Urge to serve sets up 6-way council race in Yarmouth
YARMOUTH — Six candidates are competing for three seats on the Town Council in the June 14 election.
Incumbent Councilor Bill Schaffer, who has served one, three-year term, hopes to retain his seat against former Councilor Mark Hough, former candidate Randy Bates, and three political neophytes: Leslie Hyde, Andrew Kittredge and Jim MacLeod.
Several candidates said they were encouraged to run after reading a letter from Town Councilor Steve Woods. The letter, published as a paid ad in The Forecaster, urged residents to take more active roles in local government.
The polls will be open at the AMVETS Hall, 148 North Road, on Tuesday, June 14 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. A June 1 candidates forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce at the Log Cabin will be replayed on Channel 3 several times before the election.
Bates, 43, of Tannery Lane, is married and has two children in the school system. He is a member of the Planning Board and ran as a write-in candidate for Town Council last year, losing by 27 votes to Councilor Tim Sanders.
Bates graduated from Bates College in Lewiston and the University of Maine School of Law and has lived in Yarmouth for seven years. He is a criminal defense attorney at Strike, Goodwin & O'Brien in Portland, and coaches his children's soccer, basketball and baseball teams.
As a member of the Planning Board, Bates has participated in the implementation of the Mercy Hospital project on Route 1 and the development of the Phase 3 Gateways/Route 1 corridor proposal. He said he supports a plan for Route 1 that would be safe and accessible for bikers and pedestrians.
"There are those of us on the Planning Board who'd rather have it be much more of a village feel to it than anything else," he said.
He called the McKearny Village subdivision off Hillside Street that was approved by the Planning Board a tremendous opportunity to connect neighborhoods and provide safe pedestrian and bicycle movement.
Bates said he is running to help ensure Yarmouth retains the qualities that make it unique. He said it is a way to give back to the community for the quality education and for the programs offered to his family through Community Services.
"There are a lot of parents out there who work really hard and don't have the time for this sort of thing," he said. "I don't have a lot of time, but you realize nobody has enough time and somebody has to step forward and speak for those people too."
Bates said there are residents who have to sell their property because they cannot afford taxes, and while he would never say no to additional increases, he would have to give serious thought before making that decision.
"I think you could cut (programs), but then it wouldn't be Yarmouth," he said.
Hough, 51 of Bayview St., has previously served two, three-year terms on the council. After a mandatory year off, he is running again.
Hough is married and has two children who went through the Yarmouth school system. He has lived in town for 25 years and is the owner of Hough & Co. contracting and remodeling; he and his wife also own Huffy's Sandwich shop on Route 1.
He has been a Rotary member for 12 years, on the Harbor and Waterfront Committee for six years and a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals for six years. He founded the Royal River Striper Tournament 20 years ago as a charity event for school scholarships.
Hough was the chairman of the Town Council and served four years on the Cumberland County Budget Advisory Committee. He said he enjoyed his time on the council and said community involvement is important.
"My father did things like this and I want to show my kids what it is to be involved in a community. I want to lead by example," he said.
Hough said would like to be conservative with town spending and would look for savings in every department.
He said Route 1 needs to be business- and commerce-friendly, and should have a different feel from the village area and Main Street. Growth is important for the town to survive, he said.
Hyde, 56, of Pleasant Street, has lived in Maine for 23 years and in Yarmouth for seven.
For the last three years Hyde has run the nonprofit organization Maine Teen Talk and is now hoping to start a new nonprofit. She lives with her partner David and has a grown daughter.
Hyde has worked with teens at the Long Creek Youth Development Center, is a teen mentor, has worked at the Breakwater School and started the North Yarmouth Academy summer program for students.
She has been a Historical Society trustee and attended Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.
"I'm honest and not judgemental," Hyde said. "I am linear and focused, but am also interested in how to make and sustain connections."
She said she would like to see more of a gender balance on the Town Council and is looking forward to finding ways to synthesize different points of view.
"We live in a new world and I believe it is OK I haven't lived here for 150 years," she said. "I have the patience for the process and will stand up for what is right."
She said she would like to maintain Yarmouth's village feel, but would also support an increase in access to businesses along Route 1.
"Even if it is not me, I want people to serve on the council who are committed and who want to ensure their decisions are for the greater good," Hyde said. "I want all voices to be heard."
Kittredge, 32, graduated from the University of Maine in Orono and received a bachelor's degree in construction management. He attended the National Outdoor Leadership School in Kenya for a semester and has lived in Yarmouth for 26 years.
He works as a project superintendent at CPM Constructors in Freeport and lives on North Road with his fiance Beth and her daughter, who attends the Rowe School.
As a project superintendent, Kittredge said he has experience with multi-million dollar projects and budgets and said he understands how to identify savings.
"I think budgeting in the construction industry relates to budgeting in all places," he said. "I'm always looking for cost savings. I look at every budget with the same scrutiny."
Kittredge said he likes the idea of creating more pedestrian and bicycle paths along the Route 1 corridor and would welcome more businesses.
"I think Yarmouth needs to look to support and welcome business," he said. "I think Main Street has some business opportunities to make it more user friendly without changing its character. It is a tough balance, but I know it can be done without ruining the village feel."
Kittredge said he is looking forward to the opportunity to serve on the council.
"I am open minded and I stand up for what I believe in," he said. "I'm here as a Yarmouth resident, I am a product of the Yarmouth school system, I understand the unique character that Yarmouth has and want to preserve that moving forward."
Jim MacLeod, 51, of Berryfield Road, is a senior manager in wealth management services at Bangor Savings Bank in Portland.
He has lived in Yarmouth for seven years with his wife Rebecca and their two girls. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Maine and attended law school at New Hampshire School of Law and the Boston University School of Law.
He said he practiced law for 12 years prior to working in the banking business, representing municipalities and handling public finances.
"I understand municipal government and how it operates," he said. "Now I have more work flexibility and personal time to take a more active role in my municipal government."
MacLeod said he considers himself a fiscal conservative "with perspective."
"I understand what goes out and what needs to come in, but I think long-term investments are not necessarily a bad thing and it is OK to borrow to do that," he said. "I don't accept the fact that taxes have to increase each year."
MacLeod said he is confident in those serving on Yarmouth's various boards and committees.
"I think I can help add value to our town and have the experience necessary for the job," he said.
Incumbent Schaffer, 69 of Cumberland Street, is a retired lawyer who occasionally does court-appointed work. He graduated from Yale Law School; he and his wife Janice have three grown children.
"I feel like I've built up experience and can be more helpful at this point," Schaffer said. "Like everyone else running for a municipal position, I feel like this is a way I can give back to the community."
Schaffer served on the appointments committee and was the liaison to the library trustees. He also served on the Maine Municipal Association board.
He said he would rather evaluate the different town services instead of trying to set a target budget. He said budget decisions cannot be made without understanding first how the services work.
During his time on the council, he said, he has visited the waste water treatment plant, observed snow removal during winter storms and has toured the Wyman Station as a way to better understand town services.
"New blood is great, but without institutional experience you cannot fully understand the process," Schaffer said.
He said he has no agenda, except to maintain commitment to the meetings, to care for and listen to constituents and their issues.
"To not use the experience I've gained in the past three years would be unjust and unfair to the residents of this community," Schaffer said.