2018-11-02 / Front Page

Candidates fill ballot for Cape council

By Jocelyn Van Saun
The Forecaster

Five candidates are competing for three seats on the Cape Elizabeth Town Council in November.

Council Chairwoman Jessica Sullivan and Councilor Sara Lennon are not seeking re-election. Councilor Jamie Garvin is running again, and is challenged by Valerie Deveraux, Jeremy Gabrielson, James Tasse and John Voltz.

Barring write-in candidates, the election for three seats on the School Board will be uncontested. Incumbents Heather Altenburg and Elizabeth Scifres are running to keep their seats and Laura DeNino, of Steeplebush Road, is seeking the seat being vacated by Voltz.

Deveraux is a 58-year-old lawyer who said her professional experience could add perspective on issues such as land disputes and updating the Comprehensive Plan, and help improve collaboration between the council and School Board.

Deveraux said she would focus on concerns of residents, such as “policing” at the transfer station, which is sometimes used by nonresidents. She’d also like to see the town do more to educate residents about what can and can’t be recycled.

Deveraux said it is “reasonable” for the council to again take up the discussion of parking fees at Fort Williams Park to offset maintenance and other costs paid by taxpayers.

She said it’s important for the town to preserve rights to open space to protect it from future development.

Gabrielson, a 39-year-old conservation planner, said he would be a strong voice for conservation issues.

He said he was encouraged by the council’s recent vote not to vacate the town’s claim to an undeveloped portion of the so-called Surfside Avenue paper street.

Gabrielson said he would explore how the town can promote recycling and broader sustainability policies, potentially by implementing a sustainability committee or coordinator.

Gabrielson said he is not in favor of charging for parking at Fort Williams Park and that there are other ways, such as the fee structure already in place, to generate more revenue.

Garvin, a 43-year-old marketing manager, is seeking a second term on the council and said his approach is to make himself “excessively accessible” to everyone in town.

Garvin said he’s open-minded about parking fees at Fort Williams Park, but would first like to make sure the town is maximizing revenue from existing fees. Garvin said he’s “uncomfortable” having Cape residents pay a fee and “even slightly uncomfortable” making Maine residents pay.

Garvin voted against the proposed Surfside Avenue settlement, but said he still hopes to find some compromise between the plaintiffs and town, rather than “battling it out in court.”

Garvin said he’d like to continue working on an open dialogue between the council and School Board, and that he’s curious to learn if the town and schools could each have their own operating budgets.

Tasse, a 55-year-old nonprofit manager who also ran for Town Council last year, said he would work to preserve public access to open space and improve walking and biking conditions in town.

He said the council did the right thing by not accepting the Surfside Avenue settlement.

Tasse said another issue facing the town is development pressure, which could be helped by adopting a Comprehensive Plan that will “guide the build-out of the town in a way that preserves public access to open space and makes it easy to get around in ways besides just driving in a car.”

Tasse said he is in favor of parking fees at Fort Williams Park, but thinks they should be “low (and) reasonable.”

Voltz, a 55-year-old finance and business consultant, decided to run for the council rather than another term on the School Board and said he would work to improve the town’s governance and reporting standards.

In general, Voltz said he’s in favor of “user fees” at Fort Williams Park, but not fees that would have a big impact on the community.

Voltz said he’s “very pro-coastal access,” but the paper street debate is a “legal minefield.” In order to make an informed decision on the dispute around Surfside Avenue, Voltz said there needs to be public data about the assessed value of the land now and in the future.

Voltz said the municipal and school budget process needs to be carried out in a “longer-term fashion” and suggested having the Town Council produce data on the cost of “high-quality education” to see where Cape Elizabeth “falls on the scale.”

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