My name is Michael Hurley and I am running for the Belfast City Council. I’ve been a resident of Belfast for 41 years.
I am one of five brothers and one sister. I was born in Germany in 1950 where my American father and mother were working after World War II.
I come from a turbulent upbringing. My mother quickly became a single mom with five boys. She worked four jobs at a time from early to late. We received food stamps and donated foods.
I was told at a young age that if I wanted something more than the basics of shelter and food to get a job and I’ve been working ever since.
I’m a failed homesteader who came into Belfast from the woods of Maine to make a living. We moved upstairs over what is now Chase’s Daily and opened my first real business, the Belfast Café, on the corner of Main and High.
Belfast was a struggling town though I was too young and welcoming of it to recognize just how challenged we were. At the time there was about 40 empty stores in downtown Belfast, much of the town was a wreck after many years of low wages and a city government suffering from austerity and changing times; there was an unemployment rate of almost 18% and it was about to get worse.
In quick succession we lost the chicken farming and processing industry, the shoe manufacturing industry was later to be followed out of town by the sardine packing and the railroad.
Times were tough and many adults and children of Belfast headed south to make a living.
But in the ashes we came together.
I came of age fighting alongside my neighbors to improve Belfast step by step, recreate and reimagine who and what we could become.
None of it came easy.
There were many voices demanding we take different directions just like today. But we had good examples from all across America that said to us: make your town a better town, where people want to live, and it will turn around.
Ever since I’ve been committed to working for the city and the people that gave me my home town for life. We’ve seen enormous changes in the last 40 years. We are going to see more.
People everywhere love Belfast. We are recognized as a real town and not just a stop for visitors. I love and know Belfast’s diverse people but I have a special place in my heart for the working people of Belfast and Waldo County who often are reluctant to speak up.
Many Belfast residents forget, or do not know how hard some people’s lives are.
I never forget it.
If I am elected I’ll continue to work to make Belfast a good place to live for all and I’ll be focused on a better Belfast with real economic opportunity, increased affordable housing, and fighting to lower our property tax burden while building and maintaining a strong city that we can all be proud of.
Please vote on Tuesday Nov. 5. Thank you for the opportunity to serve Belfast.
Michael Hurley lives in Belfast