Bangor City Council candidates invited to square off in forum

Posted Oct. 16, 2009, at 7:51 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Seven candidates, including three incumbents, are running for three open seats on the Bangor City Council.

Each has been invited to attend a candidates forum at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19, at Bangor City Hall. Local media members will form a panel of questioners, with each candidate having an opportunity to make opening and closing statements about their reasons for running for City Council.

Bill Sullivan, a longtime resident who has served on various resident committees, will moderate the forum. The public is invited to attend and to submit written questions for the candidates.

The forum also will be broadcast live on Bangor’s government access channel and will be rebroadcast several times Oct. 20-31.

Another candidates forum will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at the Bangor Public Library. Election Day is Nov. 3.

Here’s a look at the candidates, in alphabetical order:

Marco Antonio Almodovar, 45, of Walter Street has lived in Bangor for the last seven years after moving from New York City, where he worked in the municipal education department.

“I am running for the City Council in order to help make Bangor a better place to live, where families can be safe,” he said. “The more input we receive, the more effective we will be in incorporating the views of the average person into our deliberations.”

Almodovar said the city’s growing homeless population is its biggest challenge and that he would seek to reuse vacant buildings to help house them. He also envisions a better relationship between residents of Bangor and the Police Department and would like to extend bus services.

Almodovar lists sex offenders among his top issues on his campaign Web site, http://electmarcoalmodovar.com/index.htm.

“Castration ejections [sic] will be given to suspects who are going against the law. Pedophiles will be placed in their own community, so that they can be monitored to ensure the safety of our citizens,” the site reads.

Patricia A. Blanchette, 66, of Old Orchard Drive has served a total of 12 years during two stints on the City Council, beginning in 1988. She also spent six years as treasurer for Penobscot County and represented Bangor in the Maine House of Representatives from 2000 to 2008.

“I have been on the council for a number of years and I would like to continue representing the people of Bangor,” she said. “There have been a number of issues that I have been involved in and I look forward to bringing them to a close.”

She said Bangor’s biggest challenges are keeping taxes stable, encouraging future job growth in existing businesses in the city and working to bring new businesses to Bangor.

Her three biggest priorities if elected would be: working to project that city hall cares about all taxpayers; improving communication between residents and councilors; and working with the arena committee to ensure Bangor taxpayers do not have to put money into a new facility now or later.

Peter D’Errico, 78, of Meadowbrook Road is originally from New York but has lived in Bangor for 52 years. He’s retired and spent more than 25 years as a municipal employee, including two decades as director of Bangor International Airport from 1970 to 1990. He has served two terms on the City Council and is seeking re-election.

“I want to continue to be active in projects that improve and grow the economy of the city by identifying our resources that offer job growth and increases in nonresidential taxes,” he said.

D’Errico believes the airport and the city’s waterfront have opportunities for growth and he would like to see a bigger push for an east-west highway through Bangor and a return of passenger rail service.

“Considering the status of our national and local economy, controlling taxes and costs of operation is the most challenging issue in the next year,” he said.

Geoff Gratwick, 66, of Kenduskeag Avenue has spent the last six years on the City Council. A physician by profession, he’s a member of the Bangor Noontime Rotary and served 13 years as chairman of the Maine Humanities Council.

A staunch fiscal conservative, Gratwick said he has voted numerous times on nonessential budget items and he believes Bangor must live within its means.

“Property taxpayers hand over hard-earned income to the city. It must be spent with the utmost care. We cannot afford everything we might like,” Gratwick said in his candidate brochure.

Gratwick said Bangor needs to strengthen its unique competitive assets, including its quality of place, when it comes to economic development. He said businesses are drawn to superb infrastructure. He also believes that the city’s creative economy can help draw business.

John Kossowan, 56, of Hammond Street is a retired dentist and professional artist originally from Massachusetts. He has set up a campaign Web site, http://johnfkossowanforcc.bravehost.com.

Kossowan said he is a “saved” Christian and considers himself a prophet of the Lord. He said he’s running for City Council to lower property taxes and to reverse what he believes is a dominance in city government by certain wealthy families.

Kossowan also said the Police Department needs more resources to deal with the cocaine business in Bangor.

He said municipal employees in the fire, police and school departments should be exempt from property taxes.

One idea he has to increase tourism in Bangor is to build a duplicate of the Seattle Space Needle on the site of the existing civic center. He also envisions a new arena, but would build it on land owned by Bangor International Airport and would make it big enough to accommodate 50,000 people.

Paul Lodgek, 55, of Dexter Street has been an engineer at ZF Lemforder Corp. in Brewer for two decades and has coached youth baseball and volunteered for the United Way.

“I cannot think of a better way to spend my time than to serve the citizens of this great city. I believe that my 22 years of engineering and cost-containment experience with a highly competitive global manufacturing corporation will be of great benefit in representing Bangor’s taxpayers,” he said.

Lodgek said Bangor needs to continue improving city services, and educational and job opportunities and public safety should be ongoing goals with measurable results. Contingency plans should be in place in order to respond to unforeseen events that may affect vital services.

He said Bangor needs a more proactive approach to retain existing business and attract new business.

“Bringing in new job opportunities requires a comprehensive approach with vision that allows the council to establish partnerships with educational, political and regional entities,” he said.

Lodgek also thinks the City Council should become more active in lobbying elected officials for economic opportunities.

Cary Weston, 37, of West Broadway is a lifelong Bangor resident and is a founding partner of Sutherland-Weston Communications, a public relations firm. He has served on community committees and boards including the city’s parks and recreation advisory board.

Weston also was one of the founders of Fusion: Bangor, a social network developed to incorporate young professionals into the economic, cultural and recreational future of Bangor.

“I feel that it’s our personal responsibility to be active in our community and ensure it’s the best place to live, work and play,” he said. “I don’t want to just talk about issues and opportunities. I want to do something about them.”

A fiscal conservative, Weston said he believes that every dollar the city spends should be spent wisely. He said three things he would change if elected would be to create a “yes” culture when it comes to economic development; craft a vision for the future of our city and better engage residents and community leaders in the process; and embrace the energy and ideas of the younger generation to make Bangor a “city of choice for our children and grandchildren.”

Weston also has a Web site, www.caryweston.com.

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