Bath City Council: 6 candidates for 3 seats

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BATH — City Councilors Mari Huoarti Eosco and Ruthe Pagurko each face contests this year in their re-election bids.

Bryce Payne is challenging Eosco for the Ward 5 seat and Cal Stilphen is running against Pagurko in Ward 7.

Steve Brackett and Benjamin Burden are the candidates for the at-large seat being relinquished by Councilor Wayne Cochrane.

All three positions have three-year terms.

At-Large

Steve Brackett

Brackett, 53, of Middle Street is married and has three children. The Georgia native has co-owned Brackett’s Market at 185 Front St. with his wife, Kimberly, for 14 years.

As a business owner and employer, he said, “looking at the makeup of the council I feel like there needs to be a little bit difference balance … . I’m a fiscal conservative, and I think perhaps a business owner will bring a different view to the table.”

Brackett said he was surprised by the City Council’s 5-4 decision in February to borrow up to $300,000 for installation of artificial turf at McMann Field, given the tough financial climate. A petition sent the matter to the polls in June, where residents voted 1,522 to 861 to reverse the council decision. The council ultimately voted 5-1 last month in favor of the field upgrade, as long as no taxpayer funds were used for the project.

“I thought that was a much better approach,” Brackett said.

He said his regular presence at the market would make him accessible to constituents. This is his first foray into politics.

“I live here, work here, my kids attended school here,” Brackett said. “… When you look at what is supposed to represent citizens, it looks to me like I could do that.”

Benjamin Burden

Burden, 48, of Front Street, is co-owner of Maine Hosting Solutions at 122 Front St., which he started with Dan Eosco in 1996. Recently remarried, Burden has a daughter from a previous marriage. He spent most of his childhood in Maine and moved back in the early 1990s.

He spent six years on the Main Street Bath board, and was president in 2007. He was Heritage Days coordinator in 2008, a board member of the Plant Home last year and is a corporator at Bath Savings Institution.

Burden said council meetings could sometimes be more efficient, and “I think I can lend a hand there with my business experience, and kind of getting right to the point and getting some action done, instead of a lot of talking about it.”

He said he welcomes anything that can make Bath more efficient and, in doing so, lower its taxes.

Burden disclosed that he was arrested about seven years ago after a domestic disturbance, but said he has never spent time in jail.

Ward 5

Bryce Payne

Payne, 57, of Willow Street, is retired after a 30-year career in the U.S. Navy, which he completed as Wing 5 maintenance master chief at Brunswick Naval Air Station. He is married, has one daughter and has lived in Bath since 1986.

“I see things getting prioritized and things happening, and I think that there are some improvements that could be made,” Payne said, adding that Bath has a lot of infrastructure that should be improved.

Such work must be done sensibly, he noted, explaining that he has seen instances in Bath, such as on North Street, where a street has been repaved and then soon after torn up for further work.

“I want to be able to look at the books and see where our tax increases and tax dollars have gone, and are they prioritized correctly,” Payne said.

He suggested that when Bath’s roads are opened for work such as sewer and water line installation, thought could be given to running power lines underground to reduce the number of utility poles in the city.

This would be Payne’s first time on a city board. He said service is important and he cares about people and his community.

Mari Huoarti Eosco

Eosco, 37, of Washington Street, is a mother of two small children who served four years as director of Main Street Bath prior to her election to the City Council. Born and raised in Bath, she finished the remaining nine months in the term of the late Councilor Jack Hart prior to winning her current full term.

“I’ve learned a lot already, and I like to be involved, and I like to understand what’s going on behind the scenes, and take concerns and questions from constituents, and bring those to the city and help find solutions,” Eosco said.

She noted the importance of the city upgrading its aging infrastructure, like roads and sewer lines. “We’ve got a city with strong bones,” she said, “but we need to be continuing to work on what’s underneath.”

Eosco, who runs a Facebook page called Living in Bath, praised the prosperity of the city’s downtown and the citizens who help to make that happen.

She has served or continues to serve on boards of the Chocolate Church Arts Center, Skate Park and Main Street Bath. She also chairs the city’s Parking committee and is a corporator of Bath Savings Institution.

“I have experience now,” she said. “I know a lot of my constituents, I’m very familiar with my ward, and I enjoy working with the city staff and finding solutions.”

Ward 7

Ruthe Pagurko

Pagurko, 61, of Mechanic Street, has lived in Bath for nearly 50 years and is wrapping up her second term on the City Council. A widow with two grown daughters, she is a homemaker who previously packed orders at L.L. Bean and worked with mentally challenged adults through the Independence Association.

Her past and present volunteer work includes the Christmas and Fourth of July parades, the Maine Maritime Museum and the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra. She has also served on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Main Street Bath and the Salvation Army. Her memberships have included the Bath Senior Citizen’s Center, Community Policing and Volunteers in Policing, and the American Legion Auxillary. She also works with the Elder Abuse Task Force and the Bath Recognition Committee.

Pagurko said the council has worked hard during her past term, and that she has remained accessible to her constituents.

“I’m dedicated, I work hard,” she said. “… I go out and literally talk to people on the street to see what their ideas are … before I vote on anything.”

The condition of city streets and infrastructure is a concern Pagurko said she has heard from constituents, particularly sewer and water line overflows after heavy rains. While she said she is glad to see the work being done, “we’ve got a lot more work to do on that.”

Cal Stilphen

Stilphen, 60, of Old Brunswick Road, is a lifelong Bath resident. A widower with two children, he contracts with insurance companies to do commercial and industrial property evaluations.

“You get to a point in your life where you have the time, and you still have the energy, and the interest to stand up and get involved,” he said.

“I love Bath,” Stilphen added. “And I want to be involved with the process that ensures this city remains a great and affordable place to live, not so much for me but for my children and my grandchildren.”

He said he would like to see the City Council be a little more collaborative, but noted that overall the panel does “a pretty good job.”

Stilphen said he has heard concerns in his ward about road conditions and traffic control. He mentioned that “the loop,” an approximately three-mile route that runs along Old Brunswick, Ridge and Whiskeag roads, is not safe enough for the bicyclists and joggers who use it.

“There’s no shoulder,” he explained.

While serving as a senior loss control consultant with the Maine Municipal Association for a year, Stilphen worked with municipalities in southern Maine, an endeavor that he said helped him understand the challenges faced by municipal departments, such as fire, police and public works.

“I think I can bring that experience to be a benefit and an actual asset to the city,” he said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

Sidebar Elements


Steve Brackett

Benjamin Burden

Bryce Payne

Mari Eosco

Ruthe Pagurko

Cal Stilphen

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.