On the issues: Union Select Board Candidate James Justice

Mon, 07/13/2020 - 12:15pm

    On July 14, voters in Union will choose two of four total candidates to serve on the Union Select Board, filling two seats. 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.

    Please provide a biography of yourself. 

    A Charlestown, Mass., native, I have been traveling to Union since 1960.

    After retirement in 2001, from a publishing company, I moved to Union. After settling in to my new lifestyle as a Unionite, I volunteered at the Union Fire and Ambulance and went to EMS school. I felt the best way to get to know a town is to participate,

    I started to volunteer on several committees and activities; Founders Day, Memorial Day Veterans, Masons, Methodist Church, Union Fair, TCC, and the Youth Recreation Committee.

    In 2004, I ran for selectperson and for the next 15 years worked with the citizens of Union to make some changes in our community.

    Today, 2020, I have decided to run again, there are many issues still in need of positive change in our town and I feel I can make a difference.


    What are Union's greatest strengths, and how do you hope to support them?

    The greatest strengths are the community and town management. The community is very supportive of one another. The management is always listening to the community and keeping the select board informed on issues to be addressed.


    What are Union's greatest problems to address?

    Property taxes is always a great concern of the town, balancing the budget without raising the mil rate will always be a concern of mine, housing is another problem to be addressed in Union.


    Does Union need to adjust zoning to accommodate business growth and housing construction?

    When the need to adjust zoning, laws are brought to the table, we will consider each individual request. So, yes sometimes there is a need to adjust the zoning rules.


    Given the shortfall of housing in Maine, how should your municipality approach the need for more workforce housing, as well as re-entry housing for the formerly incarcerated, and emergency shelter for those suffering through extended power outages?

    The Town of Union has an excellent emergency plan for extending power outages and natural disasters. The issue of housing in the town is still up for discussion. There are many who feel we do need housing and others feel we do not. More research on the topic of housing, needs to be addressed and a comprehensive plan and report developed.


    What is the importance of local government, and how do you see yourself, as a potential select board member moving forward, in it?

    We need to listen to the people, for the past 20 years I have been available for our community to tell me what they feel would help move this town forward. As a select board member, I will listen and bring concerns forward to the full board for discussion.


    How do you see Union fitting into the greater regional economy and culture, and how would you like develop that?

    The farming culture of Union needs to be preserved, the farmers who need economic support from the town needs to be addressed. The up and coming small businesses in the town need to be addressed, the need for elderly housing need to be addressed. To grow the regions economy and culture we need to listen to all concerned.


    Where are your favorite places to spend time in the Union community?

    My home and walking, the center, and supporting local businesses in town.


    What is your opinion on how Gov. Mills’ administration has handled the pandemic in the State of Maine?

    I would say a lot of difficult decisions had to be made. The State of Maine came together and did what needed to be done when the initial stay at home order was given. However, the administration needed to hear the voices of the communities. I feel we were slow in opening some businesses. The issues with unemployment need to be addressed.


    If there is a second wave of COVID-19 in the near future, how would you seek to shape how Maine responds the next time around?

    A look back at what worked well and what did not, + need to be part of our plan for the future. If there is another wave of COVID-19, we as a state need to be sure our technology is sufficient to run smoothly. Committees should be implemented an up ready to go, where they will work together and listen to the citizens of this state.


    What is your vision for the Thompson Community Center's future?

    Two years ago, the select board had a vision of turning the TCC into affordable housing for the aged. The outside source who was going to renovate and repair the building was going to keep the food pantry, gym, and the thrift shop. The renovations and repairs were financed by an outside source and would not cost the town any increase in taxes. I would still like to see the TCC become a form of housing.


    What is your opinion regarding the possible sidewalk project from the Post Office to Ayer Park?

    The sidewalks in the village are in poor condition and need to be repaired. The town is divided about whether we should do this work or not, in this case I would hope the town would come around and agree that the poor conditions really make it necessary for the work. Adding sidewalks from the Post Office to Ayer Park is a different case. Once again, the town is divided and we must carefully listen to the concerns of the property owners along this route.


    Free space! Anything else you would like voters to know about you?

    I listen to the people of the town. I have a great feeling about what they want and need. I will vote with the town. My motto is “Justice for All”