June town Meeting, polls

On the issues: Thomaston Select Board Candidate Patricia Hubbard

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 2:45pm
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 June Town Meeting/Elections Resource Page.
 
Patricia Hubbard

Please provide a concise biography of yourself.  

I’m a Mainer through and through, born and raised, with roots in this great state dating back to the 1600s, and have lived in Thomaston since 2004 when I purchased Sally Hill’s house on Dunn Street. 

I have extensive experience helping corporate and nonprofit businesses thrive. After working for years in the corporate world of finance in New York City, I moved into the nonprofit sector where I have served ever since, particularly loving its emphasis on service for the greater good.

My expertise focuses on quickly performing organizational and financial analyses, then building winning teams to get the job done. This work requires good listening skills, vast amounts of patience, common sense, and a good sense of humor, all important attributes for effectively serving a diverse community.

Community participation: In the past I have served on the Owls Head, South Thomaston, Thomaston Solid Waste Cooperative, the Thomaston 4th of July Committee, and the Thomaston Comprehensive Planning Committee.

For the last four years I’ve served on the Thomaston Budget Committee, and was recently appointed to the Knox County Budget Committee. For the last five years I have served as an Adviser to the Knox County Fund of the Maine Community Foundation.

I love hiking, gardening, working in my pottery studio, genealogy research, and travel. I’ve converted my 1/3 acre in-town lot into a haven for pollinators and fellow tree, woody plant and perennial lovers. Come on by.

 

What are the three most pressing issues facing Thomaston today and how would you like to see them resolved.

There are many important issues facing Thomaston today, but to my mind, the three most immediate issues are all inter-related:  (a) moving the town office and the police department into the former Lura Libby school,  (b) building space for our fire and EMS departments, and (c) determining the best use of the Watts Block.

Moving the town office and police department. Last November Thomaston voters decided overwhelmingly to move the seven town office employees and the five-person police department to the Lura Libby facility, and they voted to float a bond of $1.1 million (plus interest of $600,000) to do so.

You would think that would be the end of it but it isn’t. Since that time the inability of our police department to retain officers (which has been going on for years) has moved to the forefront.  On June 11, Thomaston voters will be asked to determine if the town should retain the police department at a cost of over $600,000 in 2020, or contract with the Knox County Sheriff’s Department for four dedicated police officers at a cost of $450,000. That vote will determine next steps regarding the move to Lura Libby and voters may need to go back to the polls. 

Building adequate space for Thomaston Emergency Services: Perhaps the most pressing building need facing our town is housing the fire and ambulance departments. Last fall it was revealed that the fire department building itself has serious structural defects that cannot be repaired, and that the newer fire trucks barely fit into the old building so in answering calls the trucks must be carefully driven out and backed in again. We learned that interior air quality makes it impossible for fire or ambulance officers to sleep in the building. I believe construction of a new emergency services building needs to take priority over any other building project.

The Watts Block: There has been no determination about the best use of the Watts Block once the town office and police department moves out. There have been many suggestions, but no plans have been made and no definite costs have been determined. 

From a financial perspective, all three building issues need to be fully resolved prior to spending a dime. Thomaston needs to focus on priorities, live within its means, yet plan for the future, just like we taxpayers do. My financial, business, and life experience can contribute to that conversation.

 

How should Thomaston resolve its mounting issues with its municipal ambulance service? 

Like many towns across this great state, Thomaston has been through a rough patch with its ambulance service, but with the recent hire of Amy Drinkwater things are looking up. Drinkwater has had much success in the revitalization of other emergency services departments in this county, and I have confidence that she will succeed in Thomaston as well. Our Town was wise in its decision to retain her expertise. Now we need to focus on the building to house the Fire and EMS. That needs to be our top building priority.

 

How will you protect the Thomaston taxpayer as you shape and govern a municipal budget and juggle various interest that request municipal funding through the year?

Frankly, I hadn’t thought of running for Select Board until after completing my fourth year on the Thomaston Budget Committee, and can’t imagine serving on the Select Board without having had that experience. Oversight of municipal finances is a pre-eminent Select Board function. Let’s face it, it’s all about the money – where it comes from, how it is stewarded, and how it is spent. As voters and residents of Thomaston, we all realize we have to prioritize needs, and can only spend or borrow what we can afford. Thomaston is not without resources, but they need to be spent wisely and on the future. If I am elected to the select board, focus on municipal finances will be my top priority.

 

Free Space for additional thoughts 

Communication: I want to see easier access to the Thomaston town government. Civic participation is critical to successful democratic government and our Select Board needs to do all it can to meet our constituents where they are. Some taxpayers live far away or are here only part-time, and can’t attend meetings or vote on important issues, but we depend on their taxes, which are so vital to the prosperity of our town. Some citizens are elderly and without transportation, some work at night, some have young families where both parents work and have no time or energy to attend evening meetings. All these constituents need alternative ways to participate, to easily connect with our town government, and voice their concerns, thoughts, and ideas.

We live in a digital age and investing in an attractive, informative, simple-to-use website that is regularly updated to show off our town at its best and all that we have to offer is critical. It needs to provide easy access to town officials and committees, and provide up-to-date select board and committee meeting agendas, minutes, packets, and videos of the meetings, including live streaming of select board meetings. Easy access to factual information encourages citizen participation. It helps citizens stay abreast of town issues, be aware of future plans, and enables them to make informed decisions in the voting booth. 

To help facilitate that communication, Thomaston is lucky to have fiber optic cable (a resource that many towns would give their eye teeth for) running, undeveloped, right through the middle of town, and has for the last 8 years or so. With fiber optic cable (the fastest form of broadband technology) Thomaston has the opportunity to not only communicate easily and  quickly with its citizens, but also to attract clean, technology-related businesses. Just as important, those young people and families working in the digital economy could contribute to Thomaston’s tax base, our school system, and be a source for much needed younger volunteers. Better communication with all Thomaston citizens will be one of my priorities if elected to the Select Board.

I appreciate your considering my candidacy and encourage you to vote on June 11. Thank you.