On the issues: Camden Select Board Candidate Raymond Andresen

Thu, 05/11/2023 - 9:45pm

    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, Raymond Andresen 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.

    My wife Wendy and I moved to Camden permanently in 2006 after having vacationed here for the previous 20 years.  

    Earlier in life I was a sportswriter and later worked in corporate communications for GE.  In retirement, I have devoted my time and energy to serving the Town of Camden and its citizens in a variety of ways.  

    I am currently on the Budget Committee, Megunticook River Citizens Advisory Committee, Save the Dam Falls Committee, and the National Toboggan Championships Committee.  

    I was chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee for more than 10 years and have served on both the Tannery Work Group and Ragged Mountain Four Seasons Study Group.  In addition, I am the President of Merryspring Nature Center. 

    I’m running for a seat on the Select Board because I want to see more opportunities for public input and discussion on what the Town’s residents see as their issues. During the past two years, I have attended many Select Board meetings and have been disappointed not only with some of the decisions being made but also with the seeming disregard of "what the citizens want."  It’s time we listened to everybody.

    What are the three most pressing issues facing Camden today, and how would you like to see them resolved?

    There are many issues, with different priorities for every voter.  Before I suggest three issues, I would say that the future Select Board needs to provide more opportunities for public input on what the residents see as their issues.  That being said, I would offer the following:

    (A)Sea Level Rise. As we saw in late December, wind and water wreaked havoc with our boardwalk, floats, and other structures in Camden Harbor, necessitating a large, unanticipated expense of almost $200,000. This is not the first time — nor will it be the last — that rising sea levels and storm surges will severely damage the Public Landing, Harbor Park, Steamboat Landing, and other infrastructure. We need to develop a master plan to protect these assets NOW.

    (B) Taxes. (see below)

    (C) Workforce Housing. (see below) 

    How will you protect the Camden taxpayer as you govern a municipal budget and juggle various interests that request municipal funding throughout the year?

    First, I would value the Budget Committee’s recommendations, which was not done this year.  Second, I would be judicious in using reserve budgets and careful about approving items that were not in the approved budget and are not emergencies.  

    What is your opinion of the Megunticook River restoration project and what do you envision as the future of the Montgomery Dam?

    As a member of both the Citizens Advisory Committee and the Save the Dam Falls Committee, I hope that we can find an acceptable compromise that preserves the Montgomery Dam and Falls at the head of Camden Harbor while also improving the resiliency, ecology, and beauty of the entire Megunticook Watershed.  

    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?

    How I or any citizen votes is a private matter.  That being said, putting this decision to the voters is a good thing and represents the best of small-town government.  

    How do you see Camden positioned in the larger regional Midcoast economy?

    Camden is a tourist-driven economy.  There is a strong ‘Camden brand’ and the Select Board needs to work cooperatively with our small businesses and the local Chamber of Commerce to keep the brand strong.

    What would you like to see for the future of the Tannery Park on Washington Street.

    I have always been a proponent of turning the old Tannery site into a public green space, maybe with a children's playground, pickleball courts, etc., as well as a permanent home for the Camden Farmers' Market.  We need to clean up the construction debris abd make it an attractive feature for neighbors and passersby.

    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?

    The lack of workforce housing is an issue up and down the coast of Maine, but the city of Belfast seems to have taken on a proactive approach to creating more affordable housing. We need to see what other communities are doing and how we can apply their solutions to our Town.

    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?

    I am personally against a city council form of government. For a town our size, the traditional New England Select Board form of government can work very well to serve the interests of our citizens.

     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?

    I believe the Snow Bowl is a tremendous, but under-utilized asset, for the Town of Camden and this entire region.  If we are ever going to make it a truly four-season facility, we will need to build a new lodge; but that will probably take another big fundraising effort in the future.

    Where is your favorite place in Camden?

    Merryspring, of course.