On June 13, voters in Camden will elect two citizens from a slate of five candidates to serve on the Camden Select Board. There are two open seats this June, both three-year terms. Current board chair Robert Falciani is not running again, but incumbent Alison McKellar is seeking a third term on the board. She is joined by former Camden Select Board member Marc Ratner, who is hoping to return to the board. They are joined by Christopher Nolan, Raymond Andresen and Mary Beth Thomas, all hoping to represent the town.
Penobscot Bay Pilot has posed questions to each candidate, providing the opportunity for the public to better understand their position on issues important to the town and region. Here, Christopher Nolan discusses his position on various topics.
Please provide a brief biography of yourself and explain why you decided to seek a seat on the Select Board.
I am a long-time Camden resident who has resided in the area since 1978, except during time serving on Active Duty as an Army Logistics Officer. I graduated from Camden-Rockport High School in the mid-1980s. Currently, I work full-time as the Director of the Information Technology Audit Department in the Risk Management Division of a consulting company who primarily serves financial institutions in the New England area.
As many know, my wife Heidi and I raised three children, all who graduated from Camden Hills, and who are now on their own in various professions. My parents, Jim and Bev Nolan, are also know for their service-oriented contributions in Camden.
.The primary reasons for joining the Select Board was to bring about a change to the Board where: People of Camden are listened to, there is communication with the community, and trust of the Board, and there is accountability in the performance of the Town’s governing.
What are the three most pressing issues facing Camden today, and how would you like to see them resolved?
• Re-establish the trust in the local government and Board by:
- Bringing the issues to the people of Camden to a vote given materials that educate the people of Camden on such issues as the Megunticook Watershed/Montgomery Dam maintenance and the Tannery property.
- Handling issues that are brought to the select Board with research and decisions based on facts.
- Re-establishing the strength and support of the committees.
Resolve the short and long-term issues with the infrastructure while also considering the impact of climate change. Infrastructure issues include: maintaining the Montgomery Dam, holistically managing the Megunticook Watershed, continuing to resolve and maintain/upgrade the wastewater treatment issues.
Foster job growth that bring full-time employment well-paying jobs to the area.
How will you protect the Camden taxpayer as you govern a municipal budget and juggle various interests that request municipal funding throughout the year?
Be fiscally responsible through working with the Budget committee, and respecting their work, expertise, and recommendations.
When new items are brought to the Select Board for decisions, both the pros and the cons will be expected to be discussed so the people of Camden would know the short and long-term costs and budgetary impacts related to various projects and initiatives.
What is your opinion of the Megunticook River restoration project and what do you envision as the future of the Montgomery Dam?
- Maintain the current dams owned by the town, and fix the Montgomery Dam in the short term.
- Overall, manage the Watershed holistically by engagement with all stakeholders including the neighboring towns, landholders, and local businesses who are directly impacted. Ensure the committees that are charged with making recommendations are well represented by all sides of the issues.
- In the short-term, update the policy and procedures to cover all of the dams along the river to enhance their management and expectations.
- As part of a long term plan, make sure we maintain the safe and efficient operation of the dams to ensure we are protecting the store owners and community who reside along the watershed. I am supportive of investigating automated flow control and measuring devices to enhance the safety and efficiency of managing the watershed.
- Until we can better communicate with each other to decide on the bigger ramifications of climate change, its costs, its impacts, and the watershed as whole, we should be actively managing and preserving what we have.
How will you vote on the 2023 June Town Warrant Articles 3 and 4, the proposed amendments to the Code for Retail Adult Use and Medical Caregiver Cannabis?
- I prefer Camden to retain the character of the town without having an Adult Recreational Use Marijuana shop.
- There are many towns in Maine who retained the 1,000 foot restriction in accordance with Maine Law. The lists of restrictions in other towns’ ordinances addressing similar shops are extensive, and I feel this proposed change to the ordinance is too self-serving by the businessman who wrote it, and it is not comprehensive nor restrictive enough.
