June 23, 2018
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Bangor City Council candidates offer voters clear choices

Renee Ordway
By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN

A few observations from Thursday night’s forum of the six men running for the three seats open on the Bangor City Council.

1. There are six men running.

That’s fine of course, but notable just the same.

Two women, Pat Blanchette and Pauline Civiello, are in the middle of their three-year terms so there will be two women on the nine-person council.

2. Clearly the Waterfront Concert Series remains a front-and-center issue for many residents concerned with whether the city can find a way to balance the disruptive noise levels of some concerts against the positive economic impact of the series as a whole.

3. This issue appears to be the only issue that candidate Victor Kraft cares about and is the only reason he is running. At least that’s what he said Thursday night.

4. Nearly every candidate thinks that Bangor’s “people” are the city’s best resource. A resident asked that question and most of the answers were nearly the same. Kudos to the candidates who were able to come up with more interesting and thoughtful answers, including Kraft who noted the troop greeters and the library. Also to candidate Joshua Plourde who took the opportunity to suggest Bangor could do better at tapping into the 17,000 college kids who call the city home to draw upon their intellect and energy and perhaps providing incentive for them to stay after graduation.

5. Two of the six candidates running were censured within the past three years while they were active council members.

Charlie Longo, who is running for a second three-year term was censured in June when he made a derogatory and unfounded comment about Gov. Paul Lepage during an open council meeting.

Hal Wheeler, who served on the council from 1983 to 1986 and again from 2007 to 2010, was censured in 2010 after secretly taping a meeting with city staff.

Both men apologized for their actions at the time they occurred and spoke openly Thursday night about having learned their lessons – but the censures are notable nonetheless.

6. Longo, who I have criticized once or twice in this column, was the most articulate and compelling when the candidates were asked about the city’s public transportation.

He spoke of needing the bus while going to school and working at Staples and the difficulty that posed on nights and weekends. He also brought up the free bus access agreement for area college students which was reached during his first year in office.

7. There is a clear choice between old and new voices. It would be the first trip to the council table for Plourde, Gibran Graham and Kraft, while Wheeler, Longo and current council chair Nelson Durgin all have varying levels of experience on the council.

8. Kraft called the workers who collect his trash each week “Nazis” and said he was not going to send out any literature about himself to Bangor residents because the “Nazis” that pick up his garbage would “throw it back on my lawn.”

9. Kraft will have a following.

10. The reasons the six candidates are running vary, of course. Some may have more lofty political aspirations, some may simply enjoy it and some may just want to shut down the Waterfront Concert Series.

Being a Bangor City Councilor is a serious time commitment. Agree or disagree with a candidate, one must hand it to those who put in the effort because clearly not many of us are willing to do so.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

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