MILLINOCKET, Maine — With nine candidates running for three open Town Council seats and two school board candidates running for one seat, town voters aren’t lacking for choices on Election Day.
The council candidates — Robert W. Curlew, Marsha H. Donahue, incumbent Scott Gonya, Dale F. Hayes, Michael A. Madore, Laura E. Manzo, Alyce V. Maragus, John F. Raymond and Gilda G. Stratton — have many similar and divergent goals if elected.
The school board candidates are challenger Kevin J. Gregory and incumbent board Chairman Thomas M. Malcolm.
As of Friday, 4,116 residents, out of a possible 5,206 according to the last census, were registered to vote, Town Clerk Roxanne Johnson said.
Maragus wants to help develop Gonya’s idea of seizing by eminent domain the power-generating facilities at Brookfield Renewable Energy — if the Katahdin Avenue paper mill fails to restart — and possibly creating a public utility or other means of offering lower-cost electricity.
“The biggest problem here is creating job opportunity,” Maragus said. “I don’t like the phrase economic development because it means different things to different people. My concentration would be on job opportunity.”
Curlew and Donahue, who own a downtown art gallery, would be a husband-and-wife councilor team. Both would like to see downtown revitalization at the top of the council’s agenda, with a greater effort made in drawing out-of-region businesses to town — and keeping existing businesses prosperous.
“Whether the mill comes back or not,” Curlew said, “there are 45 businesses and offices in downtown that can be stabilized.”
Hayes said he would “like to see lower taxes and foolish town spending stopped — no more building town pools and knocking down Newberry buildings.”
Stratton “would like to change the images and atmosphere and attitudes in our community and bring new businesses to our community,” she said. “There are stimulus grants out there that I would like to see us apply for and I would try to be more positive and inclusive.”
Raymond has been an ardent backer of town economic development and worked extensively on developing the town’s recreational opportunities. For several years he has worked to create the region’s first ATV trail network, which supporters say could bring millions of dollars into the region.
Manzo said she wants to see a townwide economic development plan developed and brought to fruition. Madore would like the town to aggressively increase its debt service payments to lower the town’s debt and avoid any eminent domain actions with the mill, which he estimates could cost as much as $3.5 million.
“I want to [become a councilor] because there are people who spend their whole time complaining and not do anything about. I don’t want to be like that anymore,” he said. “Especially with times the way they are, you need some people to step up and make decisions that may not always be popular. You want to help get Millinocket through this and I think I am one of those people — at least, I think I am.”
A school board candidate and challenger, Gregory feels similarly. “I have a son in the school system and I want to ensure that he gets a quality education,” Gregory said. “I want all the children in the system to get that.”
The school board’s chairman, Malcolm has led the state-mandated school regionalization effort and helped shepherd the schools through one of their most daunting fiscal years, in which the school budget rose by more than $500,000 to offset a projected $605,589 loss in revenue, due mainly to declining state essential programs and services funding.