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SCARBOROUGH — Incumbent Town Councilors Karen D’Andrea and Richard Sullivan Jr. are opposed by first-time candidates Paul Andriulli and James Benedict in the Nov. 8 election for three, three-year seats on the Town Council.
Incumbent Councilor Ronald Ahlquist is running against Planning Board member Kerry Corthell to complete the final two years of the three-year term of Councilor Michael Wood, who is resigning.
Early voting by absentee ballot is available at Town Hall during normal business hours through 4 p.m Thursday, Nov. 3. Voting on Election Day, Nov. 8, will take place in Plummer Gymnasium at Scarborough High School from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
A 55-year-old small-business owner and former firefighter, Andriulli said he’s running on a “common-sense” platform. He said he has an inquisitive and pragmatic nature that will help him face the “situations” that might face the town.
“I’m a do-er,” the 26-year resident of Two Rod Road said. “I’m interested in facing situations as they arise. Life is simple. We’ve got to keep things simple.”
Andriulli, who served on the Town Hall Building Committee, said the town needs to be more aggressive in making people use the town-owned parking lot on Ocean Avenue at Higgins Beach, even if that means doing away with street parking on Bayview Avenue.
He also said the residents of Higgins Beach should be afforded more say in what happens in their neighborhood.
“Scarborough is based on these sub-communities,” Andriulli said. “There are things that affect them, and I think they should have more say. … Things can get so distorted that the common person can’t understand it.”
Andriulli said he would vote for the $39 million bond to build a new Wentworth Intermediate School, but not without reservations. He said he has concerns that the proposed geothermal heating and cooling system hasn’t been tested enough to merit its purchase, and he also said he would be interested in keeping an eye on how the money is spent if the bond is approved.
Long-term, Andriulli said he’d like to see an aggressive plan to develop a “downtown Scarborough” – somewhere people can get out of their cars to walk and shop. He said that when he and his wife have guests, they often end up taking them to Portland.
“There needs to be a little urban area, nothing sprawling,” he said. “A downtown is the only thing Scarborough is lacking.”
Benedict, 63, of Burnham Road, is retired, but consults for the business he started, Wood Construction. He moved to Scarborough 11 years ago and ran unsuccessfully for Town Council last year.
Benedict was the only council candidate who said he would vote against the Wentworth bond. He said the school may need to be replaced, but that the plan on the ballot is too expensive.
“We’re only in the third year of paying for the high school renovations,” he said. “You’ve got people scraping to put food on the table, and I don’t believe this time is a good time to build a school.”
“Wentworth does need to be replaced at an appropriate time,” he said. “But today? No.”
Benedict said he is sympathetic to the plight of Higgins Beach residents, who he said have had to deal with “gross” behavior by some beach-goers. He said part of the problem is that the town hasn’t built a public restroom.
He didn’t offer a specific plan for dealing with parking, but said he’d happily play arbiter between residents and visitors.
“An agreement hasn’t come that was satisfactory to both sides,” he said. “Both sides need to understand it’s got to be fair and reasonable. There has to be compromise.”
Benedict also said he’d try to loosen some of the restrictions that he believes dissuade businesses from building in places like the Haigis Parkway corridor. He also decried the way he said the town drove away Cracker Barrel, which ultimately landed in South Portland.
“That’s a big piece of land that could bring in a lot of tax dollars,” he said. “I’d like to get in there and look for things that would drive me away as a business owner and change them.”
Incumbent D’Andrea, 52, of Willowdale Street, is finishing her first term on the council. She said people will recognize her accomplishments and her engagement.
D’Andrea pointed to her role in putting together a small business town meeting with the local Chamber of Commerce and the Scarborough Economic Development Corp. She also founded Buy Local Scarborough and helped pass a tobacco ban on town beaches and the synthetic pesticide ban on all town-owned property.
“I didn’t just sit at the council and raise my hand,” she said.
D’Andrea, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility and Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence, said the town needs to be more picky about economic development, even when times are tough.
“We can’t continue to keep growing and just saying ‘Welcome, all retail. Welcome, all bio-tech,'” she said. “We’ve got a ton of that and I’m not dissing those industries, per se, but we need more diversity.”
D’Andrea said that by putting all its eggs in one basket the town runs the risk of disaster if those industries tank. She said she’d like to see more green jobs in Scarborough, and a more diverse business profile.
“I’m not saying I have the answer to all of this, but we have the brainpower to do anything we want in Scarborough,” she said. “We just aren’t going the right route.”
D’Andrea said she strongly supports the Wentworth bond. She said investing in schools benefits everyone by attracting businesses to the town. She also said she wanted to increase the school budget before it hit a critical tipping point where programs or teachers would need to be cut.
As for Higgins Beach, D’Andrea said it was a non-issue. She said she voted against the plan that ultimately did away with side-street parking, created a pay parking lot on Ocean Avenue and one-hour spots on Bayview Avenue. She said she wished the parking situation could just go back to where it was before the changes.
“The only thing that needed to be tweaked was to make parking a little more orderly on the waterfront,” she said. The residents “had concerns with behavioral problems and tried to solve it by addressing parking. It had nothing to do with parking.”
A lifelong Scarborough resident, Sullivan, 46, is finishing his fourth year as a town councilor. He was elected to one full, three-year term, and again elected last year to complete the final year of former Councilor Shawn Babine’s term.
Sullivan lives on Eastern Road, is a Portland firefighter and runs his own landscaping business, which he started when he was 17.
“I’ve got Scarborough in my blood,” he said.
Sullivan said the biggest problems facing Scarborough in the next three years will be Wentworth and the school system, which he said called an “unfunded mandate.”
“The schools are the most dynamic thing in the town,” he said. “State and federal budget changes happen every year. It’s always moving.”
