Penobscot Bay Pilot has posed questions to each candidate running for the Thomaston Select Board, providing the opportunity for the public to better understand their position on issues important to the town and region. The candidate responses are posted as they are returned, and are collected on the Pilot’s Elections Resource Page.
Thomaston voters will head to the polls in a special election Tuesday, Aug. 27, to elect a replacement for Beverly St. Clair, who resigned from her select board seat June 12.
Candidates running are Zel Bowman-Laberge, Charles Frattini and Diane Giese.
The election will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the American Legion Hall. The term will fill the Select Board vacancy expiring 2021.
Please provide a concise biography of yourself.
Charlie Frattini has been a resident of Thomaston for just under three years. He arrived here with his wife Emily Gorecki after retiring from the Hi-rise building construction market in NYC. He saw the potential in the old ship captains house on Route 1 and he and his wife have been working on restoring it to its original splendor. Charlie is a former U.S. Marine and is currently the General Manager of Phi Builders & Architects based in Rockport, Maine. Using his excellent managerial skills and construction experience, he has revitalized Phi Builders and has successfully transitioned Phi into the commercial construction market while maintaining a level of excellence in the residential construction industry. Charlie is looking to use his management skills, construction experience, and managerial expertise to the Select Board in an effort to be a part of leading the Town of Thomaston into the future.
What are the three most pressing issues facing Thomaston today and how would you like to see them resolved?
I feel the three most pressing issues facing Thomaston today are
a. Economic Development is a priority. Thomaston lacks a clear and concise path for economic development. I think there are opportunities for growth in the Town which would be beneficial to all of its citizens, however I feel there is no plan for capitalizing on opportunities that potentially exist for the Town. I am of the opinion that the current Town policies are not increasing the prosperity for the Town of Thomaston. Proper planning in economic development can encourage growth in our Town and allow businesses to thrive which would create a Main Street which our citizens would be proud of and would equally be profitable to the Town. Eventually these profits can be passed along to our citizens in the form of stabilized taxes or even potentially tax cuts. The Town of Thomaston is a business and we need more Selectmen who are successful in business to lead Thomaston to its potential. We have large box stores in the business district of Thomaston. As a Selectman I will look into the tax revenue they are producing and how they are integrated into our budget, but small companies and businesses are just as profitable for our Town. The Select Board needs to create a culture which encourages small business to Thomaston. As Selectman I would be open to listening to new ideas from business leaders in and out of the community and work towards creating and developing plans to attract the right businesses to our streets.
b. Taxes need to be stabilized. Without the first issue of economic development being addressed, there is no chance for our Town to have stabilized taxes or even the possibility of lower taxes. As a citizen of Thomaston, I feel the taxes are not treated as a sacred entity but rather a coffer for more monies. As Selectman, I would review the budgets and address spending as a businessman. I hate spending money and if I am elected to a position of Selectman, I feel I would bring a "business" thought process to the Towns budget and spending policies. I have over 35 years of experience in managing budgets that are in the hundreds of millions of dollars and I am confident I would be an asset to the Town of Thomaston.
c. Lastly, I think the Town of Thomaston has taken a backseat in the preparedness of its first responders. The police, fire, and ambulance services have been keep in the dark ages for too long. I have spent time riding along with our police department. As Selectman I will make certain our police, fire, and EMS have the equipment and tools they need to keep all of us safe. While spending time in a police car and in speaking with our untiring officers, I have found that we are NOT prepared for the dangers which exist in our society today. Our officers do not have the proper equipment to combat a serious crime in our Town. With the most recent mass shootings in our country, officers responded with the proper weaponry and protective equipment to combat these terrors. Our officers are expected to combat it with a small sidearm and outdated protective equipment. I do NOT want to wonder why we weren't prepared...after an incident occurs. When damage is done and lives are potentially lost, it is to late to feel like we should have done something different. NOW is the time to prepare and unfortunately no one is looking to the future. There are grants which are available to our Town for the use of our police department but they were not capitalized upon. One reason is the disagreement on where the monies should be deposited. There are strict regulations on how the money is used yet these regulations could not be guaranteed they would be adhered to. I am not intimate with the decision making process that went on in the instance I am speaking about, however, as Selectman, I will review ALL opportunities to better train and equip our police force while staying true to the rues regarding grant monies. This holds true for our Fire and EMS departments as well. The citizens of Thomaston expect our life safety departments to keep us safe and as Selectman I will work on ensuring they are prepared to do that.
