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.
I was born in Belfast, and lived in Northport and Belfast. I am one of six siblings and attended ded schools in Northport and Belfast. I have been married 51 years with one daughter, five grandchildren, and six great grandchildren.
I completed high school at Higgins Classical Institute in Charleston Maine, in 1964. I worked summers at the Lobster Pound Resturant in Lincolnville Beach, attended the Hartford Institute of Accounting and graduated from a four-year program in two years in 1966.
I entered the United States Air Force in 1966 and was stationed at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. I was part of the casualty reporting team where we were responsible for notifying the next of kin when a serviceman was killed, primarily in Vietnam, and applying for their benefits, awards, and decorations. I attended Delaware State College after leaving the Air Force. My wife, Geri, and I were married in 1967.
I was a state auditor in Delaware and owned a small accounting business. We moved back to Maine in 1972. I was a state auditor in Maine from 1972 until 1976 and left there to start Seaport Office Supply. We ran that business until 1992. We started in Searsport, then Belfast, the Camden and Gardiner and them moved to Rockland in 1981-82. When Walmart moved to Rockland we were not able to compete.
In 1991, my wife treated me to the Tractor-Trailer Course at the Region 8 Vocational School and I obtained a Class A driver's license which includes school bus, tour bus, tractor-trailer, double trailers, and tankers.
With the foreseeable future of our store closing, I drove a tour bus, like the Greyhounds, for nine years and a total of 600,000 miles. I drove all of Canada from Prince Edward Island to Ontario, through Quebec, Toronto, Montreal, Niagara Falls and everywhere in between. I drove in all states on the east coast from Maine to Florida to Branson, Missouri to North Dakota, Illinois and in between. For a short time, my wife and I operated a tour business called Harbor Light Tours from Rockland.
What are Rockland's greatest strengths, and how do you hope to maintain them?
1. Its people, diversity and spirit.
2. Ability to attract an ever-changing population and business growth.
We can maintain our community if we focus on community and not on a special interest or building an alliance for those who have brought an outside agenda that does not focus on who and what we really are. The true Rockland spirit is ingrained to protect ourselves from changes that threaten to erode and compromise the heritage that generations have left for us.
What are Rockland's greatest problems to address?
1. Lack of adequate, affordable, and efficient housing.
2. High taxes.
3. The dire need for street repairs.
4. Infrastructure to include sewer and stormwater runoff improvements.
5. Exorbitant landfill fees on top of high taxes and service fees including the annual sticker fees.
6. The debate over the Cruise Ship business.
7. The budget process to ensure adequate yet affordable services.
8. The influx of medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries.
9. Finding ways for people to enjoy and grow and prosper in this community
How would you like to see Camden Street (By Walmart and Home Depot) develop, or redevelop? Four years ago, there was much conversation, and plans, to address that stretch. Have you looked at the plans?
First, please understand that Walmart has already moved to Thomaston due to the desire to expand at the Camden Street location but did not win approval from the City of Rockland. I see no need to reenter that debate at this point.
A lot has happened in four years and it is not likely a comparison can be made to today. I am not aware of any current, public information as to whom and when someone might be interested in developing that area beyond what it is today. With the arrival of Ocean State Job Lots, Harbor Freight Tools and Dollar Tree, I suspect unless someone builds on the pad vacated by the restaurant property which has been vacant for years, I do not see or hear of any plans for that area. As for the shopping mall at Shaw's, there are vacant stores there and I do not see that area ripe for future development. Could be, however, no rumors that I am aware of. I do not see any need to review old plans at this point. Any new business might have an interest and that would be great, new tax base we need desperately.
What is your vision for Rockland Harbor and where do cruise ships fit into that vision?
My vision for Rockland Harbor is:
A. This is the people's harbor and needs to be protected from special interest and personal efforts to undermine any effort to overpower those rights to the harbor by everyone forever with unrestricted ownership and authority. There are efforts underway to make changes to the harbor use, ownership, rights, and privileges and those efforts, I can assure you, will be studied and magnified, and dissected, regurgitated, and formulated into a detailed study with no holes barred. This is one of the most valuable resources the people, all the people of Rockland own and can be proud of and assured that they will be able to enjoy, unrestricted forever.
B. Efforts to steer the attention away need to be rebuffed immediately and a thorough research allowed to be completed for examination and debate allowing public input to the extreme. This is a major concern.
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?
1. Thinking this an easy subject to answer here is naive. This is an explosive issue that goes from the folks who have the opinion that these are items that they do not care for, understand about, or want to see whether they are bought, sold, or otherwise.
Many people, on the other hand, claim to need these items for their health treatments and will have a perhaps equally convincing case by case stories to tell.
This is a subject that will no doubt pit businesses against each other, individuals against each other, and businesses against individuals. There is no perfect solution and these may never be a situation where all are going to be happy. However, there is NOT enough information available to make a decision in this forum.
The Rockland process is already tainted by a possible conflict of interest, unfortunately, bring a court action in the fold. This process needs a complete shakedown and an approach that will lay out some legal boundaries and interpretations of just how in light of the federal laws, state laws, and local ordinances can this be fit into a more palatable subject.
Both sides are entitled to the respect of a system that will research and show how this decision(s) will be made. This can not be decided on emotion or personal preferences. The extension of this perhaps will show just how much can a community regulate the placement of a business and be able to defend that against a business that is ready, willing, and able to finance and operate a going business while paying taxes, hiring employees, buying supplies, and products, and being a good neighbor.
Does Rockland need to adjust zoning to accommodate business growth, housing construction and industry expansion?
