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3 Yarmouth council candidates, 2 seats; School Board uncontested

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3 Yarmouth council candidates, 2 seats; School Board uncontested

YARMOUTH — Three candidates are vying for two Town Council seats in the June election, but only one would be a newcomer to the council.

Steve Woods, a member of the Planning Board, is running against incumbent long-time Councilor Erving Bickford and Carl Winslow, who is trying to return to the council after a one-year break. 

In an uncontested School Committee election, former committee Chairman David Ray and newcomers Andrew Tureff and Craig Wolff are running for the three available seats.

Ray, 56, is a lawyer with Bernstein Shur in Portland. He has served six years on the School Committee and said he wants to help work through the district's upcoming transitions. Next year, the school district will have a new superintendent, a tight budget and new committee members. Ray said he is looking forward to offering his experience. He is married and has a daughter in the sixth grade.

Tureff, 53, of Sea Meadows Road, moved to Yarmouth five years ago with his wife and family. They have two children in the Yarmouth schools; a third child is a college freshman. Tureff attended went to Franklin & Marshall College, Fordham University Law School and practiced law for 20 years in Washington, D.C., and New York. After ending his law career, Tureff went back to school and is now an honors history teacher at Greely High School.

He said his knowledge of law, business and education would benefit the School Committee.

"As a parent, a father, a husband, a teacher and an educator, I am a producer and consumer of education," he said. "I am interested in helping in any way I can as a curious and active member of this community."

Wolff, 39, of Bayview Street, has been a Yarmouth resident for three years. As a federal prosecutor for the United States Attorney's Office for seven years, he said his ability to think analytically and ask tough questions will benefit the School Committee.

"The main reason my family moved to the Yarmouth was because of the school system," he said. "I want to have a part in maintaining and improving the schools."

Wolff attended Harvard University, received his law degree from the University of Virginia, and is married. He has two children, ages 6 and 2.

"Being a part of the School Committee is a way for me to serve on a local level," he said. "The system doesn't need huge fixes, but the real challenge is to maintain a quality education while maintaining the budget."

The annual Town Meeting will take place June 2, at 7 p.m., at Harrison Middle School. Residents will vote on the municipal and school budgets at that meeting. The municipal election will take place on June 9 at the AMVETS Hall, 148 North Road, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Erving Bickford

Bickford, 76, has served seven terms on the Town Council since 1978. He said he likes to be involved in town politics and keep busy.

"I think participating in this way is important for the community and part of what should be done," he said. "I'm still healthy and available to do it. I can provide a memory and continuity to the council."

Bickford was born in Lisbon Falls and spent time in Orono and Presque Isle. He was an engineer and worked in the Bickford Transportation trucking business. In 1948 he came to Yarmouth to work on Route 1. In 1969 he built his house on Westcustogo Point. He is married, has three grown children and three grandchildren. He founded the Narrow Gauge Railroad in Portland and serves as the board president.

While he said he is still a conservative councilor, his views have changed over the years. He said he is still financially conservative, "but that ideal might be coming back into popular view now."

He supports development along the Route 1 corridor, and has become more accepting of the proposals of the Gateways Committee, but is concerned about the coast to develop the roadway.

"I do support the direction the (Gateways) committee is going," he said. "But, I think we can do a lot more with a little less money."

Bickford said he does not want any municipal body to be too restrictive with wind or alternative energy ordinances.

"We need to use common sense in a lot of areas, and need to look into wind, solar power and geothermal as sources of energy," he said. "People need the freedom to make their own choices about energy."

He admits to be being "antiquated in the ways of technology," and said social, human interaction is more his style than online social networking.

Bickford said he is in favor of consolidating dispatch with the Cumberland County Regional Communications Center in Windham because of the advantages in service, technology and cost.

He said does not have an election platform, but residents could always talk to him about concerns and he would share ideas with the council.

"I just know that Yarmouth is a nice place to live and visit, and I want to perpetuate that ideal," he said. "I don't want to create any ripples, and don't want to move too quickly in any one direction."

In addition to his council candidacy, Bickford is also running uncontested for a seat on the Water District Board of Trustees, a position he has held for nearly 20 years.

Carl Winslow

Carl Winslow, 77, of West Elm Street, is a life-long resident of Yarmouth. He and his wife have one adult child and two grandchildren.

