Incumbent Scarborough councilors face pair of challengers
SCARBOROUGH — Political newcomers Michael Hoglund and Jessica Holbrook are challenging two incumbent town councilors, Carol Rancourt and Richard Sullivan, in the Nov. 3 election.
Incumbents Nicola Rico and Benedetto Viola are running uncontested for the Scarborough Sanitary District Board of Trustees.
Hoglund, 44, of Beech Ridge Road, owns Countryside Butchers and the Painted Turtle. He graduated from Deering High School in Portland, is single and has three children.
He said he is running because he believes the town must become more friendly to businesses, specifically in code enforcement, which he said has "gone overboard."
"They want it their way; I just don't think they work with the people," he said. "They've got a little bit of power and it's gone to their heads."
Hoglund said his residency and his businesses qualify him to be a councilor.
In addition to listing code enforcement as one of the three most pressing issues Scarborough faces, Hoglund cited the cost of permits and the budget.
He said he believes permits are "too pricey" and criticized the town's decision to charge for garage sale permits.
"I'm not always into nickel-and-diming you," he said.
As for the budget, he said the schools have been cut enough and added he would look at wage freezes, cutting back on doing road construction at night and cutting positions such as city workers and fire chiefs, saying they "have too many for the town."
With recent indications that Scarborough Downs may once again be considering a racino referendum, Hoglund said such a referendum would have his support.
Hoglund said he had "no issues" with the Pine Point land swap between the Lighthouse Motel and the town. On the ability to recall an elected official, a provision the Charter Commission is considering, Hoglund said it would be a good addition for an official who'd committed a crime, but not because someone did not like the way an official voted.
Though he said he isn't familiar with the local land bond referendum that will be on November's ballot, when it was explained, he said he would "absolutely" vote for it.
"I am a hard worker, an honest guy, I listen to the people, tell people how it is straight up ...," Hoglund said. "There are some things I don't know too much about right now, but I would study hard and work hard."
Holbrook, 28, of Beech Ridge Road, is a hair stylist. She is married and has two children.
She said she is running for the council because she wants to "help the community."
"I think sometimes we're underrepresented and I disagree with how we go about making decisions," she said.
Though she has no previous experience, Holbrook said she is qualified because she has attended meetings for years with her parents and spoken out on issues.
Holbrook said she would like to ensure property owners' rights, particularly the right to raise sufficient livestock on their property to meet their needs. In pursuing that, she said she has observed residents aren't always given enough opportunity for input and she called for more workshops and "socials" that include residents.
She listed the budget as another pressing issue.
"There's only so much money coming in and you can only spend so much – if cuts have to be made, they have to be made," she said. "I'll vote 100 times for a furlough day before I vote to fire somebody."
Payne Road traffic is also on her list of concerns. Though she said she feels sorry for residents along that road, she also doesn't view the area as residential and believes the town should rework the road to handle traffic by adding stop lights and reducing speed limits.
Holbrook said she would support a racino because of additional tax revenue and to help the horse racing industry.
She said she did not support the council's decision to approve the Pine Point land swap last summer and she approves having the ability to recall a councilor, but said three years of service may be too long and suggested the term be reduced to a year. Holbrook said she plans to vote against the land bond referendum because it is not the right time for the town to take on more financial responsibility.
"I would work as hard as I can and I would absolutely listen to people," she said. "I appreciate you can't make everybody happy but I try to incorporate everything into a decision."
Rancourt, 60, of Black Point Road, is a social worker employed as the coordinator of the Senior Medicare Patrol and State Health Insurance Program for Southern Maine Agency on Aging. She has a bachelor's degree in social work and a master's degree in education from the University of Southern Maine, and has done additional graduate work in gerontology. She is single, and has one adult child.
Rancourt said she was inspired years ago by a speech by the late Sen. Edward Muskie, who called public service a "high calling," and believes it is important to do her part by serving on the council.
Her experience comes from the two previous three-year terms she has served, as well as nine years prior service on the Board of Education, plus community and civic involvement.
The three issues Rancourt believes are most pressing are managing traffic, growth and the budget.
The challenge posed by traffic and residential and commercial growth is how to manage them well and make them work together, while keeping the character of the town as unique as possible. She said she would like to see an implementation plan for changes to traffic patterns and road improvements, and would want to establish a plan that all roadwork include the addition of bike and pedestrian paths.
"In lean times do a half-mile of road, but in better times, do five miles," she said.
Part of planned improvements to roads and the community includes planning for new infrastructure, Rancourt said: "We have old and we have new and we have to integrate them."
Rancourt said "everything would be on the table" – including curtailment of services provided by staff at Town Hall, police, fire and schools – if the two statewide referendums that would effectively cut money from the local budget were to pass. Even if Question 2 and Question 4 do not pass, she said, there will likely be cuts in services or property taxes will have to be raised.
Rancourt opposes a racino and said it would be an "economic drain," not a boon. She voted against the controversial Pine Point land swap last summer and said she believes there should be a provision for recalling elected officials, though the parameters should not make it easy. And Scarborough must continue to protect land, she said, so she supports the land bond referendum.
"I hope (residents) will vote for me because they respect me and think I'm thoughtful," she said. "I do listen to all sides of an argument and make as good a decision as I can and I'm able to change my mind."
Sullivan, 44, of Sullivan Farm Road, has been a Portland firefighter for 23 years and has owned a Scarborough landscape business for 27 years. A graduate of Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute, now Southern Maine Community College, he has been married for 21 years.
Sullivan said he's seeking re-election because he wants to continue his service to the town. He said his qualifications include his three previous years' service on the council, as well as his experience as a municipal worker and as a business owner.
"I think what I have done so far on the council matters and my experience ... gives me a wide range of perspective on town issues," he said.
Taxes, schools and Scarborough traffic make up Sullivan's list of three pressing issues – and he said he has demonstrated he can "deal with them." Having served as a member of the council's Finance Committee for all three years, Sullivan said this spring they were able to bring in a zero percent increase budget. On the school side, he said administration hired six new positions, which does not indicate to him that the schools are being underfunded.
With expectations of another rough budget season, Sullivan said he thinks every department will have to take cuts, with the exception of the School Department.
"As far as any cuts in the school, I don't see it happening – cuts are coming from the state for the schools," he said.
In terms of traffic, Sullivan said he got involved with the Payne Road Study Committee "to make a compromise between residents and business." But the Payne Road situation was not unique, he said, and continued growth will necessitate looking at other roads and making compromises, too.
Sullivan said he supports a racino in town because it would help fund a new school, library and community center while bringing more businesses to the area and supporting local farms.
He voted in favor of the Pine Point land swap, changing his mind at the last moment, for which he received a maelstrom of criticism from the Pine Point Residents Association. He does not support a provision for recalling elected officials unless they demonstrate unethical behavior because voters are given that opportunity every three years. He said he has mixed opinion of the land bond referendum, because the town has lots of open space and he wonders if the it should be spending for more at the present time.
"I believe I've done a good job for citizens of Scarborough," Sullivan said. "I've had their best interest at heart, I did what I promised to do – kept taxes down and made sure schools were properly funded."
Voting will take place on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Scarborough High School gymnasium. Absentee ballots are available at Town Hall or through the town's Web site, scarborough.me.us.
Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org.