Penobscot Bay Pilot has posed questions to each candidate running for Rockland City Council, providing the opportunity for the public to better understand their positions on issues. There are two candidates competing for one seat, which carries a three-year term. Voters will consider their choice at the polls Nov. 2. The candidates are Nicole Kalloch, and incumbent Benjamin Dorr. See the entire Rockland municipal ballot here.
Please provide a concise biography of yourself
My name is Nicole Kalloch and I live on South Main Street with my husband and 12-year-old daughter, along with our growing assortment of family pets. I am a Maine native and graduated from Maine Maritime Academy in 2010 with a degree in international business and logistics.
After graduation, I worked for a maritime lawyer and then started working for IntriCon Tibbetts in 2011 as their materials coordinator. My job did not provide much training, so being a self-starter, I decide to take on the project of providing the company with an operational ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. This allowed me exposure to every department in the company.
In 2013, during the sequester and still reeling from the recession, IntriCon announced the business was up for sale, and in 2014 Sierra Peak’s President at the time, John Rockwell, made the purchase.
John put me in charge of commercial production. We made huge improvements to production and turned the business around. In 2017, at age 29, I took over all of the operations in Maine, completely reorganizing and turning Sierra Peak into a successful business. We did that through budgeting, planning, and execution. I enjoy any form of exercise, time on the lake/outside and spending time with my family.
What are Rockland's greatest strengths, and how do you hope to maintain them?
Community, that is why I moved to Rockland. This is such a generous area, if you need help you don’t need to look far. I would like to build on this by being welcoming. When my husband and I travel we always seem to stumble upon someone who knows someone or who has traveled to our area and they always talk about the energy in Rockland, how people are so nice. I love that!
What are Rockland's greatest problems to address?
The narrow tax base, Rockland is facing some serious challenges and will continue to struggle if we do not get our property taxes under control. We need to attract business and housing to Rockland.
Communication, as I have been going door to door, I learned that a large part of the population feels ignored. I have spoken with many in the business community including myself, whom don’t feel like have a voice. I have heard from people who say that they don’t hear about town meetings until the last minute when it involves their neighborhood. It is time that Rockland starts listening to its citizens.
What is your vision for Rockland Harbor and what is your opinion of the Safe Harbor Marina proposed expansion?
Safe Harbor plans on investing in our community. There is little that city council can do at this point to stop the expansion. I think we need to embrace them and make sure that we are granted the easement to use the boardwalk, piers and hopefully an observation deck. We need to negotiate the best contract with them possible and protect the towns interests.
What is your opinion of the proposed Inclusionary Housing Ordinance?
For those who are not familiar with the proposed ordinance, it would force developers of larger residential developers to set aside a percentage as affordable based on the community median income.
I have been calling housing developers all the state and have listened to their concerns and have heard many first-hand experiences. People are not currently building in Rockland for three main, property taxes, over regulation and a lack of a predictable business climate. Inclusionary housing is another example of Rockland turning business away and Rockland will lose if this goes through. We need to encourage developers to come to Rockland and mandating what they must build will discourage them. We need to have an economic development committee that includes people from the business and housing industry.
What is your opinion on these two proposed charter amendments?
Question #6 Charter Amendment
Shall the Rockland City Charter, Section 210(a)(2), be amended to remove the requirement that Special Meeting Notices be published in a newspaper having general circulation in the City, as long as the notice is delivered to local media outlets for distribution to the public and complies with the provisions of 1 M.R.S. §406?
No , people deserve adequate notice.
Question #7 Advisory Question
Do you support amending Rockland's zoning regulations to allow smaller, more efficient, more affordable dwellings?
Yes, I do. I believe that it is the right of the property own to do as they wish with their property as long as the proper infrastructure is in place to accommodate any expansion and safety standards of exit and entry are met.
Is the city on the right path in experimenting with designs for streetscapes and public spaces?
I would like to see the city focus more on people and less on cars. I think Winter Street is beautiful. We should work to make more sidewalks to allow a safe, eco-friendly passage into town.
What is your opinion of the ongoing Police Review Committee, and its scope of work?
This National Movement does not have a place in Rockland. I’ve been told so many contradicting reasons from people on the current council and a past councilor as to why it exists. Rockland should be focused on expanding our tax base. Imagine if we used this energy to bring housing developers and business to Rockland? People need to feel safe in their homes and one primary function of government is the protection of its citizens and private property.
What is the importance of local government, and how do you see yourself, as a city councilor, in it?
Local government is the most important government. It can have the most impact on you and your neighbors. We need to make our government in Rockland run efficiently, effectively and leave personal agenda at the door. I will never put my own interest before those of the citizens of Rockland, I will listen to all sides of each issue and make an educated discission with all the facts. I know that Rockland has great potential and I want to make it the best place to live.
How do you see Rockland fitting into the greater regional economy and culture, and how would you like develop that?
Rockland holds the honor as the Knox County seat and as such should be an example to the surrounding communities. When people travel here to conduct business at any number of the municipal facilities such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, Social Security Administration or Federal Courthouse we should encourage them to stay a bit longer. To enjoy a museum visit, dine at one of our many fine restaurants and browse our unique shops and galleries.
Where are your favorite places to spend time in the Rockland community?
My favorite place in Rockland is Harbor Trail. My husband, our daughter, our dogs and I love to walk summer nights from our home in the South End down around the boardwalk. We love walking in Rockland!
Free space! Anything else you'd like to say to the voters that we haven’t considered?
For my campaign I knocked on hundreds of doors to meet people and hear their concerns; one lady I met stands out in my mind. She has owned her home for 50 years and has seen her property taxes increase from $128 to over $8,000 in that time. She was in tears on her front porch and it broke my heart to see her anguish. When confronted with a vote on a new spending plan I will keep her in mind.
I hope that running for city council encourages more people to run, but specifically women and young people because this is your future. It has been a pleasure running my campaign and meeting so many people. The warmth and support I have received is encouraging and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve.