November 5, 2013

Crowded field vying for seven Biddeford City Council seats

A mix of political newcomers and former councilors seek office.

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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McCurry said he wants to make sure taxpayer money isn’t used to fund a downtown parking garage, which is still in the conceptual phase. City officials have said parking meters could be installed downtown in the future, which McCurry sees as detrimental to the area.

Andrew Russell, who has not previously run for office in Biddeford, did not respond to interview requests.

Ward 4

Councilor Melissa Bednarowski is not seeking a second term, leaving the Ward 4 seat open for either Robert Quattrone Jr. or Dominic Deschambault, both Biddeford natives and political newcomers.

Quattrone, 41, said he is making his first run for political office to become more involved in his hometown and make sure residents of his ward have a voice in decisions about the city’s future. A boiler operator and father of two, Quattrone began speaking out at council meetings last year when he opposed the purchase of the site of MERC, where he worked.

Quattrone said as a city councilor he would focus on bringing economic development to all areas of the city and addressing the tax rate.

“The issue that is most important to people I talk to is that taxes seem to be just running away,” he said. “Taxes are outpacing our incomes in this town and things are getting to a breaking point.”

Deschambault, a 29-year-old customer service representative for Time Warner, is making his first run for office, following in the footsteps of his mother, Susan Deschambault, a former city councilor.

“At this point, we’re at a crossroads like a lot of mill towns in the Northeast. I think we have a lot of great opportunities to make the transition and enter into a new phase of the economy and the way in which the city should be operated,” he said. “I understand the history of where we come from and what we’ve done to get here.”

If elected, Deschambault said he would like to focus on job growth and take a closer look at the budget to see if there are excesses that could be eliminated to avoid tax increases.

Ward 5

Bob Mills, who since 2007 has represented the ward that encompasses much of downtown, this year faces a challenge from Carol Boisjoly.

Mills said he wants another term on the council to continue working on a variety of projects, including economic development and the future of the MERC property.

“I’ve seen in other communities how development and the economy held things back. In Biddeford we suffered that tremendously, but we’re moving forward with new businesses and new ideas,” Mills said.

Mills did not support the budget during the last cycle and wants to look for ways to streamline services and increase revenue.

Boisjoly, 57, a former nurse now on disability, ran unsuccessfully for Mills’ seat two years ago. She said she is running again to give voice to many in the community who are overlooked, including those who are homeless.

She would like to see the city create a homeless shelter, find alternative ways to fund infrastructure improvements and ensure Biddeford is seen as a business-friendly community.

“I’m all for the future of Biddeford, but we also can’t forget about the present,” she said. “We need to take care of problems before we take that giant step into the future.”

Ward 6

Council President Rick Laverriere, who has served four consecutive terms representing Ward 6, faces his first challenge since he was elected to the City Council. Roger Hurtubise, a former city councilor, said he is looking to unseat Laverriere and control spending through fiscal responsibility.

“People want a change in the administration. They are fed up with their taxes being raised the last two years,” said Hurtubise, a 68-year-old retired customer service representative. “It’s almost like an open credit card right now. The people are tired of the taxes and they’re tired of what’s going on in the city.”

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