2015-10-30 / Front Page

Seven compete for three Cape seats

Seven hopefuls are vying for three open seats on the Cape Elizabeth Town Council, with just one incumbent in the race. Candidate surveys appear here in alphabetical order by last name.

Name: Imogene Altznauer

Age: 56

Address: 78 Fowler Road

Occupation: Event management/producer

Family: Two children (ages 15 and 19)

Education completed: Bachelor’s degree (institution not cited)

Organizations and activities: None

Top three issues:

1. Create and foster arenas such as the “Community Roundtable” to solicit community input to drive the town council’s annual goals, with a periodic check-in to report back out to the community on progress.

2. Work to preserve the open spaces and rural character of this town.

3. Work to collaborate and support the excellent work that is currently being done by the school board administrators and the amazing faculty.

Why are you seeking elected office?

The desire to act on behalf of the citizens of our community, asking for their input on issues at the start of a process, rather than asking for input after the fact.

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

I would like to see change in the spirit in which our town council conducts business. If elected I would work to ensure that when the citizens vote or voice their opinions, that those issues are then either acted upon per public input, or they go away, per the public input. We seem to continue to circle around the same issues long after this community has voiced its opinions and concerns, creating more work and spending more taxpayer money. I’d like to see focus on new initiatives.

Name: Roger Bishop

Age: 67

Address: 10 Leighton Farm Road

Occupation: Human Resources consultant; Retired from Fairchild Semiconductor as vice president of human resources for global operations.

Family: Married with two adult children, two grandchildren

Education Completed: Associate’s degree in business administration from Davenport University, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Bachelor’s degree in marketing and advertising from Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan; Master’s human resource administration from the University of Scranton.

Organization and activities: Independent candidate for State House District 123 in 2012; Cape Elizabeth Personnel Appeals Board; Cape Elizabeth Little League Softball Division umpire; Community Garden at Maxwell Farm (charter member and current chairman); Beach to Beacon 10k volunteer; Cape Elizabeth Garden Tours volunteer’ Judy’s Food Pantry volunteer.

Top three issues:

1. Maintaining a high level of educational opportunities for all members of the community, regardless of age, within a reasonable budget limits. This will require a continuing evaluation of the school and community services budget to make sure we maintain our level of excellence in education in line with size and demographics of the population being served.

2. Protecting the community character while allowing for services to expand that will assure our citizens have up to date systems and processes in the future. One of the items to be addressed is the appropriate number and placement of microwave phone towers.

3. Finalize a long-term vision and plan for the community infrastructure, including aspects of Items 1 and 2, above, the town green, and town center development, etc.

Why are you seeking elected office?

I am running for town council because I believe that citizens of this community should actively participate in the town governance. I believe I have the leadership experience and skill sets that will contribute to the mission of the council in fulfilling its responsibility to the town.

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

I would like to see Cape Elizabeth citizens more aligned with the legacy and development vision for the community. Recognizing changing demographics of our town is an important step. Providing programs, activities, housing and services are instrumental to that end. Providing a place where citizens can interact positively, like in a town square and at our new library, is a step in that direction.

Name: Jamie Garvin

Age: 40

Address: 76 Oakhurst Road

Occupation: Marketing executive at Harte Hanks

Family: Married, two children (ages 10 and 6)

Education completed: Bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University

Organizations and activities: Cape Elizabeth Recycling Committee (current secretary and past chairman); Cape Elizabeth Solid Waste & Recycling Long Range Planning Committee; Cape Cottage Beach Neighborhood Association (past member); active volunteer in Cape Elizabeth schools; volunteer coach and umpire for Cape Elizabeth Little League

Top three issues:

1. Strategic planning for land use and development in the town center is an important issue to many in Cape Elizabeth, and one that will be a top priority for the next Town Council. I support managing any development in town in a way that balances the interests of residential and commercial growth with preserving the qualities and characteristics of the community that are so important to why people choose to live and work in here.

2. Ensuring that our tax dollars are being invested as efficiently and effectively as possible, while delivering maximum value to the town. This includes making necessary investments in facilities and services, but in a way that minimizes the tax burden as much as possible. Some projects that fall under this include the recommended improvements at the Recycling Center, along with increasing cellular coverage in town, something the public strongly voiced in favor of at the Sept. 17 Citizens’ RoundTable event hosted by the Town Council.

3. Supporting our schools through collaborative and responsible budget planning. Our schools are one of the town’s most valuable assets, and should be treated as such. I strongly support an open and collaborative process between the school board and the town council that clearly establishes objectives for both bodies, direction and guidelines to be followed, and a shared goal of responsible stewardship of our schools as the ultimate outcome.

Why are you seeking elected office?

I am passionate about the town of Cape Elizabeth. My wife grew up here, and 12 years ago we moved back here to start and raise a family. I want to serve the people of our community by bringing a fresh voice and new ideas to the town council, listening to citizens’ needs and concerns, and working collaboratively with fellow councilors, town administrators, the school board and other stakeholders to create common-sense solutions to not just the challenges facing Cape Elizabeth, but also the opportunities waiting to be seized. I’ve had valuable opportunities on various committees to participate in work that helps contribute to the town council’s goals, and I am looking to continue to lend my time and talents to the community in a meaningful way.

