Incumbent Cape Elizabeth town councilor faces 2 challengers
CAPE ELIZABETH — The Nov. 5 election has one incumbent and two first-time candidates competing for two Town Council seats.
Councilor Caitlin Jordan is seeking a second term, and is challenged by Imad Khalidi and Martha MacAuslan. Councilor Frank Governali decided not to seek re-election.
One of the biggest issues facing the town is the future of Thomas Memorial Library. In last November's election, voters soundly defeated a referendum to borrow up to $6 million to build a new library. Since then, a library planning committee has been formed to guide what will likely be a more modest construction proposal.
In the coming year, the council will also deal with the 2013 Draft Greenbelt Plan, and disputes over its treatment of farmland and paper streets, as well as the ongoing spat between the Spurwink Rod & Gun Club and its neighbors.
Jordan, 30, of Old Ocean House Road, is a Cape Elizabeth native. She studied psychology and played ice hockey at New England College in Henniker, N.H., where she graduated first in her class and had the highest GPA of any four-year athlete in the school’s history.
She attended the University of New Hampshire School of Law before returning to Cape Elizabeth to help run the family business, Alewive’s Brook Farm. She also manages her own law firm, Farmer’s Daughter Legal Services, and coaches hockey.
Jordan said voters made it clear that $6 million was too much for the town to spend on a new library.
“I'm not opposed to a new library, I’m just opposed to spending a whole lot of money on a big space that we don't need,” she said.
Jordan and her family have objected to a proposed trail on the 2013 Draft Greenbelt Plan that crosses Alewive’s Brook Farm. Jordan said her family’s specific issue with the plan is indicative of a larger problem.
“I think we need to review the process that the Conservation Commission uses to generate that plan, so what happened this time around doesn't happen again, where they upset so many property owners and people’s property rights seem threatened,” she said.
With regard to the gun club controversy, Jordan said she doesn’t have much sympathy for those who have taken issue with the club.
“The Rod & Gun Club has been there forever,” Jordan said. “As long as it’s safe, I don't see any problem with it. Noise is not a safety issue. If you build a house next to a rod and gun club, you're going to hear gunfire in the background. It’s kind of a given.”
Jordan said she provides a unique perspective that’s valuable to the council.
“My viewpoints and positions on things, my understanding of the way things should be, represent a varied segment of our community," she said. "Farmers, self-employed people, whose voices won’t otherwise be heard or voiced on the council.”
Khalidi, 61, of Pilot Point Road, is seeking his first elected office.
Khalidi was born and raised in Jerusalem. He studied at a French Jesuit school and considered joining the priesthood before enrolling at Birzeit University in Palestine.
He lived in Paris during his 20s and 30s and moved to Camden in 1990. Shortly thereafter, he took over Auto Europe, a car rental and travel services company for international travelers. It had fewer than 10 employees; today it has more than 500, Khalidi said, with offices in Germany and Australia. Its headquarters are on Commercial Street in Portland.
Khalidi said his top priority on the council would be ensuring that the town’s schools and their students have the resources to be as strong as possible. He also expressed concern about marijuana and drug use among teenagers; he advocates expanded drug education in school as the best way to curb usage.
On the topic of the library, Khalidi said the conversation should focus less on the building and more on what’s inside.
“We don't need the JFK Library,” he said. “We need the books and the technology updated before anything else. I'm not saying $6 million is too much or too little. But let's make sure the content is where it needs to be, and then look at the building.
“The library is not for me and my generation. When you put up a library, you're looking 25 and 50 years ahead. Do those users want a prestigious building? Or do they want content first – laptops and tablets?”
Khalidi has reportedly filed formal opposition to block the proposed Surfside Avenue trail that runs through the Shore Acres neighborhood in the 2013 Greenbelt Draft Plan. He declined to answer questions on the subject, saying, “Because I'm in the middle of this crisis, I have to recuse myself from discussing what I think.”
He said he is running for Town Council for a lot of reasons, but the Greenbelt plan is not one of them.
“This country has given me so much,” Khalidi said. “I have to give back. I came into this town as an immigrant. People welcomed me. People were very warm to me. The way to give back is to serve my town.”
MacAuslan, 54, of Park Circle, also seeking her first elected office.
MacAuslan grew up in Naples and studied religion and philosophy at Mount Holyoke College. She worked for a tech company in Cambridge, Mass., and returned to Maine in 1990.
She worked as the director of facilities for Cole Haan for five years before starting her own real estate consulting business in 1995. She owns and manages several local properties and is chairwoman of the Library Planning Committee.
MacAuslan, who is also a Thomas Memorial Library trustee, said fiscal responsibility is essential to the library planning process.
"One of the things we have heard loudly and clearly from voters is that something needs to be done to the building, and what was proposed last time was too expensive," she said. "We’re recommending that the council spend people’s money, so we want to be very responsible about that. "
MacAusland said the building's design needs to reflect the future uses of libraries.
"Form follows function," she said. "We need to look at the programs and services that we anticipate will be offered in the library in Cape Elizabeth in the next 25 years. The building should address and accommodate those needs. What we’re not looking to do is build a beautiful box and then say, ‘We’ll make it work for a library.’"
MacAuslan said she hopes she can contribute to resolutions in both the Greenbelt and gun club disputes.
"There needs to be ongoing dialogue and negotiations and good faith efforts from both sides to work together to get results," she said.
But she would much rather focus on Cape Elizabeth's budget, finances, expenditures, taxes and capital planning.
"Those issues have broader consequences and implications for everyone in town," MacAuslan said. "So those, to me, are the most interesting and most pressing issues. That's where I think I have the most to contribute.
"I have 25 years of business experience, specifically real estate and facilities experience," she said. "I certainly have the passion, the time, the energy, the commitment and the professional ability to get the job done."
The polls will be open Nov. 5 from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. at Cape Elizabeth High School, 345 Ocean House Road. Absentee ballots are available at Town Hall, 320 Ocean House Road until 4 p.m. on Oct. 31.