- Important to note, as I have heard complaints about how these two ballot item were written: At the bottom of the Articles, it states the Board Voted 4-1. This only meant that the Board voted 4-1 to put the articles on the ballot, it does NOT mean that the Board is for the Pot Shops – some think this statement is misleading and reads in support of the Article. I agree. A board member did prefer wording that was more clear such as: “The Board Voted 4-1 to put this issue on the ballot”. But this more clear wording, that may have been more clearly stated, was not approved by the current Board members..
How do you see Camden positioned in the larger regional Mid-Coast economy?
- Camden is a unique location, and it is the jewel of the Midcoast. Camden is the major tourist attraction that brings in many visitors and enhances the Mid-Coast economy. For example, the Camden Hills State Park lead all other Maine State Park visitors last year. Other towns in the area do offer more manufacturing jobs or industries that may be perceived as less clean than what the residents in Camden desire to have in the town.
- There are some very well run service-based organizations that also provide the town with many well-paying jobs, and there is also a small percentage of people who are able to work remotely while residing in Camden. We should have more of both of these.
- The demographics of the town are aging, as it is tough to keep many of those in the 20-40 age bracket. If our population continues to age, we will need to have a work-force and services that can accommodate the over 50 bracket.
What would you like to see for the future of the Tannery Park on Washington Street.
- We should document to the public, in a condensed form, a reconciliation of the engineering firm’s recommendation and the extent of remediation to ensure that the Tannery property is safe for use.
- Once a concise report can be made to the public of the remediation and safety status, uses of the Tannery area should be put to a town vote once the costs and considerations for various uses are openly disclosed to the people of Camden.
- Although the 2017 Comprehensive Plan stated to sell the property, finding a clean business with the desire to handle the costs associated with the possible unresolved contamination issues, has not come to fruition.
Camden has a lack of workforce housing, as articulated by the current Select Board. Do you agree, and if so, what remedies would you suggest?
- Camden does have an issue with its housing cost as do most all highly desirable locations.
- As noted in the Comprehensive Plan, we should work with our neighboring communities for other housing availability.
- Part of the equation of affordable housing is having good paying jobs. I am in support of working with the Penobscot Bay Chamber of Commerce to find ways to develop better paying jobs in the community.
Camden has been governed by a five-member select board for decades (it once was a three-person board) but in recent years has informally discussed moving to a city council form of government. What is your opinion having a select board vs. a council form of government?
Select Board should remain with a Town Meeting form of government where no one person has too much power, and the people in the town retain their voice and the ability for each town citizen to vote, comment, or petition on the workings of their democratic government. I prefer the hybrid approach of a Town Meeting ahead of the Vote to enable voices to be heard and to enable informed decisions on the vote.
In 2013, Camden voters approved a $2 million bond to complement a $4.5 million private fundraising effort to fund a redevelopment project at the Camden Snow Bowl, including the construction of a new lodge. To date, a new lodge has not been constructed. Should a new lodge be built?
- A new lodge should only be built if there are expected revenues to cover the cost. If there are meaningful ways to pay for a new lodge through new events that cover the cost, then it should be considered.
- The town has a responsibility to take advantage of the resources already at hand and investigate and share what needs to be upgraded to support the lodge. There may be some less expensive fixes and upgrades that would breathe more life into the existing lodge.
Where is your favorite place in Camden?
I prefer the places in Camden where I can enjoy the views of the mountains and waterfronts, and Camden has many of those. Whether it is being on a boat entering the harbor and viewing the harbor entrance, riding my antique motorcycle along Megunticook lake, viewing the harbor and surrounding areas from Mt Battie, Mt Megunticook or the town landing and parks, having my lunch in the Village Green next to the Veteran’s Wall, or being at home, there are many beautiful places that I enjoy.
Free space! Please add additional thoughts as you see fit.
- Thank you for reading and considering my responses to the questions posed by Pen Bay Pilot. My approach to work and the Camden Select Board includes being pragmatic, using common-sense, being realistic, fair and professional, and conducting the Town’s business in public for the public. My experience with corporate governance auditing will be an asset to the community, and having a long residence history with the town has me determined to support the people of Camden and the community in which I grew up.
- During the last couple of weeks leading to the Vote on June 13, do not be surprised if I greet you along the street or at your house to further introduce myself to those who may not yet know me, and to rekindle the relationships with those who may have known me or my family through the years.