In terms of my style, I am known to listen first, and ask thoughtful probing questions that get at the heart of the matter. I am collaborative, results-driven, and committed to making fact-based decisions. In my professional career, I am a highly strategic thinker, continually seeking creative solutions to difficult challenges or opportunities, with a proven track record of developing strong relationships — all skills and characteristics I think are well suited to serving on a decision-making body like the town council.

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

I would like to see more engagement from the community on issues that are of critical importance to the town. And I think the town council can do a better job to foster and facilitate dialogue in a way that can help to address this issue. Too often, particularly in recent years, I have seen important issues in town come and go without the level of discussion and debate that they most certainly deserved. Or if the public does become involved in the matter, it often times comes so late in the process that they become frustrated feeling their voices have not been heard, with a decision on the matter all but finalized.

I would look for ways to engage the public earlier and more often, and more importantly through new communication channels that are not being utilized today. Through more frequent public forums and input sessions (both in person, as well as online surveys), as well as actively engaging in social media conversations where appropriate, we have an opportunity to not only better understand public opinion about issues, but to create an environment where citizens feel like active participants in the outcome.

Name: Sara Lennon

Age: 56

Address: 54 Cranbrook Drive

Occupation: Graphic designer

Family: Married with three children (ages 20, 18 and 16)

Education completed: Bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University; Master’s degree from the University of Virginia

Organizations and activities: Cape Elizabeth Town Council (2006-2012)

Top three issues:

1. Develop our town center in ways that preserve its uniquely natural feel. How many towns have wetlands, woodlots and vistas plus the schools, library, town hall, shops and businesses all in one intimate and lovely place? I’d like to see us preserve that feel while using some of the remaining land to build small-scale shops and dwellings that benefit Cape citizens.

2. Resolve the Spurwink Rod & Gun Club disagreements with solutions that are fair and reasonable for both the club members and town citizens in ways that ensures the safety and well-being of our residents, animal life and environment.

3. Maintain our exemplary schools by supporting the professionals who help our community’s children learn and thrive.

Why are you seeking elected office?

I am deeply committed to the town of Cape Elizabeth. As we plan for our future, I would like to see us incorporate our proud history and current gifts — a beautiful town, myriad parks and beaches, protected open space with walkable trails, working farms, outstanding schools, and a close-knit community. If elected, I will strive to preserve Cape’s rural character and working farms, invite citizen involvement in town government, seek out efficiencies in time and money, strengthen the role of volunteers in the work of local government, and support the schools in delivering a first-rate education for all students.

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

I would increase citizen opinion and involvement in the decision-making at town hall. To do so, I would hold openstyle meetings, create questionnaires and online surveys, and of course seek out informal personal conversation. I believe that our boards and committees should be given more independence to truly represent their fellow citizens. And I will encourage interested people to contribute their valuable time and talents, enjoy the work, and feel appreciated for their involvement. I am motivated to represent all of my constituents with curiosity and respect.

Name: Ralph Alex Miller

Age: 50

Address: 58 Beach Bluff Terrace

Occupation: Director of sales and business development for Tube Hollows International, a precision machining company based in Windham

Family: Married with three children (ages 15, 14 and 9.)

Education completed: Bachelor’s degree in English from Dartmouth College; Master’s of Business Administration from The Darden School at University of Virginia

Organizations and activities: Hancock Point Village Improvement Society board member

Top three issues:

1. Cape Elizabeth’s citizens care deeply about the town and its future. And when informed, they regularly offer valuable input to the Town Council on a wide range of issues. Encouragingly, the council has recently done a nice job of soliciting increased input from citizens through forums such as the Citizens Roundtable workshop. These efforts should continue, since it is critically important that the council reflects people’s views based upon regular and sincere exchanges of ideas. Recent hot button issues including the rod and gun club, school budgets and town zoning recommendations have highlighted the need to make this a priority.

2. Following recommendations made in 2014 by the Town Center Committee, the town council should explore creative solutions that allow for an integrated approach to development of a town center along Route 77. One idea: Hire a consultant with experience in rural town center development to define a visionary but viable plan across multiple properties. This would avoid the perils of evaluating individual property proposals without an idea of what the finished plan should be. Citizens should understand the recent zoning change that allows for creation of a village green is likely to be accompanied by multi-unit housing.

3. Updating Cape Elizabeth’s Comprehensive Plan. The town’s Comprehensive Plan was last updated in 2008. Input provided at the recent Citizens Roundtable workshop touched on multiple themes that deserve to be reviewed. These included: a focus on sidewalks and trails and footpaths among greenbelts, the town center and neighborhoods; zoning ordinances concerning multi-unit development; town center planning; public transportation; preserving smaller, rural style homes; and open space preservation.

Why are you seeking elected office?

I would like to give back to this great community through public service. My family and I have lived here for 15 years and I am motivated to play a larger role in shaping Cape Elizabeth’s bright future, just as my predecessors did before me. The quality of life we enjoy in Cape Elizabeth is the result of thoughtful, well-reasoned decisions based upon input from multiple facets of the community. As a political newcomer, I look forward to listening, learning and bringing new ideas to the table.