He said he is an advocate for schools, but is unhappy with the way the School Board allocates the money allotted by the Town Council. He said wasteful purchases, such as a snow blower no one knew how to use, hurt the schools.
He said the board’s job is to advocate for students and their parents, while as a town councilor, he has to account for everyone, including those not involved with the schools at all.
“If (the schools) really need money, I’ll work my butt off to get it for them,” he said. “But they need to be more conservative, more responsible to the taxpayers.”
Sullivan said he is undecided about the Wentworth bond, but that he is leaning toward voting yes.
The school does need to be replaced, he said. He said he went to junior high school there and the school hasn’t changed a bit since. But he isn’t sure if the price is right. He is also concerned that borrowing $39 million, which could cost up to $66 million by the time it’s paid off, would prevent the town from paying for other things.
Sullivan said it is important to preserve “peace and tranquility” for residents, and as such he is opposed to the proposal for a new privately owned public park at Black Point and sympathetic to Higgins Beach residents.
He said parking on the street at Higgins Beach should be reserved for the handicapped and for Scarborough residents.
“The problem is enforcement,” Sullivan said. “When you don’t have a part-time officer down there, it’s a field day.”
A 57-year-old lifelong Scarborough resident who has served on the council for eight of the last 11 years, Ahlquist is running for what would be his third partial term. He said he likes the short terms because new councilors should have a full three years to get up to speed.
“I’m like a relief hitter,” he said.
Ahlquist lives on Mitchell Hill Road and is a park ranger at Crescent Beach State Park and travelling spokesman for the Maine Department of Tourism.
He said he has a simple vision for the town.
“I don’t want to see a lot of changes,” he said. “I want Scarborough to stay Scarborough.”
Ahlquist said that if he’s re-elected, he’d like to serve on the Ordinance Committee to see what rules can be repealed to make Scarborough more attractive for the “right kind” of development, such as tourism and light industry. He said the down economy is a perfect time to do that work.
That being said, he’s not interested in growth at all costs.
“I don’t want to open up north Scarborough to big business,” he said. “The question is how to respect the need for businesses and the residents.”
Ahlquist said he’d vote for the Wentworth bond because the school is unsafe and the town has a responsibility to provide good infrastructure, including schools. He also said that people who opposed an earlier proposal for a new Wentworth in 2006 should be happy with the scaled-back version presented this time around.
“We just can’t wait any longer,” he said.
He said the town needs to remember its residents as it chases things like more development and more beach access. At Higgins, for example, he said it’s important to note that residents pay a lot in taxes for the right to live there.
“The beach belongs to everybody, but the residents’ concerns do weigh a little more,” he said. “I was in favor of trying the (parking) plan, but if it hasn’t worked, we need to make changes.”
Ahlquist said he has a track record, and pointed to the passage of a circuit-breaker tax cut for the town’s seniors as one of his greatest accomplishments.
“I’m dedicated to making this a place people want to be,” he said.
A relative newcomer to Scarborough, Corthell, 59, has immersed herself in the community in her three years as a resident. She lives on Wedgewood Street and is development coordinator at Spurwink.
She is a Planning Board memberf, has served on the Charter Review Committee, and volunteers for Project GRACE and the Southern Maine Agency on Aging. She ran unsuccessfully for Town Council last year.
Corthell said she’ll be voting for the Wentworth bond. She said she is a fiscal conservative, and believes investing in a new school is the smart choice, rather than throwing good money after bad to maintain the existing building.
Corthell said that after visiting Wentworth and seeing it for herself, it was a no-brainer that the school needs replacement.
“I wish everyone had taken the tour,” she said. “Once they see the problems, everyone is a supporter.”
She said one of her goals as a town councilor will be growing Scarborough’s tax base and working with SEDCO and the Chamber of Commerce to bring jobs to town.
Unlike some other candidates, Corthell said the sometimes strict development standards in Scarborough, especially along the Route 1 corridor, are valuable in attracting businesses.
“The standards we have do a lot to keep us attractive long-term,” she said. In the past, Corthell has said that building and design standards are what keep Scarborough from looking like Saco or Old Orchard Beach.
Aside from business growth, Corthell also said she’s concerned about residential development. She said she worries that there isn’t enough affordable or “workforce” housing in the town, saying that residential development in Scarborough is just “small development after small development of McMansions.”
Corthell said the Higgins Beach parking issue, which pits visiting surfers and beach-goers against residents, is “almost intractable.”
She said all residents, not just the residents of the neighborhood, should have a say in public access. It’s important, she said, to make sure decisions are based on facts and evidence, not just the desires and concerns of any one group.
“I’m not going to pander and tell either group what they want to hear,” she said.
She said she isn’t sure the current Higgins plan is working, but is sure that more respect, time and cooperation will be needed before everyone is happy.
Prior to moving to Scarborough, Corthell worked in financial services, most recently as vice president of risk management for National City bank in Dayton, Ohio. She said her experience gives her the judgment and measured approach need to be an effective councilor.
SCARBOROUGH — Two Wentworth Building Committee members are running unopposed for seats on the School Board, and three incumbent members of the Scarborough Sanitary District Board of Trustees are unopposed for re-election.
Christine Massengill, 43, of Barnswallow Court, is seeking her first term on the School Board. Massengill co-owns Congress Associates, a sales company, and has previously served on the board of Project GRACE.
Kelly Noonan Murphy, 36, of Eagles Nest Drive, is also seeking her first term on the Bchool Board. Murphy, a stay-at-home mom, worked for the Massachusetts Teachers Association before she and her family moved to Scarborough.
The three sanitary district incumbents are Charles Andreson, 63, of Val Terrace; Jason Greenleaf, 34, of Black Point Road, and Robert McSorley, 49, of Chestnut Drive.