May 27, 2018
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Bangor City Council candidates to appear at forum

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The five candidates vying for three Bangor City Council seats have been invited to participate in a public forum next week.

The forum, which will be moderated by resident Bill Sullivan and will feature questions posed by local media members, will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12, in City Council chambers.

Current councilors Susan Hawes and Hal Wheeler are running for re-election. Richard Stone, a longtime councilor and the current council chairman, announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election.

The nine city councilors serve three-year terms, which are staggered so Bangor voters select only three each year.

Here is a look at the candidates, in alphabetical order:

Charles “Nick” Bearce, 65, is a semi-retired finance and accounting professional and has a host of experience advising national and provincial governments. He has been involved in public service in Bangor through various citizen committees but said he’s running for City Council to make a contribution to better government in Bangor.

Last year, he unsuccessfully ran for the Bangor School Committee. In 2008, he ran against House District 15 Rep. Adam Goode and lost.

Bearce said his top three priorities are to maintain the high quality of life Bangor has experienced, to explore sharing assets with surrounding communities and to ensure a referendum vote for a proposed new arena.

Nelson Durgin, 73, recently retired as executive director of the Phillips-Strickland House in Bangor, a residential facility for the elderly. Before that, he served as adjutant general of the Maine National Guard from 1991 to 1995, culminating a 34-year career in the Maine Air National Guard.

Durgin said he’s running for City Council to offer his experience and leadership abilities to the residents of Bangor.

His top three priorities are to hire and install a fully qualified city manager, to finalize plans for a new Bangor arena to replace the aging Bangor Auditorium and to improve the economic environment for Bangor and the region.

Susan Hawes, 54, is a medical office manager for Eastern Maine Medical Center and has served on the City Council for two terms since 2004, including one year as City Council chairwoman.

She said she’s running again because she cares deeply about the present and future of Bangor.

“We still have much to do, and I would like to be a part of the continuing development,” she said.

Hawes said her top three priorities are the development of Bangor’s “entertainment district” and a new arena, fiscally responsible budgeting and maintenance of essential services and improving communication and involvement with citizens and city government.

Charles Longo, 21, is a political newcomer but said he has past experience working on gubernatorial and presidential campaigns.

He said he wants to move Bangor forward to better times by applying common sense and bringing unique and innovative ideas to the City Council.

Longo said his top three priorities are investing in things that give a hand up, not a handout, keeping the taxpayers’ money and jobs in the community by hiring local companies and people and maintaining strong police and fire departments.

He admits he’s a new face to the political establishment but believes his diverse background gives him the ability to represent the entire population of Bangor.

Hal Wheeler, 73, is retired and said his top priority is being a city councilor. He’s been involved in numerous citizen committees since the early 1970s, including a term on the City Council from 1983 to 1986, two terms on the Planning Board from 2000 to 2006 and his most recent term as councilor.

Wheeler said he’s running again to help meet the challenges and seize the opportunities facing Bangor.

His top three priorities are to undertake a complete review of the structure of Bangor city government, to be an advocate for the needs and concerns of all Bangor residents and businesses and to strengthen Bangor’s economic development department and be more proactive in attracting new businesses.

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