Five candidates are vying for one seat on the Sanford City Council in the Nov. 5 election.
An incumbent, Kenneth Burgess, will face off against Victor DiGregorio, a former town meeting representative and elected Finance Committee member, and three people seeking elective office for the first time: Grady Fox, Robert Ege and Dianne Connolly. The winner will serve a three-year term.
The field of candidates is largely focused on municipal spending and bringing new businesses to Sanford, which has struggled economically since its mills and other industries closed or left the city.
After three years on the council, Burgess, 44, said he wants to continue because he is “concerned about the direction the town is headed.”
“I see us possibly going backwards,” he said. “My main concern is our taxes. I think we’re too high and need to make some drastic changes.”
Burgess, a lifelong Sanford resident who works for Hussey Seating Co., said he believes there is some wasteful spending going on – particularly with grant matching and the creation of parks. He said he would bring a common-sense approach to evaluating the city’s needs. He said it is essential to engage more residents in discussions about the municipal budget.
“We need to purchase what we need and not what we want,” he said. “We need to get residents involved in lowering spending.”
Connolly, 47, said she is running for City Council because she is not happy with property-tax increases, including the 4 percent increase this year.
“I think the council can tighten their own purse strings before they go after our money,” she said. “They need to be looking farther ahead and pay attention to what’s going on. There’s got to be a better way to balance our taxes.”
Connolly said she also is upset by what she sees as a lack of communication between city councilors and residents. She also feels the council needs to revisit the city’s new pay-as-you-throw trash program, which she said “was shoved down our throats.”
DiGregorio, a retired businessman who has run for City Council in the past, said he wants to “make improvements to the quality of the council and act as a catalyst to encourage them to be more communicative with their townspeople.”
“My goal is to improve and maintain direct communication between residents and the city by establishing a toll-free hotline and website,” he said.
DiGregorio said one of his goals is to make other city councilors think outside the box, whether it is about ways to generate revenue, improve city services or save money in schools.
“I want to be a tool to provide innovation and insight,” DiGregorio said. “I want to make a contribution of thinking, doing and collaborating.”
Robert Ege, a veteran who has served on a charter commission and warrant committee, is running because “I feel the actions of the City Council (have) grown more and more conflicting with public interests.”
“As an everyman citizen of this city, I believe I offer a fresh perspective that is in line with what people want and, because of this, I will be able to help the city flourish,” he said.
Ege said Sanford needs to create an environment that is conducive to new businesses and find more ways to support existing businesses. He said he also wants to eliminate unnecessary burdens on residents, such as pay-as-you-throw trash.
Fox said he believes the majority of the city is misrepresented with the current makeup of the City Council.
“Government as a whole seems to have forgotten their positions are one of public service and have turned a deaf ear to the same public they asked during elections to vote them into their current positions,” he said.
Fox said he believes economic growth and development are key to the long-term success of the city.
“We need to think outside the box and work with companies to come up with creative ways to allow them to establish themselves and prosper in our community, while also protecting our downtown business district, which is full of wonderful locally owned shops,” Fox said.
Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:[email protected]