SCARBOROUGH — An incumbent town councilor, a former councilor and two relative newcomers are running for two open Town Council seats in the Nov. 5 election.
The candidates are Jean-Marie Caterina, 58, and William Donovan, 66, who have run for local public office before but never won, along with former Councilor Carol Rancourt, 64, and sitting Councilor Judy Roy, 70.
Caterina is a real estate broker who is married and has a daughter who graduated from town schools. She’s running for a three-year term on the seven-member council because she believes it needs some new faces.
“I would bring new ideas and a fresh perspective,” Caterina said.
A former teacher, Caterina said she has a deep respect for educators. She said she also understands, given her experience in selling real estate, that good schools are a cornerstone of a healthy economy in any community.
“The first question people ask when they look at a house is ‘How’s the school system?’ ” Caterina said. “I understand how important it is to maintain support for the schools.”
As a business owner, Caterina said, she understands how important it is to maintain a diverse business community that can survive economic unheavals and help the town keep a relatively low tax rate. In addition to her real estate firm, Caterina and her husband operate a real estate education company, a honeybee farm and a sailing adventure company.
Caterina also is member of the Conservation Commission, so she’s keenly aware of the need to preserve public access to open spaces and preserve the town’s marshes, beaches and farmlands.
“It’s important to maintain those resources for the future,” she said.
Donovan is a retired lawyer who ran a firm in New Hampshire that had more than 130 employees. Through the years he developed specialties in commercial, tax and municipal law. He served on the school board in Amherst, N.H., before moving to Maine several years ago.
Donovan said he’s running because he believes town government can be more efficient and less expensive.
“For decades I’ve seen middle-class incomes have gone nowhere and yet the cost of everything goes up,” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job of respecting what middle-class families, workers and seniors can afford.”
Donovan said he’s “not anti-anything,” but he would like to promote a more balanced tax structure. He said he would urge the council to fund efficiency audits to ensure the town is getting its money’s worth. He’d also encourage the council to pursue other ways to save money, including cost-saving measures recommended through the town employees’ incentive program.
Donovan said the council and School Board must work more closely to promote better long-range planning and reduce conflict at budget time. “There needs to be much better dialogue,” he said.
Rancourt is volunteer services manager at the Southern Maine Area Agency on Aging. She served three terms on the council, from 2004 through 2012, and three terms on the School Board, from 1995 through 2003.
“I missed it, so I decided to jump back into the fray,” Rancourt said. “I really enjoy public service and I think I have more to contribute.”
Rancourt said she would strive to hold down taxes, push for tax reform at the state level, and manage growth in order to “maintain that delicate balance that allows us to keep our wonderful community the livable place that it is.”
With reduced public revenues, the council often faces impossible choices that require painful decisions, Rancourt said, but she’s up for the challenge. She said the council must be especially aware of the impact that rising property values have on seniors, who often have a tough time paying their tax bills, especially if they live near the waterfront.
Rancourt said she would encourage the council to invite more public involvement, especially on issues like the dog-leash ordinance on town beaches. The council recently passed a townwide, year-round leash law with little public notice or input.
“I’m certainly hearing from a lot of people about that,” Rancourt said. “The council went too far. Dog owners are taxpayers, too. Democracy is messy, but fuller public participation was warranted.”
Roy is seeking a sixth three-year term on the council, having served from 1991 through 1999 and 2008 through this election. She has been a registered nurse for 49 years, including as a clinical instructor at Mercy Hospital, and still works a few shifts each week.
Roy, who is single, said she’s running again because she enjoys community service.
“I’ve lived in Scarborough for 61 years,” Roy said when asked why she’s seeking re-election. “I care about this community and I enjoy being part of where it’s coming from and where it’s going.”
Roy said the town budget is always the biggest issue and she expects it will be in the future.
“The challenge we have is keeping Scarborough attractive to live in and raise a family on a budget that holds the line as much as possible,” Roy said. “I always say we have to do the best for the most with the least impact on taxpayers.”
Roy supports policies that promote business so Scarborough can maintain a diverse tax base, which is why the town has weathered the recession pretty well, she said. Roy noted that she has served on the long-range planning subcommittee, which has worked to streamline ordinances to make it easier to open a business in town.
Asked about her 2011 arrest for operating under the influence of alcohol, Roy said it was a devastating and embarrassing experience that occurred after attending a class reunion. She pleaded guilty, was fined $500 and had her driver’s license suspended for 90 days. Roy said it was a tough lesson to learn and she is grateful for community support.
“It took me awhile to get by that, but certainly it hasn’t affected my performance as a councilor,” she said. “Thankfully, I didn’t hurt myself or anyone else.”
Kelley Bouchard can be reached at 791-6328 or at:firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @KelleyBouchard