I am an advocate for education and believe that investing in schools provides a return for the entire community. As a council member I would work hard to improve communication between the council and school board in order to avoid acrimonious clashes such as the recent 2015 school budget approval process.

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

Cape Elizabeth doesn’t need changing. The town boasts unique natural wonders, excellent services, effective government, dedicated citizens, beautiful parks and superb schools. People come from far and wide to enjoy our intimate trails through the woods as well as expansive marshes, fields and ocean views. As a town councilor, I would seek to build on that solid foundation by listening to citizens and then contributing creative and constructive ideas that will allow the town to evolve in a way that is consistent with the path already travelled.

Name: Jessica L. Sullivan

Age: 61

Address: 441 Mitchell Road

Occupation: Physical therapist (semiretired)

Education Completed: Bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Boston University; currently pursuing a master’s degree in public health from the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine

Organizations and Activities: Cape Elizabeth Town Council (2010-present); Portland Metro Coalition of Governments (current chairman); Maine State House District 121 candidate in 2008; Mercy Hospital Auxiliary

Top Three Issues:

1. Property taxes: Paying for outstanding public schools and exemplary municipal services is always a challenge. We have struggling young families and seniors on fixed income who cannot afford constantly rising property taxes.

2. The Cape Elizabeth Senior Citizen Advisory Commission recently completed a lengthy report concerning the needs of seniors in Cape Elizabeth. Before now, Cape seniors have not had a voice. We need to look at actions that can improve the lives of our fastest growing demographic.

3. Our Solid Waste and Recycling Long Range Planning Committee completed its report and recommendations for changes to our transfer station. We are looking at increasing safety, ease of use and improved efficiencies for a complete redesign. This is the most heavily used facility in town and we will be making careful plans to improve it.

Why are you seeking elected office?

I am seeking re-election because I really enjoy serving my community and doing the work it takes to be a good town councilor. There are many important competing needs and I enjoy the challenge of collaborating to find good solutions. I work hard to serve all citizens, and have particularly enjoyed getting to know many more folks in town.

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

As a fifth generation Caper, I have deep roots in town and have seen many changes over the years. Cape Elizabeth is a wonderful place to live, yet seniors in Cape have not had a strong voice or presence. I initiated the Senior Citizen Advisory Commission, and this should be a catalyst for positive change going forward.

Name: Victoria Volent

Age: 50

Occupation: Registered financial associate specializing in retirement planning

Family: Married with two children (ages 19, 12)

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Maine; master’s degree in public policy and management and certificate of graduate studies in community planning and development from the Muskie School of Public Service.

Organizations and Activities: Cape Elizabeth Planning Board (current, two terms, with two years as chairman); Community Services Advisory Commission (one term); active school volunteer.

Top Three Issues:

1. Village green: A town-owned village green would be a welcoming, visually appealing prominent park-like area that promotes both relaxed and contemplative activities as well as social and community involvement. A village green would be the centerpiece to our greenbelt network and underscore our commitment to the protection and preservation of open space from development. New development can be controversial, but when new development is proposed, it should allow for the donation of land — a minimum of approximately half an acre of land prominently located on Ocean House Road — by the property owner to the town.

2. Senior Citizen Advisory Commission Report: The Senior Citizen Advisory Commission was established in 2014 to study the care needs of those in our community age 60 and over. From this study seven recommendations were presented to the town council for further development into action steps. The importance of this study is highlighted by the fact that 24 percent of Cape Elizabeth residents are age 60 or older. I support establishing a permanent standing committee to support research related to aging and the issues seniors identify as important to their quality of life such as housing, communication and transportation.

3. Education: Cape Elizabeth has a reputation for educational excellence. We have celebrated teachers, outstanding students and exceptional programs. We need to continue to meet the needs of our students and at the same time be responsible to the financial needs of our citizens. When preparing a budget, I will balance the needs of our robust school system that values high quality and comprehensive programs while being mindful of available resources and responsible to all taxpayers.

Why are you seeking elective office?

I have been a Cape Elizabeth resident

for 25 years. I have a master’s degree in public policy and management from the Muskie School of Public Service and extensive community and school experience. I support citizen involvement and improving the connection and exchange of information between the council and the community. From my service on the planning board, I am familiar with the issues important to our community, comfortable working with our ordinances, and experienced with providing balanced solutions from competing positions. I have a deep appreciation for the breadth and work the council undertakes and I think I have something to contribute.

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

Based on recurring citizen comments and backed by the comprehensive plan, I would support the expansion of our sidewalk network and bikeways in a manner that promotes public safety and preserves the character of Cape Elizabeth roads and neighborhoods. Construction of sidewalks in the town center will be financed by the newly established Tax Increment Financing District, while grants, donations, and general revenue would fund other projects as was done with the Shore Road pathway. I would encourage holding neighborhood meetings to solicit public comment as well as preparing a townwide pedestrian, sidewalk, and cycling plan.

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