Brunswick councilors elect Wilson, Knight as leaders
BRUNSWICK — Councilor Suzan Wilson of District 3 was elected Town Council chairwoman Monday night after she, at-large Councilor John G. Richardson and District 4 Councilor John Perreault were sworn into office.
All three won uncontested races on Election Day last November.
Wilson had unanimous support from her colleagues in the leadership vote, as did Councilor Margo Knight of District 6, who was elected vice chairwoman.
"I am humbled and challenged by this role," Wilson said. She promised she will be "fair, friendly and firm."
Richardson, a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate who replaces former Chairwoman Joanne King on the council, said balancing the needs of public education funding with redevelopment efforts at Brunswick Landing will be his major focus.
Prior to his unsuccessful bid for governor in 2010, Richardson was commissioner of Maine's Department of Economic and Community Development from 2007-2009. Before that, he was the House Speaker for the 97th Legislature and served in the House of Representatives from 1998-2006.
In the Legislature, Richardson sponsored legislation that led to the creation of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, which is in a disagreement with the town over the tax status of Kestrel Aircraft at Brunswick Landing.
Now that he's a councilor, Richardson said he wants to correct the balance between public education funding and local redevelopment efforts - a balance that he says currently favors the latter.
"The issue of tax relief for corporations is going to have a direct impact on local school funding," Richardson said. "There's a lot of talk about corporate welfare for Kestrel, but you're not hearing enough about the need for local school funding."
The School Department received a hit when Maine's Department of Education announced Brunswick's state school subsidy would decrease by $1.24 million. Now it faces a possible curtailment of $235,000 for the current fiscal year.
The department is developing plans for renovations of two schools, something that might cost the town $21 million when the project goes to bond later this year.
"Brunswick is a local education town, and we pride ourselves on having a strong education system," Richardson said, "and we're in jeopardy of losing the benefit of our local public schools if we are moving too far in one direction."
The Town Council will next meet on Tuesday, Jan. 22.