who was born and raised here. I have been a resident of South Portland for a total of 30 years. From 1996-2011, I served on the South Portland Planning Board, and I got to know many people from all walks of life in our city. Recently, I realized I wanted to continue serving my community.

I believe our city has many outstanding features, and the one way I can work to preserve those features and create new ones is to serve on the highest citizen board in our city. With two, at-large seats to be filled, I feel I will bring fresh ideas and views to the citizens of South Portland. My years on the planning board taught me to have an open mind, to do my research and educate myself in order to make good, informed decisions. I also learned to look at the “big picture” and how my decisions would affect South Portland, not only in the present, but in the future, knowing not all would agree.

My goal is to see continued growth and prosperity. We have created many great things, including Mill Creek/ Knightville revitalization, neighborhood associations, our new stormwater regulations and our newly created comprehensive plan, to name a few. I look forward to being a councilor and helping to make South Portland the best city in the state.

Do you support the Waterfront Protection Ordinance for the city of South Portland? How do you see your role as a councilor in responding to citizens’ decision on the ordinance (whatever that may be)?

I do not support the Waterfront Protection Ordinance. I feel it is poorly written and is much too broad and contradictory and makes no mention of “tar sands.”

In regard to how I would see my role as a councilor, should the proposed ordinance pass and become law, the Planning and Development Department will be responsible for interpreting the language of the WPO. Should an application be submitted they would submit their interpretations to the planning board for its decisions and implementation. The city council has no part in interpreting the ordinances.

If it is defeated, as a councilor I would request that the council explore whether an ordinance addressing tar sands oil should be created by organizing a committee of planning and development staff, citizens and stakeholders to draft an explicit workable ordinance.

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