BREWER, Maine — A University of Maine master’s student, a maintenance worker at Hannaford taking classes at Husson University, a lineman for Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. and two real estate brokers are running for the two open seats on the Brewer City Council.
All five council candidates said they plan to participate in the Meet the Candidates forum at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, hosted by the Brewer Education Association at the Brewer Community School.
Incumbent Kevin O’Connell, 53, who is currently serving as mayor, said he’s proud of the work the city has done in the last three years, especially starting the riverfront walking path, and he wants to continue to give back.
“I learn things every day,” said O’Connell, who served two terms on the school board and was appointed to the high school trustees while also working for Bangor Hydro. “I enjoy listening to people and helping whenever I can.”
Broker Bev Uhlenhake, 41, of Epstein Commercial Real Estate, and UMaine student Ashley Blanchard, 29, said economic development is key to Brewer’s future.
“I’d like to see more businesses come to town to take some of the tax burden off the taxpayers,” said Blanchard, who is a stay-at-home mother working on a master’s degree in educational counseling with a focus in mental health.
“In a candidate I want someone who’s knowledgeable about economic development, which is what I do every day, and I want someone who understands today’s citizens,” said Uhlenhake, who serves on the planning board, Brewer Business Alliance and the comprehensive plan committee. “For example, as a working mom, I can’t bring my kids to the library because it’s not open on Saturdays.”
Real estate broker William “Will” Rogers Jr., 75, of Realty of Maine, who served as Brewer’s representative in the 121st Maine Legislature, said it’s time for a change.
“They need new leadership,” he said. “They need somebody with conservative viewpoints and conservative fiscal abilities. I just think we’re living beyond our means and beyond the means of the average taxpayer.”
Rogers also said he believes the education system is underfunded.
Jennifer Jalbert, 24, who worked as a cashier while attending Brewer High School but now works in maintenance at the store while taking English and pre-law classes at Husson, said she wants to “advocate for people who can’t speak up.”
“I don’t know all the answers but I’m hoping I can get in there and make a difference and come up with new ideas,” she said.
City Councilor Arthur “Archie” Verow said he is not running for his third term on the council because he is too busy representing the city and District 21 in Augusta.
The school board and trustee seats up for grabs during the local election are uncontested.
Julie Milan is running unopposed for the Brewer School Committee seat now held by David Austin, who decided not to run and Brewer High School district trustee incumbent Manley DeBeck is the lone person running the seat.
Local elections will be held in conjunction with state elections on Nov. 5. The Meet the Candidate’s night starts with a meet-and-greet with light refreshments at 6:30 p.m., followed by the candidates forum at 7 p.m. in the performing arts center.
Correction: An earlier version of this story requires correction. Archie Verow represents Maine House District 21, not 50.