1. This question is so loaded with concerns I may not be able to find enough space to explain.
2. Zoning is so very different for business, housing, and industry that they need to be separated in discussions.
3. Zoning for all intents and purposes is in place. It may not be perfect to all, but, it is there.
4. Zoning is a case-by-case situation with major emphasis on the already plan the City of Rockland has established and to make any changes requires jumping through a lot of hoops. Many have done it. However, how do you anticipate any changes without a situation coming forward that would need a change. We are not going to change anything, I would assume, without some rational reason. This can not be done willy-nilly
5. Housing accommodations can be as volatile as a business or industry. Efforts are being circulated to stuff little houses into already existing lots with homes already on them. I believe the term is infill. This might be great to add tax dollars but I find it hard to imagine this is the only alternative. Some people who own enough land to do this are spearheading this effort as we speak. Those are for self-interest and not for the sake of the community, possibly.
6. Industry expansion is so complicated and their needs are gigantic in comparison to a single home or a business filling an already empty space. The industry needs major sewer connections, infrastructure changes of unknown proportion which would be determined by the type of industry. A company making strollers may not need the same services as a fish plant or a car manufacturer or any possibilities that might appear in this community.
Adjust zoning for the sake of something to do is not worthy of the time and effort, foreseeing the need without substance is not prudent.
What is the importance of local government, and how do you see yourself, as a city councilor, in it
We have the Federal Government, which wants to control most everything, then we have the State of Maine which wants to regulate everything. Then we have the local governments that have to sift out the minor things that neither the Federal Government or the State of Maine can do to ensure that we are treated individually and respectfully on our own turf.
When we look at local government we want to ask questions that affect us now and where we can actually talk to an individual about. We want a government by the people, of the people, and for the people, we look locally.
We can discuss our taxes in real time. We can talk about a police issue in real time. We can expect our fire department and EMTs to react in real time. We do not want to have to dial a number, then punch 1 for English, then 6 for someone else and so on. I can not imagine what it would be like if we needed to go to the state government to discuss our sewer bill or get a permit or any of the myriad services we enjoy locally.
I see myself as one who researches issues to provide a balanced presentation, leaving personal feelings and agendas outside of any issue. I deplore efforts to "unionize" or develop personal agendas and efforts to socialize concerns outside city hall. I expect to provide another option. I do not believe in voting just to make it a convenient vote, to make it appear to be "for the unification of the council". No opinion is worthy of sacrificing personal beliefs.
Research is the best proof for a convincing vote. Here is hoping the voters will listen and demand that they get the truth, unfazed by clicks and clandestine parties that undermine the business at hand to be fair and equitable.
How do you see Rockland fitting into the greater regional economy and culture, and how would you like develop that?
Rockland already is an important part of the regional economy and culture. We are the Knox County Seat. We bare the responsibility to provide land for the Knox County Court House, Maine District Court, Maine Superior Court, Knox County Communications Center, Knox County Jail, Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, Social Security Administration, and ample supply of art and museums, Federal agencies, and all the non-profits and not-for-profits, including Pen Bay Medical Center and its various locations.
These are all believed to be of significant importance and a very integral part of the communities surrounding us. This makes us a business-not-for-profit, medical, entertainment, and center for major necessary services that I suspect every person in the tri-county area most likely has a need for at one time or another. I do not see any surrounding community that even comes close to offering such an extensive offering or goods and services.
Development will come as it is attracted. We have a community development office that should be working in this area. They may well be, I can only hope, but I will be checking on this. Drawing change to a large area I assume is not easy having to coordinate the amenities needed to make us attractive. I did explain this somewhat above.
How do you see short-term housing rentals governed in the city?
I am researching this as I am writing. I have a copy of all the current rentals and will pass any definitive conclusion upon more research. I will note that it appears from my information already gleaned from talking to our code office that there appears to be a penchant of these property owners to improve their properties, pay their taxes and cooperate. Other than that I will be happy to make a greater analysis at a later time. I wonder if this leads to a discussion of short-term storage rentals or anything in that area that people might ask about. It does appear that we are on top of this, pro or con.
How do you envision Rockland to be 10 years from now?
1. Well, first, I expect it to be here in 10 years. Whether I am or not is of some interest, only to me, I suppose.
2. I have no crystal ball and quite honestly I can only envision major influences coming to bare. Outside influence will be dramatic unless someone advocates for kind of a home rule philosophy. I envision that in order for Rockland to prosper in so many ways more people need to get involved. That being said, there are so many influences that demand our attention that sometimes the future is caught up in today and we only deal with tomorrow, tomorrow. We need a mix of civic-minded folks to continue to serve in our local government. This process is tiring and takes tremendous effort even in the "running" stages.
Free Space! Anything else you'd like to say to the voters that we haven't considered?
I would rate your questions at a #9. I can not give you a #10 because as my doctor says: "No one is 100%"
If the folks actually read this I believe it is evident that I am concerned with the direction, currently, and in the future, our fair city is heading and maneuvering through. Influences from special interest bring strange bed-fellows. Off-campus meetings are not healthy for the common good, they only serve the self-serving. We need to be above board in our dealings. Conflicts of interest have no place in government, as we all know.
That being said, we are influenced by so many areas that sometimes our best foot is tainted by personal feelings and actions. I promise to research, dig deep, expose and report every issue possible. Turning over stones is my forte. Making a learned decision based on facts is the only way to provide a secure, honest, meaningful future. 35 years of experience in this city has tremendous value. I wish the future were as clear as yesterday but it is not. I can and will make every effort to have earned this privilege and pass a better baton to the next.