How will you protect the Thomaston taxpayer as you shape and govern a municipal budget and juggle various interests that request municipal funding through the year?
I am of the opinion Thomaston is not being managed as a business. If it were, we would not have the financial difficulties we are experiencing. As Selectman I would bring a business mentality to our Town and work to make it more profitable. One area that needs to be managed is our budget. In my business as a construction professional, I live and die by budgets. In order to be successful I must adapt to the conditions that exist at any given moment and work to make well thought out decisions in order to stay on or below my budgets. As a business manager for many years, I did not have the "fall back" of having someone to come bail me out (ie. raise taxes). I work within my budget or my business fails. We need to remove the thought process of, "we can always raise taxes" when dealing with our budgets. That should never be the thought process. As Selectman I would use my business mentality to help to work towards creating a more successful and profitable environment for the Town.
What is your vision for the Watts Block?
I think Watts block is moving in the right direction. Move the Town offices out of the spaces and create a more unique and thriving business environment. Let's discuss my vision for the prison site. That area is a potential economic win fall. I am not of the opinion we should develop the land. I think there are opportunities which exist which could make it a more profitable space for the Town where it could be used by its citizens. As Selectman, I would research how we can make that land profitable and usable to our community.
What is your opinion of the Municipal Facility Relocation proposal to the Laura Libby campus?
I think moving the Municipal Facility Relocation to the Laura Libby Campus is an excellent idea. My only caveat is that it must be done properly. If the construction of the space is not managed properly there will be cost overruns which will be a detriment to our Town and its taxes. I would be lying if I did not feel uncertain that a scenario exists where the Town will be put in a position to pay for extras related to the construction which could have been avoided. As the only construction professional running for selectman, and if I am elected to a position of selectman, I would bring my construction experience to the board. This would be beneficial in understanding the nuances of the project and potentially avoiding a problem before it occurs.
How do you see Thomaston positioned in the larger regional Midcoast economy?
In time and with the proper planing I see Thomaston as a leader in economic development in the mid coast region. We have a beautiful Town with plenty of resources to capitalize upon and as the FIRST real mid-coast Town that tourists pass through I feel we could capture that potential and create a successful economy which would be one to be reckoned with.
Is Thomaston's zoning adequate enough to sustain economic vitality and quality of life?
As a member of the Thomaston planing board (as an alternate) I feel there are opportunities within the zoning of the Town which would create a better business incentive for small businesses to thrive. As Selectman, I would listen to new ideas and make it easy for businesses move to our Town.
What qualities would you like to see in your next town manager?
I have been asked what qualities do I want to see in our new Town Manager. I have heard people say they want a businessman, or someone with social media skills to get the Town involved more. I have even heard someone want the new Manager to be someone who is familiar with the political climate of Maine. I am different. I want a person who has integrity. I want a leader. In the Marine Corps we have a saying...." Lead, Follow, or Get the heck out of my way." As a citizen of Thomaston, I want a leader with integrity. A true leader can know where to get the information he or she needs and which there is no familiarity. He has leaders and managers in the various departments within the Town and will use these individual along with other resources to solve problems and lead the Town in the right direction. This manager will know where to go for answers and this path should be guided by integrity. A true leader is what we need, but we need one with INTEGRITY. I will take that over all other qualifications.
Free space for anything else you’d like voters to know about you and your positions on municipal issues!
I have a busy life schedule. I manage a large construction company for the best person I have ever worked for. I am a husband, father and the renovator of a ship captains house. I use my time wisely and I have thought long and hard about joining the race for the position of Selectman for our Town. I have the time and will find the time needed to represent each of Thomaston's citizens to the best of my ability. I am committed to the success of our Town and will do all I can to make that happen. I feel our Town is divided and at times feels defeated. I am not looking to change it and make it a metropolis or a vision of New York City. I left the city for Thomaston because I truly love the area. It will be my last home. I don't want the heart of Thomaston to change I just want to be given a chance to help Thomaston reach its potential. I immerse myself using all I have to successfully accomplish the tasks I take on and I have a proven track record of that success. As your Selectman, I do not intend on letting that change. Be sure to Vote for Selectman....regardless of who you vote for....be sure to vote.