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SOUTH PORTLAND — There are two candidates running for one seat in a special Town Council election.
The winner will fill the remaining half of a three-term being vacated by Councilor Shawn Babine, who resigned effective June 10. Babine was elected to the state House of Representatives last November. His council term expires in November 2020.
Jessica Holbrook, a former town councilor and former council chairwoman, is on the ballot along with John Cloutier, who has no experience in town government.
Voting will take place June 11 at Scarborough High School, 11 Municipal Drive, from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Early absentee balloting is available at Town Hall during regular business hours.
Cloutier said he is running because he believes his financial background could be an asset to the community. While he doesn’t have a lot of political experience, he said his engagement in local politics over the past two years gives him a vantage point.
He said the strongest need lies in improving school facilities, and that the library is in need of modernization and expansion. He believes he could help brainstorm ways to pay the costs without increasing the tax burden on residents.
Like Holbrook, Cloutier said the biggest issue facing Scarborough is how people communicate with one another. He said people with differing political beliefs sometimes have a difficult time discussing sensitive topics, and anger can erupt from those disagreements. He said he hopes to find a practical, rational solution to bridge the gap in the political divide.
Cloutier said the project to turn Scarborough Downs into a village center will be beneficial to the town and grow the tax base in a responsible manner. He wants to find the right balance between private and public participation in town matters, and hopes to help Scarborough save tax dollars.
Cloutier said he wants to push toward more affordable housing and understands the difficulties that come with making it happen. He said transportation and community spaces, such as libraries, are areas that Scarborough hasn’t given enough attention.
“Residents should vote for me because I’m a reasonable guy. I tend to look at all sides of a problem before making a decision and gravitate toward practical solutions,” Cloutier said. “It’s important to identity what needs to be changed and maximize the impact. This one-year term is a good way for me to try it out.”
Holbrook said she is running because she knows the importance of addressing unrest in the community and finding ways to better tackle difficult conversations.
She said the biggest issue currently facing Scarborough is that there are not enough people listening and talking to each other. Community dialogue, she said, is important and should be strengthened through outreach and public forums.
Holbrook said she would like to put focus on historic preservation and housing. She noted the school budget validation referendum, also on June 11, could be an important, immediate task if it fails to pass. The $56 million school budget, however, is going into the annual referendum without any organized opposition.
“While I hope to tackle a lot of things, a one-year seat is not enough time to really work on anything,” Holbrook said. “I’d like to work on the Piper Shores initiative, the Comprehensive Plan, gross management, buildings and more.”
She said voters should support her because she is able to work with councilors of varying viewpoints and backgrounds, and that while working with the residents of Scarborough is important, it is equally as valuable to be understanding and tolerant of differing opinions in the workplace.
“I am deeply rooted in the community. I’m from Scarborough, I’m multi-generational,” she said. “It really is a great community. I hope I can help make it continue to be a great community.”
Age: 44 years old
Address: 9 Wildwood Lane
Occupation: Owner of Beachwood Motel in Old Orchard Beach
Political/civic experience: None
Social media: Facebook page, Cloutier for Council
Jessica L. Holbrook
Age: 37 years old
Address: 137 Beech Ridge Road
Occupation: Hairstylist, small business owner in Old Orchard Beach
Political/civic experience: Former town councilor, former council chairwoman
Social media: Facebook page, Jessica Holbrook for Scarborough Town Council