Election 2015: 1st-time candidates seek South Portland council seat

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Two first-time candidates are campaigning to replace City Councilor Melissa Linscott in the District 3 election.

Eben Rose, of Buchanan Street, and Ernest Stanhope, of Fessenden Avenue, are running in the district bordered by Dawson Street, Broadway and Evans Street, and the Cape Elizabeth town line.

Linscott, who will complete her first three-year term in December, is not seeking re-election.

Absentee ballots are available at City Hall and may be requested until 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29. They must be returned by 8 p.m on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3. Residents can vote for candidates in all districts, not just candidates in their home district.

Eben Rose

Rose, a geoscientist and former Bowdoin College professor who co-owns Southern Maine Tile & Grout Cleaning with his wife, first became involved in local politics during the city’s recent debate about tar sands. 

Most recently, he has been a critic of the proposal by NGL Supply Terminal Co. to build a liquid propane storage facility at Rigby Rail Yard. 

Throughout his personal involvement with these issues, Rose said, “I’ve gotten to know the players and power relations, and I’m enthusiastic that you can make a difference as an individual person.”

Rose’s platform outlines four areas he wants to address, including improved accountability among councilors and city staff; additional green economic development (as outlined in the city’s Comprehensive Plan); bringing more businesses and local food to the city, and ensuring that the health and safety of the community is protected. 

Rose also wants to improve the public’s access to city councilors via an Internet blog. The blog would be reserved for question-and-answer dialogue, “accessible to everyone all the time, where ideas for legislation can be discussed,” he said. It would “all be part of an archived open and accessible exchange that’s ongoing.”

“There’s much more space for the invention of a better democracy,” Rose said. 

Whether it’s big issues like tar sands or liquid propane, or smaller issues like dog parks, “it can be much more open,” he said. 

With regard to environmentally sustainable, or green development, Rose said steps toward fulfilling this goal in the city’s Comprehensive Plan should include more than just new land use development.

“It can be about talent, as well. I would like to see ways that the vastly underutilized talent in this country can be used to solve civic environmental problems,” he said. 

“Most of the time if the roads are paved and plowed and taxes are low, then that’s, I guess, all people should expect from their local government,” Rose said. “We, of course, have those duties, but we also have other duties: we have a pretty envisionary and optimistic Comprehensive Plan that maps out how the city is charting its future growth.”

Rose said his involvement with civic issues, his knowledge of municipal and state statutes and ordinances and his “geotechnical expertise” would bring a unique perspective to the council.

“It’s all about being an informed democracy,” he said. “I appreciate Brad Fox’s advocacy for citizens dealing with city government, and I would like to emulate that.

“I would be an accessible councilor. I would be that voice, that guarantor of the health, safety, comfort, convenience and general welfare of the inhabitants. That’s a pledge I would take very seriously,” Rose said. 

Ernest Stanhope

Stanhope, a South Portland native and graduate of South Portland High School, owns Embers Stoves & Fireplaces on Main Street.

He said the city’s focus is shifting to a point that isn’t good for business.

“As a business owner in South Portland, I am concerned with the attitude that the city is promoting toward business growth,” Stanhope said in an email last week. “We need to work on bringing businesses into our city, not promoting ordinances that discourage economic development.”

Part of that movement requires a more balanced City Council, Stanhope said.

“From the city trying to stop the NGL and with Martin’s Point moving out, too much of the focus is on other issues” he said. “We need to right this ship and bring it back on target.”

He said the decision by Martin’s Point Health Care to move to Scarborough after withdrawing its application for a new building in South Portland,was a “blow to the city.” 

“With the additional jobs and traffic brought to that neighborhood, local businesses would have seen an increase in sales, and the city an increase in tax revenue,” he said.

Stanhope said he would be “more receptive” to new businesses moving to South Portland. “Increasing the tax base is beneficial to everybody,” he said.

Stanhope said his goal is to represent the “average South Portland citizen and local business owner,” and to “encourage a more conservative outlook when examining issues that concern city growth.”

“I am not a politician, a lawyer or a newspaper writer. I don’t speak the political language,” he said. “I have chosen to raise my family and open a business in this community. I feel my voice best represents the average citizen and the interests of small business owners.” 

Stanhope did not respond to telephone and email inquiries about a Sept. 20 post on his Facebook page that defined a liberal as a “Lazy Ignorant Bastard Exuding Racism And Lies.”

That post, and everything more recent than Aug. 30, has since been removed from his public Facebook timeline.

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or aacquisto@theforecaster.net. Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA

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South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.