October 24, 2013

Newcomers, familiar faces seeking seats on Saco council

Some of the candidates’ priorities: Budgets, taxes, growth, RSU withdrawal and resident participation.

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

A former city councilor and a slate of political newcomers are running for open Saco City Council seats on Nov. 5.

All seven City Council seats will be voted on this year, but only four wards have contested races. Each term is for two years.

Two-term Councilor Marie Doucette is not seeking re-election, leaving the Ward 3 seat open for Bette Brunswick to run unopposed. Ward 5 Councilor Arthur Tardif and Ward 6 Councilor Eric Cote are running unopposed.

Here is a look at the races for the four contested seats.

Ward 1, THREE CANDIDATES

Councilor David Tripp of Ward 1 is running for mayor, leaving his seat open for a three-way race between former Councilor Margaret “Peg” Mills, political newcomer David Precourt and Cynthia Chadwick-Granger, a former Planning Board member.

Mills served two terms on the council before leaving two years ago. She decided to run again after she was asked to by residents and because she feels she can provide political balance to a board that includes many with more conservative viewpoints.

“We need a more even-handed and steady fiscal approach. We need to look hard at the budget; there have got to be more savings to be found,” said Mills, a 57-year-old retired librarian. “I have been told over and over again that there was a time when the city cut too much, and it took a long time to build the city back up. There has to be a happy medium.”

Mills said she would like to find a way to repair the closed Stackpole Bridge. She also said the council needs to take a citywide approach to economic development and not focus solely on downtown.

Precourt, 54, a self-employed excavation and landscaping contractor, ran unsuccessfully for council in the past, but wants another chance to address his concerns about the city budget. He is a member of Saco Citizens for Sensible Taxes and feels the City Council needs to make some hard decisions to avoid future tax increases and to control spending.

“I think we need some new blood in there. It’s been pretty stagnant over the years,” he said. “(The council) is not conservative in spending.”

If elected, Precourt would like to see more focus on filling the city’s industrial parks.

“We need to get good, reliable jobs. That’s something we really have to strive to work on to keep the younger population here,” he said. “We can’t keep our young people here, and it’s sad.”

Chadwick-Granger, 53, previously served on the Planning Board and is a member of Saco Citizens for Sensible Taxes. She said she is running for office because she wants to be more involved in the community and “keep the Saco spirit alive.” She supports withdrawing from Regional School Unit 23 to give the city more flexibility to control the education budget.

Chadwick-Granger said one of her main priorities is to support and create new businesses and jobs in the city.

“We need to work with our economic development team and create affordable lease options and flexibility of contract terms with owners,” she said. “We need to develop incentives to bring the right people into our community.”

Ward 2, TWO CANDIDATES

Incumbent Leslie Smith Jr. faces a challenge from Roger Gay in Ward 2.

Smith, the longest-serving councilor, was first elected in 1989 and says he has historical knowledge about city government that is valuable to the council. He is always trying to control taxes and wants residents to be more involved with ideas about how to save money.

“I’m tight with my own money,” he said. “I’m even tighter still with somebody else’s.”

(Continued on page 2)

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