First-time candidates seek Brunswick councilor-at-large seat

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BRUNSWICK — An at-large seat being vacated by Town Councilor Alison Harris will be the town’s only contested election in November.

Planning Board member Sande Updegraph and legislative aide Dan Ankeles are vying for the seat.

In District 3, Daniel Jenkins is the only candidate for the seat being vacated by Councilor Suzan Wilson. Chairman John Perrault, who is running for re-election in District 4, is also unopposed. 

Ankeles

For first-time candidate Ankeles, who has worked  in the Maine House Democratic Office for the past six years, his children were part of his inspiration to run for council.

“Next year I’m going to have the first of my kids in the Brunswick school system and I thought it was very important to give back to the community that’s going to be raising them and shaping their lives as they grow up,” Ankeles said.

If he is elected, the 37-year-old will also be the youngest councilor, and said he thinks the group would be well-served by “a little bit of a shake up.”

The two biggest issues he has heard about from residents, he said, are affordable housing and protecting the quality of education.

He also said coming up with creative ways to fix what he called the town’s “fiscal hole” is important.

“Now you have people scapegoating the education system for all the town’s budget problems,” Ankeles said. “And people are fighting about that instead of getting together and figuring out what else we can do to spread the tax burden through tax base growth.”

Attracting more young entrepreneurs to Brunswick, especially to areas like Cook’s Corner, he said, could be one way to do so, although he said anyone who thinks they know the “magic formula” for economic growth is arrogant.

He said concern from constituents about affordable housing have three parts: the property tax rate, home prices, and homelessness.

Plans for the new Central Fire Station have not come up as frequently, he said, but he thinks “the same scrutiny” that is applied to school spending should be given to the Fire Department facility.

He added town staff should “get to the bottom of” the disparity between the estimated $9 million cost and the proposed $15 million price tag.

Updegraph 

A member of the Planning Board since 2015, Updegraph said she feels excited to be running for council, and is interested in creating a long-term plan for the town’s future.

“Whether I win or lose, I really want to become very involved in (creating a) vision for the town,” she said. 

If Updegraph is elected to the council in November, she will be required to resign from the Planning Board. She said choosing to run with that in mind was a “big decision,” and that she will miss it if she wins.

“I think it’s really an important board, but this is a whole different ball game and I feel really excited to even be running,” Updegraph said.

She said there is an obvious desire in her district for “control on property taxes.” She also said focusing on taxes will be her primary goal.

Updegraph is involved with creating a senior tax relief program in town, and though there are “many details to come,” she thinks it needs to happen.

“I think it allows seniors who have contributed and have some history with Brunswick or other towns to stay here,” she said. 

Another topic raised by constituents that has excited her, she added, is creating a strategic plan for the town’s future, separate from the capital improvement plan or comprehensive plan.

“A lot of plans have been done, but I want to see us look more globally and use what’s been done plus some new voices and just kind of figure out where we’d like to be headed in the next 20 (or) 50 years,” she said.

Jenkins

Jenkins, an associate professor of leadership and organizational studies at the University of Southern Maine, is unopposed in District 3.

Jenkins and his family moved to Maine from Florida six years ago. He said School Board member Ben Tucker encouraged him to run after Jenkins bought a home in the district.

Running for council seemed like a “great opportunity to give back” to the community, and brainstorming creative ways to generate revenue in town aside from property taxes is important to him.

One way might be considering putting marijuana businesses in an area other than the industrial zone and taxing them more, he said. Strengthening the relationship between the town and Bowdoin College is also something he is interested in.

He called being unopposed a “lucky break.”

“It certainly changed the way I looked at the whole opportunity,” he said. “(I’m) really just looking forward to getting started.”

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or eclemente@theforecaster.net. Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente

Age: 73

Family: Husband, three sons, grandaughter

Education: B.A .Wake Forest University; certification, Economic Development Council of Maine

Political/civic experience: Volunteer for Hilary Clinton campaign, Brunswick Zoning Board of Appeals, Davis Fund Committee, Village Review Board, Planning Board, former Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority trustee, Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber of Commerce, Freeport Economic Development director, former executive director Freeport Community Improvement Association, former president Freeport Chamber of Commerce

Website/social media: https://bit.ly/2N6Fz16

Age: 37

Family: Married, son, daughter

Occupation: Legislative aide in the Maine House Democratic Office

Education: B.A. in political science from University of Chicago, graduate training in radio journalism at Boston University

Political/Civic Experience: Five years on the Brunswick Recreation Commission, the final two years as chairman. Also served two years on the Brunswick Rivers and Coastal Waters Commission.

Website/social media: facebook.com/danankelesforbrunswick

Age: 38

Family: Married, two daughters

Occupation: Chairman and associate professor of Leadership & Organizational Studies at the University of Southern Maine

Education: B.S. in communications, with minors in music and English literature, Florida State University; M.A., political science, University of South Florida;Ph.D., University of South Florida

Political/civic experience:Intern for U.S. Sen. Bob Graham; Student Senate president pro tempore; policy analyst Florida House of Representatives Appropriations Committee; adjunct professor Hillsborough Community College, Intern for Florida gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis

Website/social media: www.danjenkinsleadership.com, @Dr_Leadership

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