Winslow attended North Yarmouth Academy, Gorham State Teachers College (now the University of Southern Maine) and received his master's degree in administration from the University of Maine. He worked in the Yarmouth School Department for 33 years as a teacher, principal, director of elementary education and assistant superintendent. He served in the Fire Department for 44 years and was the fire chief for 17. He is the secretary of the Masonic Casco Lodge, the secretary of the Cumberland-Mount Vernon Chapter and is the treasurer of the First Baptist Church.

Winslow was a member of the Planning Board for 10 years, and has served two three-year terms on the council.

"I am interested in the town's affairs, and this is just something I enjoy doing," he said. "It gives me a chance to know what's going on."

Winslow said he knows and understands problems facing the town and has a lot of experience. He also said not many people were running, so he wanted to take out nomination papers. Because it can be a time consuming process, Winslow said someone who has a lot of time or is retired may be best suited for the position.

"There is a lot of research, reading materials and preparation for the meetings, " he said. "Each councilor has to be a liaison to another committee, and has to keep up in the town."

Even though his parents helped to establish the dispatch center before it was run by the town, Winslow said it is a good idea and a good time for the service to be consolidated with the county center in Windham.

"With the technology they have, I'd just assume see the operation move," he said. "There are more people there, more equipment, and it would save the taxpayers some money."

In addition to saving money through consolidating dispatch services, Winslow said it may be too costly to use green housing standards for new development in town.

"I am certainly aware of the benefits, but Yarmouth is already an expensive town to live in," he said. "Those standards may drive the cost of construction too high."

He also said the benefits of wind and alternative energy are substantial, but is concerned with how the turbines would look in resident's backyards.

"I think each case needs to be evaluated on an individual basis," he said. "I would rather see a large power supply for a number of homes, than a lot of individual wind turbines."

Winslow said he is not in favor of big-box developments, but believes a Walgreen's or other small retail business would be acceptable in Yarmouth. He is also in favor of mixed-use space and would like to see a mix of commercial and residential buildings in the future.

Winslow said he does not use social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, and thinks using the town Web site and e-mail are sufficient to keep up with local issues.

"It's hard to keep people interested unless there is a controversial situation," he said. "When you are a councilor, you are out there to be shot at. You have to have a thick skin to do this, but it is fun."

Steve Woods

Woods, 49, is a resident of Glen Road. He and his wife and three children have lived in Yarmouth for eight years.

Woods is the president and chief executive officer of emg3 event marketing agency. He is a member of the Planning Board has actively promoted green initiatives, wind energy and alternative energy legislation. He said he is in favor of using new technology to communicate effectiviely to the public, and said without it, Yarmouth could be at a disadvantage.

"We need a council that represents the times and the residents," he said.

He said he is an advocate of keeping resources in Yarmouth, and does not support consolidating schools or dispatch services. 

"I believe Yarmouth is a special place and we need our community leaders to find new solutions to keep it this way," he said.

Woods said he could help the town by making smart financial decisions, staying aware and informed, taking prudent and decisive action and understanding that sacrifice is inevitable.

As a way to reduce the tax rate, Woods suggests creating an endowment of $1 million within five years. Similar to college endowments, Woods said Yarmouth residents could give back to the community that has provided their families with a strong school system, a parks and recreation department and town services. Each year, the money could be used to benefit schools, parks, recreation, and town services and to help offset taxes.

In addition, Woods said he would explore non-property tax revenue in the form of grants, corporate fees, Clam Festival revenues and contracts with Florida Power & Light.

"The Clam Festival is not a little festival any more and it needs to be managed, made more safe and more professional," he said. "It could be better used to generate money for the town."

Woods also said the Town Council should be more active.

"Being on the Town Council demands active engagement, involvement and awareness," he said. "The role is not to advise and consent and nod your head at recommendations, but to take deliberate steps to represent your constituents."

Woods urged residents to participate in the local election and take a stand on issues.

"I want to challenge residents to vote, because action or inaction has a direct impact on the town," he said. "I think we should never have an uncontested election. Action is our responsibility."

He said a $31 million budget should motivate the residents.

"Lack of involvement is an endorsement for the people who have run over and over for years," he said. "We are entering challenging and critical times. We are losing teachers, resources, and services. I don't want us to be an eroded town, a Yarmouth-lite. I want to bring in money and grow."

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net.