On Tuesday, Nov. 7, Bangor voters will cast ballots for Bangor City Council and School Committee candidates. Three of the nine seats on the City Council are up for grabs, with Councilor Sean Faircloth and Council Chairman Joe Baldacci opting not to seek re-election. Six candidates are seeking election, and Councilor Ben Sprague is the only incumbent in the race.
Here are the candidates:
Andrew Bennett, 33, a graduate of Bangor High School, moved back to his childhood town with his family three years ago. If elected, he said he would push for the city to spend more money on maintaining city streets and sidewalks and advocate for council transparency and non-partisanship. Bennett also wants to provide more financial incentives for property owners to renovate or remove dilapidated housing stock. One of the City Council’s main goals should be pursuing decisions that will help grow the tax base now and in the long term, Bennett said.
Bennett ran but was not elected to the Bangor City Council in 2016. Bennett is not enrolled with a political party.
Allen “Seth” Braun, 24, is a North Carolina native. After graduating from Georgia Tech in Atlanta, he moved to Bangor last year for a job as an electrical engineer in Orono. One of the biggest challenges the city faces, he said, is maintaining infrastructure. Braun said he wants to expand the hours of the bus service, build more community gardens and establish more cooperatively sourced food programs. Braun, a founding member of the Socialist Party of Maine, said he wants to help establish a restorative justice-model program for the Bangor Police Department, which could include giving officers extensive de-escalation training, similar to the type of training required of social workers.
Braun is not enrolled with a political party, but described himself as a “socialist progressive.”
Clare Davitt, 37, grew up in Bangor and graduated from Bangor High School. She moved away for college and returned as a young adult, and now works as a reference librarian for the Bangor Public Library. Davitt is a graduate of Emerge Maine, a training program for young female Democratic leaders.
If elected, Davitt said she wants to make it easier for seniors with limited resources to age in place, as well as attract younger residents.
Davitt also thinks the city should make it easier for people suffering from opioid addictions to get treatment and to find work without fear of stigma.
“Going back to work after drug charges or rehab is not easy, and that needs to be something we work on, [otherwise] folks just circle back on what they know,” Davitt said.
She is enrolled as a Democrat.
Steven “Pudge” Harrison, 50, has lived in Maine for more than 25 years and owns the financial firm, Clear Path Financial Services, in Bangor. Harrison said he most interested in creating more jobs to grow the city’s tax base. “I don’t think our city faces any monumental challenges,” Harrison said. “I think we have some incredible opportunities for growth and economic development. If people would just take a few minutes to really evaluate what Bangor offers for the property tax paid, it’s quite a value.”
Harrison is enrolled as a Republican.
Ben Sprague, 34, is a Bangor native and graduate of Bangor High School. The only incumbent, he is seeking a third consecutive term. He returned to his hometown with his family as a young adult. Sprague’s sees growing and diversifying Bangor’s economic base, and supporting those affected by the opioid crisis, as two of his biggest priorities and some of the city’s biggest challenges.
In an effort to revitalize Bangor’s neighborhoods, if re-elected, Sprague said he will also continue to find “ways to incentivize” both city councilors and property owners to improve “ delinquent buildings and hold property owners accountable,” and continue to invest in the city’s aging infrastructure, like sidewalks, “without increasing property taxes.”
Sprague is enrolled as a Democrat.
Laura Supica, 37, originally from the San Francisco Bay area, has lived in the Bangor region for nearly a decade, and is also a graduate of Emerge Maine. Supica works in the service industry and, if elected, will advocate for the city to expand its bus service and improve sidewalks “so that accessibility and mobility are never an issue for Bangor’s residents”.
Attracting new people to the area is the biggest challenge the city faces, Supica said. “It’s all about improving quality of life for the people who live here.”
She’s “committed to making Bangor a more attractive place for young people to stay and for families to work and thrive, and a location that will entice businesses to invest.”
Supica is enrolled as a Democrat.
In an uncontested race, three candidates are seeking three available seats on the School Committee. Chairman Warren Caruso is terming out, but incumbents Susan Sorg and Marlene Susi are seeking re-election alongside newcomer Timothy Surrette.
Sorg, a 70-year-old Sanford native and retired physical education and special education teacher, is seeking re-election for a second consecutive term on the committee. She has lived in Bangor since 1996 and taught for more than 30 years, nearly 20 of which were in the Bangor school system.
Susi, 65, a Bangor native and retired English teacher after a 38-year career at William S. Cohen School in 2012. She is seeking her second three-year term on the School Committee.
Surrette, 38, is an assistant professor of education at the University of Maine at Augusta. He got his career start as a science teacher at James F. Doughty Middle School in Bangor, and now has two children in the school system. As a newcomer, Surrette said he would improve communication between the School Committee, district and residents.
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Correction: There are a total of nine seats on the Bangor City Council. In addition, Allen Braun was not the only founding member of the Maine Socialist Party.