Penobscot Bay Pilot is posing questions to each candidate running for the Searsport Select Board, providing the opportunity for the public to better understand their position on issues important to the town and region.
Six candidates are running for two select board seats: Eric Bonney, Steve Bulloch, Richard Desmarais, Joshua McFarlin, Sandra Otis-Anderson and Steve Tanguay.
Please provide a concise biography of yourself.
I am 51 years old, and have been a Waldo County resident for most of my life. A Belfast Area High School Class of 1987 Graduate. After high school I was employed as a heavy equipment mechanic and operator, in the Rockland area. When that business closed, I changed career paths and entered law enforcement. I have worked for the Waldo County Sheriff’s Department, Belfast and Searsport Police Departments, and currently serve part time as an officer with Islesboro Public Safety. I am employed full time at GAC Chemical Co. in Searsport. I am married to my ultimate best friend Mary, and together we share 3 grown boys and a grandson.
What are Searsport's greatest strengths, and how do you hope to maintain them?
I’ve had the honor of serving the citizens of Searsport for 21 years and the can do attitude of its residents and employees is definitely its strength. My hope is to help stop the loss of good people employed by the town to outside agencies who can offer more money or benefits, we must become as competitive as others and keep excellent people in Searsport.
What are Searsport's greatest problems to address?
The old saying “That’s how we’ve always done it” just doesn’t cut it any longer. Searsport has remained stagnant while all others around us have moved into the millennium. Our Police Department needs another full time officer for the day time, our Highway Department desperately needs a full time maintenance mechanic, there are roads that have been on a re-pave list for 3 years yet are near impassable. The citizens deserve better, they deserve answers as to why this cannot be done beyond “we can’t afford it.”
Does Searsport need to adjust zoning to accommodate business growth, housing construction and industry expansion?
I believe what we have in place currently is good, but history has shown that the town has not been quite so business friendly, this needs to change as fast. If we can overcome the fear of the “Big Box store” or “Urban Sprawl” the houses we see for sale will refill, the store fronts will survive and quality expansion will follow.
Should Searsport be more receptive to alternative housing proposals, such as emergency shelters and reentry programs?
I’m not a big fan of any of the 3, I hate to sound negative but unfortunately these shelters and programs, as well intended as they are, seem to attractive problems that are very difficult to get rid of. New housing units are inevitable if expansion is allowed to happen, but adequate public safety will be required to handle this growth.
What is the importance of local government, and how do you see yourself, as a potential select board member moving forward, in it?
Local government has a long and storied history, without it a town’s citizens have no voice. I’ve always maintained that there are two places where political parties and political views have absolutely no place in society, Law Enforcement and Select person. As Selectmen we are charged with the good of the people,all of the people and as such those people, rich or poor deserve the absolute best service we can give them. My hope is provide the town of Searsport with an open mind, listening to both side of the story and making the best decisions for the future .
How do you see Searsport fitting into the greater regional economy and culture, and how would you like develop that?
Unfortunately Searsport has looked at its future in the rear view mirror for many years, now trying to play catch-up is going to be a task of epic proportions. If we are going to fit into any part of the regional economy, we need to begin offering commercial zoned property to proven businesses in an aggressive way,and stop allowing fear and misinformation to continually be our demise for success and growth.
Where are your favorite places to spend time in the Searsport community?
Our local waterfront has always been my “go to” place when I worked for the Police Department. It’s where I drank my morning coffee, it’s where I would type reports and complaint narratives and it’s where I could usually be found when I had a few minutes of down time. It’s also a place where I think expansion and improvement for the public would be a huge asset to Searsport and its visitors.
Free space! Anything else you'd like to say to the voters that we haven’t considered?
If I’m lucky enough to be elected as Selectmen, my goal is to be as approachable as I was as a police officer. Your complaints and concerns are legitimate and need to be addressed. We have an exceptional group of people living in and employed here in our town and all of them deserve to be treated as such, paid as such and appreciated as such. I hope to help make that happen for everyone.