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 Mark Kelley discusses his position on various topics.
Please provide a biography of yourself
Maine born, raised and schooled in Lubec, which I still brag about to this day. It’s there I learned of an opportunity at the Camden police department back in 1982 and I’ve been in the area ever since.
Army Military Police K-9, Washington County Sheriff’s Department, Lubec Water and Electric District, Camden Police, Border Patrol (the Spanish language wasn’t my strong point), pumped gas and changed tires at Bob’s Gulf for six months till I was hired to become Rockport’s third full time officer in 1986-2016.
I’m serving my second term as Rockport Budget Committee member and with your vote start my second term as Rockport Select Board member.
What are the three most pressing issues facing Rockport today, and how would you like to see them resolved?
Two and three go together as over the yearsand a great many things were put aside with the greatest of intentions of getting back to for fixing or replacing, with your tax dollar being split 69 percent CSD and the SAD 28 school system, and 6 percent Knox County budget, leaving 25 percent for Rockport. All+/-.
The 25 percent is the only thing we, the Select Board, really have control over. Here in lies the problem: How does Rockport get things done without costing people out of their homes. We don’t have limitless money and having been a department head I know there are ways to do it currently not popular but over the last three budgets I have pushed for and gained support from my fellow Select Board members to not exceed LD 1, which is a limit imposed by the state (without teeth) while still allowing for growth.
LD 1 was instituted some years ago to help curtail excessive municipal spending without voter approval. In years past, there was always an article hidden towards the end of your town meeting warrants after you’d already approved all the money issues. Again, I insisted that if we need to exceed LD 1 that warrant article will be on of the first before the monies are voted on.
Back on track: Trim excess padded monies from individual department head budgets while still getting things done, repair our infrastructure which has been set aside for years and ensure reserve accounts are funded yearly at some level for future spending needs and continue to build our undesignated fund balance.
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?
See Question Two: One item in addition. People have great ideas and go about getting grant money for this or that but they forget about the after costs, which aren’t built into their presentation to us; we need to see what the real long term cost will be.
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?
The balance is difficult; for instance, when a lobster boat or any, for that matter, starts up and leaves the harbor at 5-5:30 a.m. it wakes people. Only after speaking to them do they get it. Although not 100 percent liking it, they get it that these people need to work also.
Rockport has, to the best of my knowledge, always been proactive in support of, as you put it, legacy sectors and I assure you with the current project underway at the RES site for drive-in movies provided by CIFF (Camden International Film Festival) we are always open to ideas.
How do you see Rockport positioned in the larger regional Midcoast economy?
The Midcoast is smaller than some portray it, being from Ellsworth to Bath, and we’re doing fair right now.
What municipal committee would you like to be a liaison to, and why?
I am currently serving on conservation, parks and beautification, pesticide, budget and capital improvement committees. That’s enough, thanks.
What is your vision for the RES property?
I think I’m still owed a coffee with a certain reporter about this property still being empty after my retirement, black please.
Rockport was offered approximately $570,000 some years ago for the property, not nearly enough given its location and public utilities connected to it.
There is a group of people who gather (Not the Select Board, yet) to come up with ideas, mostly theirs, about the property and how they’d like to see it. The committee has gone out for proposals and currently had one from the Allen Agency, which I thought decent, but again, it hadn’t been brought before the SB.
My opinion: Partner with Habitat for Humanity, build 6-7 homes on the concrete side of the field. Create opportunities for those on the bubble financially who can’t quite afford their own home. It’s a win-win; they get homes and a playing field and Rockport finally gets revenue from taxes. At least it wouldn’t be a gas station.
How do you envision the future of solid waste processing for the four towns; i.e., recycling, waste stream reduction?
We currently have a really good MCSW manager and a strong board governing it.
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’m aware of the plan and don’t always agree with it; for instance, there are far more people who daily walk, run or push strollers around by the belted cows on Russell Avenue, which adjoins with Chestnut Street in Camden or loops around Beauchamp Point via Calderwood Lane than there are walking from the Market Basket to Ericksons Preserve or even the schools further out Route 90, which I’ve had 34 years experience watching. This committee is a hugh value to our communities no question but as I said in an earlier in answer to Question 3, there are costs to everything.
How best should all Rockport citizens access high-speed, broadband internet?
Another group is working towards broadband internet access by partnering with private companies, such as Woodland has done and doing so without additional costs to taxpayers. Again, this hasn’t been brought to the Select Board for any type of action or review.
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?
Sharing things with Camden or other communities is sensitive. That aside, if there is a way to effectively and efficiently provide services to Rockport and whomever we’re partnering with ultimately saving money for the taxpayers I’m for it; but, it means change, which we all don’t necessarily like, including me. Once we get beyond that, say in 129 years, it’ll all be water under the bridge.
What do you see as the future of EMS service for Rockport?
There are forces in our midst that want Camden and Rockport to have their own again, a different version of what was the Camden First Aid Association. We currently work much better with North East Mobile Health Services than what was early on in our partnership due to stronger management from both towns, through better review of and holding people more accountable by having conversations, which is a poke at some not always finding it convenient to meet. I’m hoping for a continued partnership with Hope, Lincolnville, Camden and Rockport in whatever direction we travel.
Free space! Please add additional thoughts as you see fit.
I dislike doing these questioners because space is limited and one’s points can’t always be presented in a complete fashion. I would ask if you’d like further conversations please call 596-9258 or email me at email@example.com maybe a face to face if the 19 crud ever breaks loose either way please consider voting for me on August 18, 2020. Thank you.
Be civil to one another. It’s been a crappy 6 months with who knows how many more to come. We are resilient; it’ll take awhile but it’ll get better.