Lincolnville Board of Selectmen Candidate Josh Gerritsen

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 10:30am

On July 14, citizens in Lincolnville will vote for two candidates, Josh Gerritsen and Mike Ray, to serve a three-year term on the Lincolnville Board of Selectmen. While these candidates are the only two running for the two open seats (Jonathan Fishman is not seeking reelection) 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

I grew up in Midcoast Maine and left to pursue a career elsewhere, like many young people do. I got a degree in environmental studies at Skidmore College and worked as a photographer in New York. After a decade away from Maine, I realized Lincolnville was where I wanted to settle down. I moved back and started a farm called Donkey Universe Farm. I have transitioned to working as a filmmaker full-time making documentary and narrative films. I have served on the Lincolnville Board of Selectman for three years.

2) What are the 3 most pressing issues facing Lincolnville today, and how would you like to see them resolved?

To me, the three most pressing issues are affordable access to high-speed internet, fighting the browntail moth infestation, and continuing to increase public access and use of the harbor. I address high-speed internet in a later question.

The browntail moth infestation has infiltrated every part of Lincolnville this year, my property included. I have scratched my way through this summer like most of us, and there is no easy, inexpensive solution. I encourage residents to consider clipping nests first before resorting to cutting down oak trees or spraying pesticides. I'm confident we will eventually get a handle on their population, but our oak trees won't come back for a generation and pesticides will persist in the environment for years.

The harbor is one of our best assets, but unfortunately it's difficult for residents to take full advantage of it.

The Lincolnville Board of Selectmen had originally recommended funding the design and construction of a pedestrian walkway and waiting area roof structure for our pier as well as the design and environmental permitting of a new boat launching ramp for FY21. But we agreed to pare that back in light of COVID-19 because of the economic stress that has put on our community.

I fully support these projects moving forward next year, and look forward to seeing more residents enjoy the harbor because of them.

How will you protect the Lincolnville taxpayer as you shape and govern a municipal budget, and juggle various interests that request municipal funding throughout the year?

My three years on the Board of Selectmen show a track record of balancing a reasonable budget with funding the projects and programs our residents cherish. I always try my hardest to listen to all sides of an issue and to make the best decision for the community as a whole. I will continue to do that into the future.

How do you see Lincolnville positioned in the larger regional Midcoast economy?

Lincolnville is positioned really well in the larger regional Midcoast economy. Our abundant access to lakes and ponds and our wonderful K-8 school system make us stand out. But we still need increased access at the harbor and more widespread affordable high-speed internet to be positioned competitively.

How do you envision the future of solid waste processing for the four towns; i.e., recycling, waste stream reduction?

The solid waste and recycling landscape has changed drastically in the last year. From the collapse of recycling markets due to China not accepting recyclables from other countries, to COVID-19 disrupting collection of recyclables nationwide, we are seeing seismic changes in the industry.

Our multi-sort recycling system at our Mid-Coast Solid Waste transfer station has served our community very well over the last few decades, but it's time we make the switch to single-sort recycling.

This will allow the staff to safely collect recyclables even during a pandemic.

It will increase recycling rates.

This also means the staff can focus more on diverting material from the landfill and the hopper.

I want to see every item that comes through the gate considered for reuse (think Swap Shop on steroids) instead of going straight into the landfill or hopper. Not only is this the best option for the environment, but it could save our community money too.

How best should all Lincolnville citizens access high-speed, broadband internet?

I have served as the chair of the Lincolnville Broadband Committee since February, and we have been working hard to gather information to help increase access to affordable, high-speed internet for all Lincolnville residents.

Our next step is to send out a survey to the community to get a better understanding of the needs of our residents.

To me, it comes down to either working with Lincolnville Telephone Company to expand their fiber-optic network, or to build and operate our own municipal broadband service. We won't know which option makes the most sense for Lincolnville until we do a study.

What do you see as the future of EMS service for Lincolnville?

There will always be challenges working with other communities jointly on municipal services, and EMS service is no different. As it stands, it looks like Camden and Rockport want an increased level of EMS service and are willing to pay more for it (in the form of a municipally-run EMS service), while Lincolnville and Hope are generally satisfied with the level of service and not willing to pay substantially more.

I see great value in a municipally-run EMS service, but the cost needs to be in line with what our town is willing to pay. I support conducting a study to explore this option. Once we have an idea of what it would cost, I would need to hear from our residents if they wanted to make the switch before I would support it.

How would you like to see the new park between the shore and Route 1 be used, and how should it ongoing maintenance be funded?

Assuming the residents of Lincolnville approve the town accepting the 4.34 acre parcel on Route 1, I envision this new park getting a lot of use. It's a really exciting prospect to have another public area for our community to enjoy, especially one that is on the ocean with amenities such as bathrooms and BBQ grills already installed.

The heavy use of Breezemere Park, Lincolnville Beach, and the Ducktrap demonstrate how much demand there is for public spaces in our town. Ongoing maintenance should be funded like everything else: through the annual municipal budget.

As the Midcoast continues to grow its outdoor and recreational economy, more people and visitors will be boating on lakes and ponds, hiking, and biking. How do you hope to balance demand with environmental protection?

Our community has a solid track record of balancing tourism with environmental protection. I think if we continue to educate boaters on cleaning their boats to prevent introducing invasive plants, and continue to urge people to upgrade their floats to encapsulated versions, we will be in a good place.

Free space! Please add additional thoughts as you see fit.

This may seem like a trivial issue to some, but I would like to see the Lincolnville Board of Selectmen change their name to the Lincolnville Select Board. There is no good reason to continue using the gendered title, and it would be as simple as a warrant article, an approval from the voters, and a bit of paperwork from our town staff. Many towns in Maine have already made this switch. Let's continue in the Lincolnville tradition of being forward thinkers and make this change now.