BANGOR, Maine — While four of the five candidates for Bangor City Council on the Nov. 8 ballot agreed on many fronts, including the need to create more jobs and attract new residents, they parted ways on some of the more controversial topics the city has grappled with in the past or might face in the future.
Moderated by Michael Crowley, president and chief philanthropy officer of the EMHS Foundation and a former city councilor, Thursday’s forum was congenial in tone, with candidates agreeing on more issues than not, including the need to find ways as a service center community to balance the region’s needs with the cost to city taxpayers.
They did, however, part ways on some issues, among them whether Bangor, which maintains an emergency dispatch program of its own, should join the Penobscot Regional Communications Center and if the city has enough methadone clinics or too many.
Participating in the forum were:
— Incumbent candidate Gibran Graham, who is seeking his second council term and is manager of the Briar Patch and co-owner of COESPACE.
— Marc Eastman, a former school committee member and a self-described work-at-home dad who owns a small business and is seeking his first council term.
— Dan Tremble, who served two council terms from 1999 to 2005, including one year as mayor; served a few days on the school committee but resigned because of a conflict; and is serving his third term as Penobscot County treasurer.
— Andrew Bennett, an engineer who grew up in Bangor and moved back to raise his family here and who is seeking his first elective position.
Absent was Cary Weston, owner of Sutherland Weston Marketing Communications, who served on the council from 2009 to 2012, including two years as chairman.
Bangor Public Library Director Barbara McDade said Weston could not attend as he was out of state.
With regard to dispatch, Tremble pointed out that Bangor is the only municipality in the county to have its own program, despite the fact that Bangor taxpayers pay 24 percent of the overall county tax levy.
Graham said that given the number of calls city dispatchers are fielding, he wasn’t sure he could support a full merger but agreed that having the county handle 911 calls “might be a good alternative.”
Eastman said he would need to review more information before taking a position.
Bennett, however, said that Bangor could not continue to pay for two dispatch operations.
“We’re not that wealthy. We can’t afford to do that,” Bennett said.
The forum was sponsored by members of the League of Women Voters in the Bangor area and by the Bangor Public Library. It was streamed live and was recorded for future broadcasts on the city’s public access television station.