On the issues

Rockport Select Board Candidate Delores ‘Michelle’ Hannan

Sun, 08/16/2020 - 6:30pm

    On August 18, voters in Rockport will choose two of three candidates to serve a three-year term on the Rockport Select Board. 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. Here, Candidate Delores “Michelle” Hannan discusses her position on various topics.

    Please provide a biography of yourself

    I am a lifelong resident of Rockport. I grew up on Union Street and moved to West Rockport in 1986.

    I am a 1990 Graduate of Camden Rockport High School and graduated in 2020 from the University of Maine at Presque Isle with my bachelor’s in business administration after a 30-year pursuit, while working full time in the financial services Industry. 

    My family roots in Rockport go back to the 1940s when my grandparents (Gagne) purchased their first home on Mechanic Street and then lived on Pascal Ave., and later in West Rockport. Growing up in Rockport was special and that is why I have never left! I live with my husband, Bob, in West Rockport.

    I am active member of the community, participating in the Keep Rockport Beautiful Committee, the Rockport 125 Celebration Committee, and the annual First Responders Appreciation Luncheon for our First Responders in Knox County.  In addition, I am an Executive Board Member and Vendor Director for the Maine Lobster Festival.

    What are the three most pressing issues facing Rockport today, and how would you like to see them resolved?

    Increasing property taxes
    Affordable Housing
    Making Rockport Attractive to working families and Small Businesses  
    Sadly, we are taxing out our elderly and middle class families. It is nice to have new things, however, we cannot continue to put the burden of new schools and libraries on our citizens that are already struggling financially. Rockport is a very socioeconomic diverse community, and we need to take that into consideration when approving projects and budgets.
    How will you protect the Rockport taxpayer as you shape and govern a municipal budget, and juggle various interests that request municipal funding throughout the year?
    We need to be very mindful of any and all spending. We need to separate the needs versus the wants.  There will always be projects and requests for money; however, there are times when the answer needs to be “no” if the budget does not allow. Our focus should first be on public safety and infrastructure and all other requests are lower priority. 
    Rockport's economy has roots in agriculture, fishing, artisanship, boatyards, the arts, education and health care. How will you protect and encourage those legacy sectors?
    We have to find ways to open lines of communication with our working class families in all occupations.  When is the last time we really sought the input of all of our residents to determine their needs?
    How do you see Rockport positioned in the larger regional Midcoast economy?
    I think Rockport is often overlooked. We need to do something to set ourselves apart, generate more revenue, make it easier to do business here so we can continue to attract more business. We have a number of great businesses in our town, we need to help them be successful.
    What municipal committee would you like to be a liaison to, and why?


    What is your vision for the RES property?

    This topic has been under discussion for a considerable amount of time. We need to make this property attractive to a developer and start to generate some tax revenue instead of the lot continuing to sit empty. While I don’t have a specific vision for this property, I think we need to avoid prolonging the development and revisit any and all proposals that have been received.

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

    We need to continue to expand composting and recycling. I also think we need to review operating hours at the Transfer Station and ensure the hours of availability correspond with the resident’s needs. The recent Hazardous Waste Disposal event appeared to be very popular and we need to continue to offer more of those services to ensure these items are recycled appropriately.

    The Camden-Rockport Pathways Committee has proposed a longterm plan for safer and healthier pedestrian and bicyclist provisions. Have you read that plan and do you support it? 

    I have read the plan and having lived on Route 90 for many year I can tell you that it is a very dangerous place to walk.   I agree there needs to be options for our pedestrians, but we do need to be mindful of the expense that would take to implement the plan as written. With a very small reserve fund (as of the 2015 plan) additional discussions would be needed on funding.

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

    I have worked at home for over 10 years with limited challenges with services provided by local internet companies. In this environment and the uncertainty of schools reopening in the fall, it is critical that our residents have access to reliable internet. We should look at studies already completed in towns such as Islesboro and use data already available instead of funding additional studies. Perhaps there are opportunities to partner with other towns and businesses to secure more reliable service.

    Camden and Rockport now share a police chief and an assessor. Are there other cost-sharing arrangements that Rockport could do, with Rockport or other towns, to spread the staffing responsibilities; e.g., share a planner? Public works director?

    I think there are always ways to be creative and look for opportunities for consolidation. A few years ago, no one would have imagined that sharing a Police Chief would work, but it has been very successful. We should look at all positions were there is redundancy and ask ourselves if there is an opportunity to consolidate without decreasing the services provided to our residents.

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

    I would like to see EMS services back in our town. While recent COVID events may decrease revenue initially, having our own EMS would allow for greater control, faster response times, etc. This model has seemed to work successfully for Rockland.

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

    Running for Select Board is important to me because I feel as though the needs of the elderly and working class families in our town have been overlooked.  Having grown up in this town, I have seen significant changes over the last several years and it is making it very difficult for residents to keep up with the ever increasing taxes.   All residents need to have input into the future of our town and be able to continue to safely and comfortably live in our community. I look to be an advocate for those who feel they no longer have a voice.