2015-09-11 / Front Page

Ballots set in Cape and SoPo

By Duke Harrington
Staff Writer

If voters in South Portland and Cape Elizabeth show a lack of interest in municipal elections come Nov. 3, it won’t be because they lack choices.

Cape Elizabeth, in particular, has drawn a competitive field, with seven candidates qualifying to compete for three open seats on the town council. The race for three open spots on the school board also will be one to watch, with four newcomers vying for favor.

The school board races in South Portland are less interesting, with only one race drawing a challenge to the incumbent. However, there will be a horse race for both open seats on the city council.

South Portland

In South Portland, residents can vote in all five district races. However, candidates must reside in the district they hope to represent. In District 3, which covers much of the central part of the city, Councilor Melissa Linscott is calling it a career after a single term in office. She did not return voice or email messages asking why she’s chosen to bow out. Hoping to replace her are Buchanan Street resident Eben Rose and Ernest Stanhope Jr. of Fessenden Avenue.

Rose became a familiar face at council meetings during the city’s debate over “tar sands,” and made news more recently when he raised questions about a proposed propane storage facility at Rigby Yard, pointing out the concept, as presented, did not meet city zoning regulations.

A self-described “former academic” with a background in geology, Rose now owns and operates Southern Maine Tile and Grout with his wife.

“I think there’s been a raising of consciousness within the city, as many of us who were interested in the tar sands episode began to lift the hood on city government and see how the gears mesh,” he said of his interest to now run for city council. “I do have an interest in what can be done at the local level. Even though we are saturated by the drama of it in the media, the federal government can seem very high and distant. I think there is much more that we can do on the local level, where we can connect to where people are and how they live.”

Stanhope is co-owner of Embers Stoves & Fireplaces, located at 581 Main St.

“I am running because I grew up here, raised my family here, and my business is here,” he said. “I want to give back and serve the community that has treated me well for the past 33 years and be a voice for all the small businesses in this community.”

School board Chairman Richard Matthews also took out papers to run for the District 3 council seat, but with no one stepping up replace him on the school board, returned nomination papers for his old spot instead.

“I was undecided what office I would run for,” he said. “I chose the school board at this time because I have younger kids still in the school system and I feel that I could be an asset and continue helping to build our school system.”

In District 4, which includes the south side of Thornton Heights, Mayor Linda Cohen of Tamarack Drive hopes to return to a second term on the council. To do so, she’ll have to defeat Boysenberry Drive resident Andrew Snyder.

Cohen, a former city clerk in both South Portland and Portland, is the assistant vice president and branch manager of the Mill Creek location for Bangor Savings Bank.

“I decided to run for re-election because I think we are doing some great things that are just getting started and I would like to see them through to fruition,” she said, listing the public services complex that broke ground last month and environmental issues, including proposed restrictions on socalled “single use” plastic bags and Styrofoam cups.

Snyder, a real estate broker who previously logged more than two decades in the medical diagnostics field, says he is running for office to try and help the council prioritize goals and get city staff the resources needed to meet its objectives.

“Having lived in South Portland for 25 years, I have noticed that my taxes haven’t gone down, while we are having a harder time as a city keeping up with services we provide,” he said.

For the school board, just as Matthews is the lone candidate for District 3, longtime incumbent Tappan Fitzgerald is the only person running in western-most District 5. However, with the District 4 seat vacant due to the July resignation of James Gilboy, the board of education is guaranteed one new face. Testing each other for that honor are Thirlmere Avenue resident Libby Reynolds and Matthew Perkins of Elderberry Drive.

Perkins is a production manager for Portland-based Strategic Media, a national advertising agency specializing in radio. A father of three students in the district, Perkins said he has long entertained the idea of running for public office, and a school board seat with no incumbent in the race seemed like the ideal opportunity.

“Plus, with a new superintendent coming in, I thought it was a good time to get involved and get my foot in the door,” he said.

Reynolds is a Key Bank branch manager who currently sits as vice president of the Skillin School PTA, vice president of the South Portland/Cape Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce and member of the South Portland Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee.

“I grew up in a family of educators and I want to be involved in my children’s education by making sure that South Portland offers the best education it can to all of our students,” she said of her decision to run for office.

Cape Elizabeth

In Cape, all council and school board seats are at-large, meaning the top three candidates in each race, town council and school board will enjoy the laurels.

