Six candidates seek 3 Scarborough Town Council seats
SCARBOROUGH — Turnover in the Town Council will continue this year as six candidates seek three seats and one incumbent seeks re-election.
Councilor Jessica Holbrook of Beech Ridge Road is seeking a second three-year term, while veteran Councilor Carol Rancourt cannot seek a fourth consecutive term because of local term limits.
Running with Holbrook for the two seats with three-year terms are Paul Andriulli of Two Rod Road, Forest Street resident Ed Blaise and Christopher Coon of Meeting House Road.
The election to replace former Councilor Karen D'Andrea, who resigned in August, and serve the remaining two years of her term is between Morning Street resident Bill Donovan and Kate St. Clair of Woodfield Drive.
Scarborough Town Council seats are elected townwide and without party affiliation.
Coon, 45, and St. Clair, 35, are running for elected office the first time. Andriulli, 56, missed winning a council seat in 2011 by 79 votes. Donovan, 65, and Blaise, 69, served on school boards in New Hampshire and Vermont, respectively.
Andriulli, a contractor, is married to Toni Andriulli. A 26-year town resident, he served 20 years on the Scarborough Fire Department.
Blaise, 69, is married to Faye Blaise. The couple are 14-year Scarborough residents and have two grown children. Blaise worked for IBM near Burlington, Vt.
Coon, 45, is unmarried, has no children, and works in financial management at Maine Medical Center. He has lived in Scarborough for six years.
Donovan, 65, has lived in town for six years and is married to Molly Donovan. Between them, they have seven grown children. Donovan was a lawyer who oversaw a firm in Manchester, N.H.
Holbrook, 31, is married to Benjamin Holbrook and the couple have two children. She was first elected in 2009 and is a Scarborough native who owns a salon.
St. Clair is married to Mark St. Clair. They have four children; she has been involved with the March of Dimes for eight years, including as chairwoman overseeing an online support group for parents of children born prematurely.
In a year where the candidates said the there are no "hot-button" issues, taxation and spending are resonant themes.
Four of six candidates said they support the town referendum to spend up to $900,000 for a new ladder truck for the Black Point Road fire station. The bond question anticipates a total repayment of $1.08 million in principal and interest over the next 20 years at 2 percent interest.
Blaise said he is unconvinced the cost is justified.
"I don't see why we should spend $1 million for a truck that will depreciate 30 percent to 40 percent in three or four years," he said.
At a Oct. 11 forum, Coon said he was undecided about the sole local referendum question on the ballot.
Andriulli's support is experience-based. "You want to know the truck under you is safe," he said.
Donovan and Blaise said they are committed to keeping property tax increases equal to or under the rate of inflation.
"A lot of people are neither rich or poor and own the vast majority of houses and pay the vast majority of taxes," Donovan said.
Blaise and Coon vowed to bring their management and accounting skills to council chambers.
"I will spend time thinking and wondering how things will look in five or 10 years," Coon said.
Holbrook, who serves on the council finance committee, said staffing shortages in public safety and at Town Hall and other municipal needs have been postponed too long.
"I don't care what the economy is doing, people always worry about their back pockets," she said.
Scarborough School Department operations account for 60 percent of municipal appropriations, and council candidates said they are aware they are limited in their input on education spending. The council has final say about how much is spent on education, but no say in where it is spent.
St. Clair said the key to council and School Board relations comes in communication. She said her friendship with Scarborough School Board member Kelly Murphy is a reason she is running.
"It is critical to have a good relationship. They might not like what you have to say, but they will be more open to it," St. Clair said.
Andriulli said his work as a contractor will help him reconcile and compromise with a basic idea in mind.
"I want the best education everyone can afford," he said.
Coon said he is running because of the budget process last winter. He was distressed by School Department plans to add new staff and programs despite the loss of federal and state subsidies.
"If enrollment is level, then growth should not be beyond the cost of living increases," he said.
Donovan said it is not his intention to do "what the School Board is charged to do," adding he would still speak up if projected spending increases are higher than the rate of inflation.
Blaise said he would like to expand the council role in determining the education budget, and said he sees little financial management in any municipal area.
"I don't feel the school system or town government has a responsibility of providing or ensuring jobs are kept," he said. "I'm not out to cut programs; I am out to get the town more efficient."
Holbrook said her first term showed her the limitations councilors have on education spending.
"You can say all day long 'you can find it here,' but there is nothing you can do," she said.
With slowed economic growth, the candidates said they support reviewing zoning laws and permitting practices. Andriulli said demanding the highest standards in design and infrastructure can add costs that drive residents and businesses from town.
Holbrook said loosening restrictions and understanding the diversity of the areas of town could help spur growth, but supports making choices about development that are not redundant with neighboring towns.
Donovan said he is optimistic planning and infrastructure place the town in a good position to benefit from a growing economy. He would like to see efforts to bring in greener businesses without simply shifting companies to town from neighboring areas.
When considering growth, St. Clair and Coon said it is as important to understand the needs of existing businesses and support them.
"I want to make sure someone is reaching out to the business community," Coon said.
What motivates the candidates and makes them want to serve?
"It thrusts me more into becoming a member of the community," Donovan said.
St. Clair said she is seeking the two-year seat to learn about serving and how the council works.
"I have been very lucky to meet some cool, incredible people. But I am not afraid to say 'I don't know,'" she said.
Holbrook said her re-election campaign is like her first run.
"You should put your time where your mouth is," she said.
Coon said he will bring devotion and a fresh perspective to council chambers.
"I am passionate about this town," he said.
Flexibility will be a key for Andriulli.
"Nobody has the silver bullet. You just listen and make the best decision," he said.
Blaise pinpointed his goals to improve town finances and budgeting.
"I think people who run should have ideas to change things," he said.