Thursday, October 27, 2005

Editorial: Our votes

Published in the Current

(Oct 27, 2005): Election season is when local residents step forward and courageously volunteer to be in the public eye. We applaud all the candidates for their willingness, though we note two major races – Scarborough Town Council and Cape Elizabeth School Board – where there is no race. That’s too bad, and we encourage anyone considering a run to do so.

In this issue we have our election coverage, with candidate profiles and letters and columns taking stands on various election questions. Please write in with your opinions on the candidates and the issues. Also, in this space, we make our endorsements. The biggest endorsement we make is to vote. Your ballot counts, and you can vote in advance at town hall or on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Cape Elizabeth Town Council: We endorse incumbent Anne Swift-Kayatta and newcomer Mary Page. Swift-Kayatta has more than earned reelection, showing her dedication to doing her homework in every meeting, wrestling with data, asking people’s opinions and responding to residents’ concerns. Her regional connections could pay off as well, finding ways to share with other communities to save money.

Page, with less on-paper experience, is nonetheless dialed in to a broad segment of town not now represented on the council: the working folks, who built the town, keep it running and still form its connection to the past. They need a voice, which Page promises to give them, and her outspoken nature on issues like wetlands restrictions shows she will deliver.

Scarborough Board of Education: For the two three-year seats, we endorse Christopher Brownsey and Colleen Staszko. Brownsey’s experience with several ongoing efforts, including the major construction being considered for the intermediate and middle schools, will serve residents well. Staszko, who works as a teacher in North Yarmouth, will bring that experience to the board, helping ensure teaching and learning remain at the forefront of every discussion.

For the one-year seat, Jacquelyn Perry is the best candidate. A longtime member of the board who continues to attend and participate in its meetings as a private citizen, she has the institutional knowledge and up-to-date information to be effective right away.

Scarborough senior center: We urge Scarborough voters to approve the senior center’s $1.2 million bond. The seniors need a place to call their own, and the relatively low costs of debt service and operation of the building pale in comparison to the value a community building could bring not just to seniors, but to all residents.

Scarborough charter change: We oppose the expansion of borrowing power the council is asking for. A “yes” vote would allow the council to borrow up to $700,000 per project or item without asking voters. Now the limit is at $400,000, and a “no” vote would leave it that way. The council wants the change, to make their lives easier. But voters who want to keep town spending in check should not loosen the reins on borrowing, which affects budgets decades into the future.

South Portland District 1: We support Claude Morgan. He has good ideas, and an eye for the future as well as for the bottom line. His support for the schools – including finding a way to provide the school configuration residents want – puts him ahead of the competition.

South Portland District 2: Voters have a true choice here, between fiscal conservative developer Kay Loring and Anton Hoecker, a progressive who opposes spending cuts because, he says, lower taxes reduce people’s participation in the community. While Loring's fiscal conservatism is important, she did not have specific ideas to put into practice. Hoecker needs to be careful how much he fights spending cuts in a city facing a revaluation and potentially massive school construction bonds, but his fresh ideas – such as investing in libraries and child care to attract business – garner our support for him.

South Portland District 5: We support the reelection of James Hughes. Hughes has done very well keeping city spending in check and representing his neighborhood while still thinking of all city residents. His efforts to reduce tension between the council and the School Board are admirable, and his moderate approach to controversial issues have kept focus where it should be: on residents’ needs.

South Portland paving bond: We urge South Portland voters to support the $500,000 bond for road paving and sidewalk improvements. In neighborhoods throughout the city, cars bump along the streets and walkers and bicyclists dodge holes in footpaths. While this bond is not the final step, it is a beginning.

Whether you agree with these ideas or not, the most important message we can give is this: Vote. Whether you do it in advance, by contacting the municipal clerk’s office, or on Tuesday, Nov. 8, your voice matters and your vote counts.

Jeff Inglis, editor