Of the seven town council candidates, only one, Jessica Sullivan, is an incumbent. She has served on the council since 2009 and is seeking her third term. Councilors James Walsh and Jamie Wager chose not to run for re-election. Wager has cited family obligations in his decision to step down after one term, while Walsh has said it was simply time after six years to give someone else a chance at the reins.

Sullivan’s six challengers include Imogene Altznauer of Fowler Road, Roger Bishop of Leighton Farm Road, James Garvin of Oakhurst Road, Sara Lennon of Cranbrook Drive, Ralph “Alex” Miller of Beach Bluff Terrace, and Victoria Volent of Cottage Farms Road.

Of the lot, two have significant municipal experience. Lennon, a graphic designer by trade, served on the town council from 2007 to 2012. Volent, meanwhile, is a member and past chairman of the town’s planning board.

Lennon said she is running again in hopes of generating greater public involvement in public processes.

“If I could summarize it in a big picture, I am looking forward to involving the citizens in a more robust way early on in the process. I’d love to have public hearings before work starts rather than at the end.”

Altznauer is an events organizer and partner in Flavors Festivals LLC, which stages “BBQ & Blues” celebrations from Maine to Florida. She said she decided to throw her hat in the ring after several years of being urged by friends who share her outlook about the town.

“I want to see a bit of reform on the council in that I’d like to see more listening to people of this town,” she said. “I feel like not all of our councilors are listening, particularly when it comes to open space, and there are a lot of people out there who are tired of it.

“Whether I am personally for or against anything is really irrelevant, we just don’t seem to be listening to the voice of the community, and that’s what I would want to bring to the council,” she said.

Bishop, who runs his own consulting firm dedicated to the human resources field, said he also is running at the behest of others. Bishop ran as a nonpartisan candidate for state Legislature in 2012, finishing third to the party candidates, but still capturing nearly 18 percent of the vote.

“I had several people approach me soon after that campaign to tell me I ought to utilize my skill sets for the benefit of the community,” he said, noting that while he deferred at the time, he relented when the calls were renewed going into the current election cycle.

“I believe I have the background in management and the corporate world to help bring resolution to some very complex issues facing the town,” Bishop said.

Alex Miller is director of sales and business development at Tube Hollows International, a precision machine shop located in Windham.

“After 15 years of enjoying living in Cape Elizabeth, I thought it was time to give back,” he said.

“I’d like the opportunity to have a bit more access to information from the point of view of the town manager and the town planner,” he added, saying he is “very interested in weighing both sides” of the town’s development issues, being somewhat torn between a desire to see Cape remain rural and a need for managed growth.

Garvin, a marketing and communications consultant, was, until June, the senior manager of digital advertising at TD Bank. He now works as a marketing and communications strategist.

He is a member of both the Recycling Committee and the ad hoc Solid Waste Long Range Planning Committee, roles due to end soon due to term limits and completion of the ad hoc group’s final report.

“I’ve been active in service to the town and, with both of those roles coming to an end, I was looking for a way to continue to lend my time and talents to the community,” he said. “Like many who live here, I think Cape Elizabeth is a unique place, and I would like to play a role in helping to work on both the current challenges before the town, along with planning for its future. I think citizen participation in local government is an important job, and one I’m eager to take on.”

Volent could not be reached for comment before deadline.

As large as the field of Cape council candidates may seem, it could have been larger still. Two potential candidates, Randi Bollenbach of Belfield Road and Julie Sprague of Odyssey Lane, took out nomination papers but did not return the completed forms by the Sept. 4 deadline.

In the race for school board, all three incumbents — John Christie, David Hillman and Kate Williams — chose not to seek relection. In their stead, the field of four includes Elizabeth Scifres of Longfellow Drive, who sat on the school board from 2011-2014 until losing a re-election bid; retired engineer William Gross III of Sea View Avenue, who ran unsuccessfully for school board in 2012 and 2013; John Voltz of Phillip Road, who tested the town council this past May by circulating a petition to oppose a $110,000 cut to the school budget; and yoga instructor Heather Altenburg of Olde Colony Lane,

Finally, while all council and school board seats in both South Portland and Cape Elizabeth are for three-year terms, one fiveyear position is available, as a member of the Portland Water District Board of Trustees. However, there’s little drama involved, as only one of three people to take out nomination papers managed to submit signatures to get on the ballot. Joseph Siviski of Mussey Road in South Portland, an attorney at Portland law firm Perkins Thompson, will run unopposed.

Return to top