On the issues

Rockland Council Candidate Benjamin Dorr

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 2:45pm

    ROCKLAND — Three candidates, Benjamin Dorr, Harold Dale Hayward, Jr., and Brandy Perkins, are competing for one seat on the Rockland City Council. In an effort to better understand their goals and philosophies, Penobscot Bay Pilot sent them all a list of the same questions via email. What follows are their individual responses, as they have returned them.  

    My name is Benjamin Alton Dorr: I live at 45 James Street in Rockland, am 34, and am a graduate of Camden Hills Regional High School and the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont.  I am the son of former Rockland City Attorney Greg Dorr and former Camden/Rockport State Representative Susan Dorr.

    I have been fortunate to live a life here in the Midcoast that has been punctuated with interesting travel and life experiences, such as bicycling through Northern Vietnam with my father, teaching English in El Salvador, hitchhiking around New Zealand, living and working in the United States Virgin Islands, and spending five seasons lobstering off of Vinalhaven.

    My partner, Emily Seymour, and I currently co-own Curator Consignment at the corner of Main St and Tillson Ave. in downtown Rockland.


    What are Rockland's greatest strengths, and how do you hope to maintain them?

    Rockland’s greatest strengths are its natural resources, our hard working and passionate population, and our ideal location, which will allow us to grow as a service, tourism, and arts hub in the Midcoast.  It is possible to support and maintain all of these elements by investing in infrastructure projects, attracting state and federal money to promote the building of affordable housing, and continuing to beautify and revitalize our downtown areas.  


    What are Rockland's greatest problems to address?

    Shrinking Population

    Sea Level Rise

    Tax Base

    Roads and Infrastructure

    Housing Stock and Rising Rents

    Transfer Station

    The Opioid Crisis

     How would you like to see Camden Street (by Home Depot) develop, or redevelop? Four years ago, there was much conversation, and plans, to address that stretch. Have you looked at the plans?

    I have not looked at the plans but am intrigued by what people’s ideas were four years ago. Attracting another big box retailer is not the right answer in either that space or in the vacant J.C. Penny space. We should come up with progressive and creative solutions that can  increase our housing stock while also making those spots more appealing to small businesses, perhaps some kind of live/work space is appropriate, or a small business park in the front with a housing development in the back. As a city councilor I would be excited to help create a long term plan that revitalizes that part of the city.


    What is your vision for Rockland Harbor and where do cruise ships fit into that vision?

    Rockland Harbor is stunning and will always be one of our greatest assets. I fully support efforts to make the harbor(and Harbor Park) more pedestrian, fisherman, and small boat friendly. The current cruise ship traffic provides valuable season extension to some of the businesses on Main Street and we should respect that but I don’t think we should develop and revitalize our harbor with the goal of increasing the number of cruise ships coming into Rockland.


    What is your position on recreational and medical marijuana sales, shops and social clubs in Rockland, and how do you want to see it all regulated.

    I’m not here to promote the use of marijuana but I support medical and recreational marijuana sales in Rockland for a number of reasons.

    1. It is legal. The people who want to start these businesses have worked hard to get the licensing and approval they need to open their shops.
    2. This is a product that people are already using, let’s move this industry out of the dark and create the tax revenue we desperately need as a state and municipality.
    3. The stigma surrounding both medical and recreational marijuana use needs to end. If we want to have a conversation about drug use let’s talk about the weekly police blotter full of OUI’s and the opioid crisis that is doing severe damage to our communities.


    Does Rockland need to adjust zoning to accommodate business growth, housing construction and industry expansion?

    Yes. Zoning is always a work in progress and is something that the city should be willing to adjust as the needs of its residents and businesses change.  Rockland will continue to evolve and we need to use all available tools to accommodate change and protect and improve our quality of life.


    What is the importance of local government, and how do you see yourself, as a city councilor, in it?

    When you need help you first turn to your family and neighbors and local government is a government of neighbors. It provides our most fundamental services and is essential for maintenance of our community, protection, and is also a person's most direct experience of citizenship.  

    I will work hard to be neighborly and receptive to the concerns and interests of my fellow citizens.


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

    Rockland has developed into a world class art’s city and we have an opportunity to continue to build on that momentum. Diverse food offerings paired with a working harbor, a historic schooner fleet, and exceptional services make Rockland the prime midcoast destination.  I excel at collaboration and connecting people and would like to use those strengths to implement the creative, progressive ideas brought before the council.

    How do you see short term housing rentals governed in the city?

    We need to focus our energies on creating more housing which will require us to be creative and work together. More housing stock would mean less demand on the units we already have available, allowing people to receive some rental income from their spare bedrooms and in-law apartments. Property taxes are high so this rental income can be a make or break scenario for people. I feel the interests of all parties should be considered before we make a decision on how to govern these properties.


    How do you envision Rockland to be 10 years from now?

    There will always be new challenges facing Rockland and we will have the benefit of 10 more years of experience in solving problems and pursuing our goals.


    Free space! Anything else you'd like to say to the voters that we haven’t considered?

    Rockland is a wonderful place to call home. We have many opportunities to work together and grow our city and also many challenges to overcome. Often times there is more than one right way to tackle an issue and it can be difficult to decide between two right choices. As a city councilor I will do my best to understand all sides of each topic and make responsible, measured decisions.