Election 2015: Falmouth council chairwoman faces 2 opponents

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FALMOUTH — The June 9 race for two open Town Council seats features a trio of candidates, including the current council chairwoman, a former councilor, and a first-time candidate with a short, stormy history of public service.

Karen Farber

Karen Farber, 58, of 93 Foreside Road, is seeking her second, three-year term on the council. She has been the chairwoman since 2014.

She said she is running again because she “loves serving” and there are “a lot of great projects I’d like to be involved in.”

Farber said she is proud of several accomplishments from her first term, including zoning changes on Route 1, the library moving toward expansion, and the formation of the senior citizen advisory committee.

Farber said she believes the Rivalries sports pub decision the council made was the right one, and said she had no qualms about changing the Tidewater Master Plan.

“I do think we worked at trying to look at zoning changes with a lens to the long term,” Farber said. She added there “could be something else in the future,” so the council “did make a concerted effort to look at changes beyond the existing proposal.”

With regard to the Route 1 renovations, Farber said the town was lucky a previous council established the tax increment financing district used to fund the renovations.

“The fact the voters approved using the TIF money is a solid indication we’re going in the right direction,” she said.

As for a proposed Route 100 project, she said while it is difficult to estimate the cost, she expects it to be an improvement “for everyone.”

“I would like to see the town be able to pitch in with the Maine Department of Transportation to get it where it needs to be,” Farber said.

Prior to serving on the council, Farber served two terms on the School Board, chaired the committee that helped plan the new elementary school, spent three years on the Comprehensive Planning Advisory Committee (now known as the Long Range Planning Committee) and was chairwoman of the Falmouth High School PTO. 

“I bring a balanced approach to the job and a level of enthusiasm for the town I think is important,” Farber said.

Originally from Oregon, Farber came to Falmouth from New Jersey 15 years ago. She currently works for Maine Craft Distilling, and before that spent eight years working for Disability Rights of Maine as a special education advocate.

Edward Kitchel

Edward “Ned” Kitchel, 70, of 237 Foreside Road, previously served two terms on the Town Council from 1997 to 2003. He recently finished a five-year term on the Cumberland County Board of Assessment and Review.

“(Running) wasn’t something I had planned a month ago to do,” Kitchel said. “But … I do have a passion for good government and getting involved and being part of the community in that way.”

Kitchel said some of the most important issues to him include education, open space protection, and development of the business sector, as well as remaining focused on the tax rate.

“In a way it’s sort of like just being a steward of what we have and making it better,” he said.

Kitchel said he is an advocate for the redevelopment of Route 1, adding “what you see now is the outcome of the plan that went into effect” during his first tenure on the council. He said once it’s finished, it will be more relaxing and appealing for people who come through.

He said Route 100 is the next area of attention for the council, and he is “anxious” to see the vision for the area. He said he hasn’t studied it enough, but he knows it’s getting council attention and “the plan is to work hard to make that appealing as well and more user friendly for people who want to go there to shop or just drive through.”

Kitchel said he supports the decision the council made for Rivalries at Tidewater Farm, especially since the council had unanimously approved it.

“Those types of businesses can be designed to have a low impact on neighbors, but (still) draw a lot of traffic,” he said.

Kitchel listed several accomplishments from his previous tenure on the council, including significant open space acquisitions, a library expansion, developing what was at the time the Exit 10 area in West Falmouth, and construction of the TD Bank building at 70 Gray Road.

Kitchel has nearly 40 years’ experience in business. He was owner and president of a Philadelphia-based company called Quaker Marine Supply until he retired in 2013. He also worked in direct mail at LL Bean for 14 years.

Kitchel was born outside Philadelphia, and moved to Falmouth in 1978. After a brief time spent in Portland, he returned in 1988. He and his wife, who co-owns Casco Bay Physical Therapy, have one daughter.

John Winslow

John Winslow, 55, of 253 Gray Road, is running for the first time. He said he is a candidate for two reasons: what he sees as an “imbalance” on the council, where there is no West Falmouth representation, and “to see the most value for taxpayer money.”

