Waterville voters to decide contested races for City Council, Board of Education | #Education

WATERVILLE — City voters in the upcoming election will elect a new mayor and choose candidates in contested races for City Council, the Waterville Board of Education and Kennebec Water District Board of Trustees.

Voters will also decide whether to approve charter revisions.

The polls on Nov. 3 will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, at Waterville Junior High School at 100 West River Road.

Anyone in line at 8 p.m. will be able to vote and register, if needed, according to City Clerk Patti Dubois. Absentee voting, in-person, starts Oct. 5 in the Front Street Conference Room at City Hall and hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except for Oct. 14, 21 and 28, when voting will be extended to 7 p.m., Dubois said.

In the mayoral race, Phil Bofia, who is unenrolled, is running against Jay Coelho, a Democrat, for Mayor Nick Isgro’s seat. Isgro, who will have served two three-year terms, chose not to seek reelection.

Voters will also be asked to decide “Yes,” or “No,” on whether to approve city charter revisions recommended by the city’s Charter Commission, which completed several months of deliberations.

Proposed changes include filling vacancies by special election rather than by council appointment, requiring mayoral candidates to have lived in the city at least a year instead of three months, and a two-thirds instead of simple majority of the City Council to approve a budget.

 

CITY COUNCIL, WARD 4

Incumbent City Councilor Sydney Mayhew, a Republican, is being challenged by Democrat Rebecca Lee Green for the Ward 4 seat on the City Council.

Mayhew said he is running for reelection out of compassion for his constituents and he wants to continue to be involved in the city’s economic revitalization.

“I’m on several committees that are involved in this process and want to see that progress through,” Mayhew said.

Challenges facing the city, he said, include a high tax rate that is “disproportionally on the backs of residents.” Another challenge is the need to place more emphasis on public and private education in fostering higher productivity for staff and infrastructure, according to Mayhew. 

He said that, if elected, he would propose a new property revaluation to provide real tax relief by shifting the burden from residential to commercial. He said he also wants to see progress continue on the BUILD project downtown and the redesign of  The Concourse. Mayhew said he would work on those projects, as well as on Head of Falls development and creating a plan to address declining sidewalks throughout the community. 

The city last year was awarded a $7.3 million federal BUILD grant which is part of an $11.294 million Waterville revitalization project officials plan to put out to bid next month.

Green says she is running for the seat because “the next three years will be a critical time for Waterville, with major changes in city governance, exciting momentum to develop downtown, but also a pandemic with consequences for both health and the economy.”

“I want to help move Waterville forward in a positive direction in the next three years, support those who are most vulnerable and protect our assets, including education, medical and cultural institutions, so everyone thrives,” she said.

Major challenges, according to Green, include the need to increase revenue so schools can be fully funded, attracting new residents and businesses and working to ensure health and safety through the pandemic.

Green said that, if elected, said she wants to encourage a culture of civility, honesty and respectful debate on issues.  She also wants to attract innovative businesses that will create good jobs and promote Waterville as a welcoming community, she said.

Specific projects Green says she would work on, if elected, are economic development that is strategic and innovative, affordable housing development, more environmentally friendly projects such as solar farms and supporting the Waterville SPaRC initiative. SPaRC — which stands for Strengthening, Partnering and Reinforcing Community — is a coalition of institutions including Waterville Public Schools, the early childhood education program, Educare, and several area colleges and adult education programs.

 

WATERVILLE BOARD OF EDUCATION, WARD 4

In Ward 4, incumbent Waterville Board of Education member Maryanne Bernier, a Democrat, is being challenged by Kelley L. Dow. Dow is running with no party affiliation listed by her name on the ballot, though she says she is registered as a Republican.

Bernier said she is running for reelection “to support the school district in best ways to educate our students during a  pandemic and to help guide the school district through these hard economic times.”

“The teachers and administration have faced and met the challenges of keeping students safe in school,” she said. “They face the challenges of teaching students both in school and remote. As citizens of Waterville, we face unknown financial times, personally, and as a city. The city and school office holders need to plan for what citizens can afford for taxes.”

Bernier said that, if elected, she would work with the City Council and mayor to produce affordable taxes for residents during these hard times. It is important, she said, to understand what teachers and staff are going through and support them so they are able to teach students during the pandemic. She also would work on more projects such as the Waterville Solar Study Committee, which she says will help save taxpayers money.

Dow said she is running for the school board seat because she wants to support educators and education.

“I genuinely respect and appreciate our educators and would like to support them in greater detail,” she said.

Dow said she sees questionable support for public education as a major challenge facing the community. If elected, she said she plans to build greater continuity between the community, families and educators.

Specific projects she plans to work on are the budget, curriculum implementation and organization, teacher recruitment, and teacher retention and pay.

 

KENNEBEC WATER DISTRICT 

Three people are running for two seats on the Kennebec Water District Board of Trustees: Democrat incumbent Denise Ann Bruesewitz, Republican Thomas Stephen DePre, and Democrat Sarah Valerie Whateley.

Bruesewitz said she is running for reelection because she cares about providing high quality water to Waterville and the other municipalities the Water District serves.

“I think my expertise as a freshwater scientist that studies water quality and algal blooms is useful to this position,” she said.

Bruesewitz said that, in terms of access to drinking water, she thinks major challenges are aging underground infrastructure, as well the need to continue managing China Lake in a way that provides high quality drinking water to communities. Waterville’s drinking water comes from China Lake.

Bruesewitz says that if reelected, she plans to continue to represent Water District ratepayers of Waterville and recommend actions she believes will provide high quality water at the best possible price to the community.

“I would like to work with the board to continue our planning for the new operational facility for KWD and to explore ways we can better understand the water quality dynamics of China Lake and use that information to inform management of our water,” she said.

DePre said he is running for a trustee seat because he has become very interested in the Water District’s capital projects as part of the ongoing downtown Waterville water main replacement project. DePre and his family own property on Main Street downtown.

Work on the Water District’s $2.7 million water main replacement continued all summer and precedes the city’s plans to put the $11.294 million downtown revitalization project out to bid in October. As part of a revitalization project, the traffic pattern would change from one-way to two-way on Front and Main streets and intersections and sidewalks would be improved. The Water District’s water main replacement project is separate from the city’s revitalization project, but the Water District wanted to complete the main replacement prior to the launch of the city’s project.

“My goal is to represent the KWD ratepayers,” DePre said. “I want to ensure that the existing and future KWD capital projects achieve the maximum value and best service for the ratepayer.”

Whateley said she is running for Kennebec Water District because she is very interested and invested in the long-term health and sustainability of water resources.

“I believe my technical background and time spent interacting with water stakeholders and communities around the country positions me well to serve on the KWD Board,” she said. “For example, I have recently been working with the town of Shelter Island, New York, to address some of their pressing water challenges around high nitrate levels and saltwater intrusion in their surface waters and drinking water supply.”

Whateley said she sees a major challenge as the “undervaluation of water as both an economic commodity and a cultural touchstone.”

“Reliable and safe access to drinking water requires addressing the challenges associated with aging infrastructure and coordinated management of China Lake,” she said.

Whateley said that, if elected, she plans to help ensure that clean, accessible and affordable water is available to serve the municipalities and companies that rely on high quality water in the region.

“I am still learning about the projects the KWD Board is working on, but I am particularly interested in the coordination and holistic management of water across sectors and municipalities so that all voices and perspectives are accounted for and no one sector, organization, or community is left out,” she said. “I believe that an integrated approach to management would help support a number of projects, including better understanding the water quality dynamics of China Lake.”

 

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