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- The Forecaster
CAPE ELIZABETH — Barring a successful write-in campaign, two incumbents and a first-time candidate will be elected to the Town Council on Nov. 6.
Councilors Jim Walsh and Jessica Sullivan are seeking re-election for their second terms on the council after first being elected in 2009. Local coffee shop owner Jamie Wagner is the third candidate on the ballot for the three, three-year positions.
Council Chairwoman Sara Lennon is not seeking re-election.
This isWagner’s first campaign for elected office. He is the co-owner of the Local Buzz Coffee Shop & Wine Bar on Ocean House Road and moved to Cape Elizabeth about 5 1/2 years ago from Washington D.C., although he was born and raised in Maine. He has two children.
Wagner said he has been involved in politics since he was a child, watching his father as a state representative, and thinks his career as a lawyer positions him well for town government.
Particularly, he said his legal expertise will serve the town well when drafting or correcting ordinances.
One of the changes he said he would like to encourage as a town councilor is to give Cape Elizabeth a more vibrant downtown.
“I would like to help make this town a community that gathers together more frequently,” he said, noting that as one of his goals for opening the cafe. “There’s a lot of people in Cape Elizabeth that are hungry for businesses that are lacking here.”
Public space is also important, said Wagner, who applauded the work of the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust in preserving public lands.
In the same vain, as a councilor he said he would like to maintain public access to Crescent Beach State Park and work to see if there is anything the council can do to facilitate discussion to preserve the land.
Walsh is a broker with Weichert Realtors-Waterglen Group and works for L.L. Bean. He also was an executive of Stop & Shop Supermarkets in Massachusetts and was a school teacher and administrator. He has lived in Cape Elizabeth for 34 years and has four children.
In addition to being the chairman of the Ordinance Committee, Walsh is the council’s representative to the Greater Portland Council of Governments.
Previously, Walsh spent six years on the Zoning Board of Appeals and said he is running again because he was motivated by what the council has been able to accomplish.
“I like to see things through and stay with them until the’re finished,” he said.”I’m looking forward to giving it another three years, if they’ll have me.”
One of the accomplishments he points to is the improvement of the town’s website, which he said has enhanced communication between town government and the citizens, while also making government more accessible.
The Thomas Memorial Library is an important issue, he said. Walsh, noting major improvements will still be needed if a $6 million bond for a new building doesn’t pass in November, said he hopes voters learn all they can about the project before voting.
Sullivan, the other incumbent, is a licensed physical therapist and former business owner of a medical practice with her husband. Although she has also lived in Texas and Massachusetts, she has lived in Cape Elizabeth for the last 12 years, making her the fifth generation of her family to live in town.
Sullivan chairs the Appointments Committee and represents the council on the Open Space and Greenbelt Management committee, the Future Open Space Preservation committee, and is on the Thomas Memorial Library Foundation board.
Sullivan said the last three years have been rewarding and challenging.
“It has been very rewarding to work with people towards a consensus or compromise,” she said. “Ultimately you come out with a better product because a lot of people have had their input.”
She also sees the library as one of the most important issues facing the town, she said.
“I firmly believe we need a new library,” Sullivan said. “The buildings are really in quite desperate need in renovation. I’m very much hoping that bond passes; we still have a huge problem if it doesn’t.”
A project she is particularly proud of is the development of the Green Belt management plan, which was wrapped up earlier this year.
“It was a lot of fun because it was helping the town in its stewardship of open spaces and actually categorized all them,” she said. “I think it was a really productive effort.”
A common challenge Sullivan anticipates seeing for years to come is the budgeting process.
“I think overall it’s going to be dollars, because this recession hasn’t gotten any better,” she said. “Stewardship of tax dollars is my primary concern.”
Election Day voting is from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. in the Cape Elizabeth High School gym. Absentee ballots will be available approximately 30 days before the election.