2015-10-30 / Community

Newcomer tries to unseat incumbent in council race

In South Portland, first-term incumbent Linda Cohen is being challenged for her District 4 seat by political newcomer Andrew Snyder. Their candidate surveys appear here in alphabetical order by last name.

Name: Linda C. Cohen

Age: 60

Address: 4 Tamarack Drive

Occupation: Bank branch manager

Family: One adult daughter

Education completed: Associate’s degree in law enforcement; Bachelor degree in business administration [institutions not cited]

Organizations and activities: South Portland City Council (2011-present, including mayorship 2014-present); South Portland Lions Club; South Portland Civil Service Commission

Top three issues:

1. We need to balance our desire to be green and sustainable with the need to maintain a healthy mix of industry and residential properties. South Portland has been blessed with a commercial tax base that has employed many people and kept residential property taxes down. We have some wonderful corporate citizens in our city, and we need to work together to make South Portland be the best community it can be.

2. We have an aging population in our state and in our city. We need to make sure we are meeting the needs of those residents and staying in touch with that constituency. There may be programs we haven’t thought of that would maximize an older generation’s enjoyment of our city.

3. Traffic in and around South Portland has increased, causing congestion and slow commutes. We need to pay attention to what routes are available to drivers to get from one end of our city to the other, as well as make sure we are encouraging the use of our bus system to its maximum ridership capacity.

Why are you seeking elected office?

I would like to see some of our recent initiatives come on line and be able to make changes, if necessary, if they do not work out as we imagined them. As a council, we do our best to look at the what-ifs and the unintended consequences of our legislation, but we cannot foresee every outcome. No doubt, we will want to revisit recently passed ordinances in a year and possibly enhance them.

If you could change one thing about South Portland, what would it be and how would you do it?

I would like to hear from a broad spectrum of people and interests in our community. History shows us that it’s a vocal minority most involved in speaking or writing to councilors. It has always been that way. I want to hear from people with differing perspectives. It helps me be more informed when I vote on the issues before us.

Name: Andrew Snyder

Age: 55

Address: 72 Boysenberry Drive

Occupation: Real estate broker

Family: Married with one child and two stepchildren

Education completed: Master’s degree in applied immunology [granting institution not listed]

Organizations and activities: Greater Portland Board of Realtors; Share Our Strength (Taste of The Nation Volunteer, nine years)

Top three issues:

1. We are currently involved in litigation that is an assault on the right of municipalities to regulate land use in consideration of the greater good of its citizens. Defense of the Clear Skies Ordinance is important to protect the city from the consequences of an aging industry’s attempt to squeeze more profit for a few while endangering many. It is also important to assert the right of citizens to protect their environment, their health and their homes.

2. Adhere to the comprehensive plan. South Portland has an excellent comprehensive plan, adopted in 2012, which lays out the goals of strengthening our walkable, diverse neighborhoods, improving economic diversity, providing quality, lifelong education, nurturing our waterfront, and making South Portland a destination city. We need to review our current code of ordinance and its enforcement and determine what changes need to be made to align with the comprehensive plan. We have a great road map to strengthen and improve our city, now we need to make sure that we are working productively toward that goal.

3. Accountability. South Portland needs to improve its accountability to the citizens. More communication is needed on issues ranging from road repair timelines to large capital expenditure requirements. Detail on both the school and municipal budget needs to be made accessible. When mistakes are made, causes should be identified and corrective actions should be put in to place to prevent recurrence.

Why are you seeking elected office?

South Portland is a great place to work and live. I appreciate that this is a city where neighbors still tend to know each other, and for the most part, we can agree on what is important. South Portland has gone through many changes in the 25 years I have lived here and currently faces several challenges. I am confident that city staff is doing its best under the circumstances. I believe that the council should work more closely with staff, identify the challenges and develop plans that address short-term problems and consider the long-term implications. I believe that it is the council’s responsibility to give direction to city staff and approve the resources necessary to accomplish those goals.

I have over 20 years of experience as an industrial chemist in Maine’s biotech industry. My industrial career taught me to create and evaluate budgets and to analyze processes and develop systems that improve efficiency. In 15 years as a real estate broker, I have worked with the staff of several municipalities in the area and have seen a variety of solutions to common problems. I believe that my unique combination of industrial and real estate experience will be an asset to the council as we confront our current challenges and work to keep South Portland a safe, prosperous and hospitable city.

If you could change one thing about South Portland, what would it be and how would you do it?

South Portland is growing and changing. With the comprehensive plan, we have agreed upon how we want to grow and what kind of city we want to be. We need to question business as usual and look to new, more efficient ways of doing things. I would like to see South Portland do a periodic review of procedures and ordinances to identify problems before they grow and become entrenched. As a member of the council I would support the appropriation of time and funds to conduct these reviews and am confident that the effort will pay for itself in increased efficiency.

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