Winslow, a self-employed contractor, said he constantly has to make businesses decisions based “on need, not want.”

He said he does not agree with the council’s decision to rezone the Tidewater lot where the owners of Rivalries hope to build. He said the decision was unfair to people who live in the neighborhood.

Winslow said once zoning rules are set, they should stay put, “except for under extreme, undue hardship.”

“I don’t believe they are under that undue hardship at this point in time that they needed that master plan changed,” he said.

Winslow said changes along Route 100 are overdue. He said he’s seen Route 1 rebuilt three times while the Gray Road area has been neglected, aside from when the West Falmouth Crossing was built.

He said “no one has really stuck to a long-term vision” for Route 1, and the money being spent “isn’t an economic boom for business.” Instead, he said, the town is “footing the bill” for utility companies’ new infrastructure.

Winslow has been a Falmouth resident all his life, and said his ancestral roots in town go back to 1799. He said he has always been involved with issues facing the council and School Board.

Winslow served on the Harbor Committee from 2005-2008. He said he got involved because of an incident on Labor Day weekend in 2004, when he was out on his boat and became entangled with a boat placed by the harbor master. Winslow said he called the harbor master’s office from his boat, but only got an answering machine, and his call wasn’t returned the following day.

“It was a very lax situation that could have done serious harm,” Winslow said.

He started going to Harbor Committee meetings, was eventually appointed to the board, and said he eventually exposed unsafe practices, including boats being placed outside the special anchorage, parking issues, and others.

“I had done a tremendous job, and uncovered a lot of things they weren’t too fond of,” Winslow said.

However, he eventually resigned from the committee after a no-confidence vote in July 2008. According to minutes from that meeting, the committee voted 5-2 against him, and was prepared to recommend to the Town Council that he be removed from the panel.

Winslow’s attorney submitted a resignation letter on his behalf to the town’s attorney before the council took any action. The letter said a police investigation into Winslow was occurring at the time of the no confidence vote, although the investigation did not involve criminal allegations.

The letter said Winslow received a copy of a letter Town Manager Nathan Poore received from Police Chief Edward Tolan, which contained a complaint lodged against Winslow by Tolan.

Tolan said he couldn’t speak about the issue, and Winslow said he now has a good relationship with Tolan.

“I have no idea what (the police investigation) was about, it was never disclosed to me personally,” Winslow said.

Winslow said he thought it would be better at the time to “bow out” of the committee.

Steve Archambault, who was chairman of the Harbor Committee at the time, said he couldn’t go into detail since the deliberations had come in executive session.

Winslow said he was punished for being an outspoken critic, and believes the episode proves he is qualified for the council.

“I think that shows a good quality in anyone, that you can have a conflict, resolve it, move on and still have a good relationship,” he said.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

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Falmouth School Board candidates uncontested

FALMOUTH — An incumbent and a newcomer are running uncontested for two seats on the School Board.

Dee Conroy-Vella, 51, is seeking her second term on the School Board. She is an Irish immigrant who has been living in Falmouth since 1999. While on the board, she has been the PATHS representative, as well as the wellness committee representative. She is also on the policy committee.

She said supports a budget that is student centered and maintains Falmouth’s rank in the state; “financial accountability and transparency to the community;” “effective, responsible and informed use of technology,” and “informed and Falmouth-centered implementation of state mandates.”

Conroy-Vella is a retired physician and came to Falmouth after living in Boston for several years. She and her husband have two children.

Cindy Han, 49, moved to Falmouth from Maryland six years ago. She has volunteered at all three schools.

Han said she is running because she wants to ensure the district is constantly seeking ways to improve. She said she is also concerned about the transition to proficiency-based education, “because it lends itself to a one-size-fits-all learning system.

“I would like to be a part of the effort to ensure that our teachers have the time and resources to learn how to implement it in a way that truly benefits all students,” Han said.

She said she also wants to help search for new and creative ways to reduce costs in the face of diminishing state aid, and said the decision to “switch to a cost-saving, energy-efficient wood-chip boiler is a great example of a smart choice the School Board has made in recent years.”

— Colin Ellis



Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.