The race for two open seats on the Old Orchard Beach Town Council features three experienced councilors who were all elected during a 2013 recall election that removed six board members from office.

Joseph Thornton and Jay Kelley have served continuously since the June 2013 election, while former Councilor Roxanne Frenette is looking to return to the board after several years away from local politics.

Thornton, 33, currently is the council chairman, a position he’s held since last year. He now works in emergency communications and first moved to Old Orchard after working there as a summer reserve officer.

During the past four years, the council has put in “a lot of work” toward addressing infrastructure needs in town, including at the Ballpark and the wastewater treatment plant, and he’d like to see that phased approach continue, he said.

“(The council) works together well and come up with new approaches to funding major infrastructure needs,” Thornton said. “We certainly don’t agree on everything, but this council is able to work together to come to agreement or cooperation to meet our goals. I feel a responsibility to finish that for the town.”

Thornton said he has been talking to many residents who have questions about the casino referendum on the Nov. 7 statewide ballot. A development study from the backers of the ballot measure identified Old Orchard Beach as a potential site for the project. Thornton said it is premature to have a view on the casino issue because it has not been approved by voters or officially proposed in Old Orchard Beach, but if it passes, he anticipates that the council will have community forums to gather input from residents.

“If (voters) are happy with the current fiscal responsibility of this council, I would encourage them to keep the council the same way it is,” Thornton said.

Kelley, a 65-year-old retired firefighter, is a lifelong Old Orchard Beach resident seeking his second full term on the council.

“I think we’ve done a lot of good since the recall time, which was kind of a black eye against the council. We’re on a nice even keel and I want to continue that work,” he said.

Since 2013, the council has been able to update town equipment while maintaining a reasonable tax rate, Kelley said. He often hears from residents who want to talk about property taxes, but Kelley said he believes the taxes are now at a reasonable rate.

“I think people in Old Orchard Beach should be proud of the way we handle that and that we haven’t had to up on taxes,” he said.

Kelley said he is often quiet during council meetings, but that’s because he doesn’t like to talk just to hear himself speak. Instead, he’d rather listen carefully to residents and town employees about their concerns or input.

“I think it’s a great council (now) because we can agree to disagree and walk out of the room as friends. We’re very courteous to each other,” he said. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Frenette, 56, retired from the Maine Turnpike Authority after a 31-year career and now works part-time as an occupancy specialist at The Pines. With her children now grown and more free time on her hands, Frenette said she can again dedicate time to serving on the council and continuing what she described as the “good work” the council has done in the past couple of years.

“I can hit the ground running knowing what we’re doing,” she said.

Frenette said she is particularly concerned about the town’s sewer use fee, which she says is not fair and equitable because it is part of the individual property tax regardless of whether the home is on the sewer system.

“This is an issue that has bothered me for years that I would like to address,” she said. “We’re one of two communities that have it part of the tax bill instead of paying it as a user fee paid to the community. It’s been brought up before, but nothing ever happens.”

As a councilor, Frenette she wants to be part of the process of keeping Old Orchard Beach affordable for anyone who wants to live there.

“I want to keep going in the right direction,” she said.

Old Orchard Beach residents also will vote Nov. 7 to fill two open seats on the Regional School Unit 23 Board of Directors. Incumbent Peter Flaherty, current vice-chairman of the school board, is seeking another term. The other candidates are Christopher Lasalle and Christopher Prosser. Both seats carry a three-year term.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

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