SCARBOROUGH — Three challengers are running along with incumbent Bill Donovan in the Nov. 8 Town Council election.
Marjorie DeSanctis, Kathleen Foley and Annalee Rosenblatt are Donovan’s opponents for two seats on the council. Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina is vacating her at-large seat because she is a candidate for election in state House District 30.
DeSanctis, of Beech Ridge Road, ran a short-lived campaign for state representative in House District 28 this year before dropping out and supporting Town Councilor Chris Caiazzo, who is seeking to unseat Rep. Heather Sirocki, R-Scarborough.
She is on the board of the Scarborough Housing Alliance, but has never served on the council. She is retired from a career in health care finance, and worked for Maine Medical Center as a medical auditor and finance manager.
DeSanctis said her campaign for councilor is not driven by dissatisfaction with the council, but a desire to be a part of the continued progress the town has made.
She believes her background in finance and experience in management makes her a compelling candidate.
“Taxes are always on people’s minds, (and) one of the things the council wants to do is try to maintain a stable, predictable tax rate, and I think my budgetary background would help with that,” DeSanctis said.
She also said she’d like to see the town continue pursuing more affordable housing options for a range of residents, including seniors, “so the people who work in Scarborough can actually afford to live here,” and for the town to continue supporting its schools through adequate funding, she said.
Donovan, who is chairman of the council, said since he’s been on the council the town has many improvements, and he wants “to see the momentum that we’ve created be continued.”
During his time as chairman on the council and on the Finance Committee, the town’s tax rate has increased, on average, 2.5 percent, compared with more than 5 percent in years past, he said.
Donovan said it’s important that residents be able to expect “low and predictable tax rates … so that people have faith in us, can trust us and so they can know what’s coming down the road.”
He said his second major area of concern is making sure town schools receive adequate funding.
“I believe that a quality school system is about as high a priority as any community can have,” Donovan said, adding that “funding a school system within reasonable bounds is the best way to promote property values.”
Finally, he said, his continued goal will be for the council and other boards to continue sustaining “civility.”
It’s necessary for elected officials to work together and set a standard for how the community should behave, Donovan said, which also includes continued government transparency and accessible lines of communication between residents and councilors.
First-time candidate Foley, of Lucky Lane, has a background in sales, marketing and management, and is perhaps best known for her leading role in the Dog Owners of Greater Scarborough group.
The group opposed new leash laws that the town adopted in 2014 for the protection piping plovers that nest on town beaches.
Foley said some of her primary goals will be continuing to strengthen schools with sufficient funding; increasing the affordable housing stock and attracting more diverse demographics to Scarborough; and working toward continued and enhanced transparency between councilors and residents.
Citing concerns with the “polarization and divide” she has seen in the community, Foley said her moderate stance can help “bridge the gaps that exist and bring better balance” to the council.
“I think we can do a better job of listening to all voices and truly practicing open, transparent and inclusionary government,” which includes adopting ordinance language that is clear and open to public input, she said.
Foley said her agenda is to not have an agenda; her aim is to listen, to be approachable, to work to “keep taxes low and get spending under control.”
Foley also said that as Portland grows, and as Scarborough grows in turn and becomes more diverse, it’s important to have constituents represented at the local level. Working to not only protect Scarborough’s control, but make sure that all constituents feel like they have a voice is important, she said.
Annalee Rosenblatt, a self-employed human resources consultant and resident of Scarborough for more than 30 years, is also a first-time candidate for the council.
She previously served two terms on the School Board in the early 2000s, and has been a member of the Finance Committee, Charter Review Commission, Comprehensive Plan Committee and the Scarborough Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
Not only would her experience in community service contribute to her work as a councilor, she said, but her “whole professional life has been working as a consultant in the municipal and school district sector.”
Rosenblatt said she isn’t critical of the current council; she wants to get involved to help balance the “demands of the municipal and school budget and against the tax rates that are generated, so that all residents are considered not just segments of the population,” she said.
As a senior citizen, Rosenblatt said she believes she can offer a new perspective to local government.
“I’m a senior citizen, but I’ve had kids go through the Scarborough schools and been a substitute teacher,” she said.
She said she understands the limits that many of the town’s seniors and other residents face, including the challenge of finding affordable housing.
Working to bring a more affordable and diverse housing stock to the area is a sustained goal that Rosenblatt said she would like to help achieve.