There are three candidates for the District 1 City Council seat on South Portland. David Bourke, Quirino “Skip” Lucarelli and Claude Morgan are all newcomers to city elections. Incumbent David Jacobs is not seeking reelection.

David Bourke

David Bourke is running for the South Portland City Council because he wants to give back to the community and believes he has the time and experience to be an effective councilor.

“I am committed to reducing the cost of government by focusing on providing essential services in the most efficient and effective manner possible,” he said.

Bourke said escalating property taxes will continue to be an issue, especially considering the pending property revaluation in 2006. He said the only ways to lower taxes is reducing spending and creating a larger tax base. If elected, he would work on both issues.

“I’m definitely in favor of increasing residential and commercial development,” he said.

Bourke believes the city should focus on expanding small business because they provide the most jobs and often need the most help to be successful.

Bourke was a member of the of the Mayor’s 1 Percent Tax Cap committee that studied ways to reduce city spending. He said the committee identified $18 million in potential savings.

“We should use this as a blueprint to prioritize and cut the unnecessary, wasteful and inefficient cost of government,” he said.

Bourke feels the council should review the report and separate the needs from the wants to find ways to reduce spending.

One example is the city bus system, which could save money by using smaller shuttle buses, he said.

Bourke said the city has a chance for savings by consolidating services both within the city and with other municipalities. The city already has consolidated the parks and public works departments.

“That’s working very well; we need to do things like that,” he said.

Bourke believes that the school district should apply for state building aid before any construction takes place. He said any school project should receive state funding before starting.

“We should not take on any additional debt until a similar amount of existing debt has been paid off,” he said.

The school district is current investigating tearing down Memorial Middle School and rebuilding a new school. This will leave the district two options – renovating Mahoney or consolidating both schools at the Memorial site. There also are plans for renovations at the high school.

He thinks the school system could do a better job in educating students so it is competitive with the best schools in New England.

“Just being average (on SAT and MEA scores) and having repeatingly failing schools is unacceptable,” he said. “Our students must be prepared for post secondary education and the changing and challenging needs of employers in Maine.”

Bourke is a member of the city manager’s task force for recommendations on the changes to the dog ordinance and said he would support the group’s recommendation if elected.

The committee recently unveiled their plans, which include defining “voice control” for off-leash dogs, keeping dogs on leashes on public roads and sidewalks.

He supports the Knightville redevelopment plan and said the council should incorporate it into the city’s master plan.

Bourke, 61, is a retired from the restaurant business where he was a vice president and director of operations for a major restaurant company. Bourke also is a past president of the Willard Neighborhood Association and a classroom volunteer at the elementary level.

Quirino “Skip” Lucarelli

Quirino “Skip” Lucarelli is running for City Council to try and keep taxes lower while providing South Portland students with a good education.

“To control the spending is one of the biggest issues facing South Portland today,” he said.

If elected Lucarelli said he would listen and respond to people’s concerns, something he feels the present council is not doing.

One of the biggest issues facing the city is the high tax rate that is causing older residents to move from their homes. Lucarelli said he would like to cap taxes for older residents living on fixed incomes who have been living in the city for many years.

Lucarelli said the city also should be trying to attract businesses that pay higher wages, and working to keep young people in Maine rather than moving away for more opportunity.

“We’ve got to stop saying no to development,” he said. “I think our biggest goal is to entice business to this area that would offer better paying jobs.”

Lucarelli said the city must go out and find companies willing to build in South Portland and attract them with tools such as tax-increment financing districts.

Lucarelli also would like to allow more affordable housing in the city, but said it is difficult given the taxes and increasing property costs.

Lucarelli also is against the city’s decision to move forward with a property revaluation next year saying it’s “insane.”

“A reval at this time is not warranted,” he said.

He believes the school could save money by reducing the number of administrators. He also is not in favor of closing any school buildings, saying the district should do a better job maintaining the facilities. He also thinks that it is not the right time to undertake the construction of a new school. He believes the district should continue to be funded at its current level.

“Education is not bricks and mortar, it’s teachers,” he said, adding that teachers should be better paid.

On the city side, Lucarelli would like to see more consolidation of services like the city has already done when it combined the public works department with the parks department.

“We’ve got too many people working for the city,” he said.

Lucarelli said the city should fine dog owners $1,000 for not picking up their dogs’ waste, since the main issue with dogs in public places seems to be waste.

Lucarelli said he would like to reinstate the annual big-item trash pickup in the city that has been stopped.

He also thinks the proposal to construct a boat ramp in Knightville is a “waste of money.” He also questions why the Knightville area is being rezoned when the rest of the city is not.

“Revitalization needs to be done across the whole city,” he said.

He also thinks the council should implement a rule that requires a supermajority vote to pass any tax increase.

Lucarelli has been on the Civil Service Commission for 20 years and is a member of the South Portland Housing Development Corporation’s Advisory Board.

Lucarelli, 66, is owner and manager of Summit Terrace Apartments in South Portland and owner of Lucarelli Construction Company. He is married to Rachel and the two have four grown stepchildren.

Claude Morgan

This is Claude Morgan’s first attempt at running for public office. He would like to see the city do some things differently.

Morgan, a financial investigator, said he is running because he “believes in the potential for our neighborhoods and communities to offer up better models of city government.”

Morgan, 44, said he would like to see the city undertaking responsible economic development, and begin to think about its next-generation economic base and what people want in South Portland.

Morgan said the city should try to attract businesses that admire the city’s investment in the community, such as education and quality of life.

He also believes the city should continue to fund its school system to the best of its ability to ensure that the good work the schools are now doing continues.

“That’s where we need to be supporting; that’s where we need to put our investments,” Morgan said.

Morgan also would like to see a fairer distribution of the tax burden. He said more than 60 percent of property taxes in 2001 were borne by businesses. Now that number is sliding and if residential property values continue to increase at current levels it will eventually be a 50-50 split.

Morgan believes there are ways to reduce the slide, such as a luxury and travel tax on hotels and prepared food. While state law bars municipalities from doing this, Morgan said no one has really pushed the issue.

Morgan said the school district’s spending is appropriate. He said the district is one of the most efficient in the state and is a model for other cities in terms of reducing costs while providing a high-quality education.

Morgan does not have a particular favorite in terms of the district’s future building needs and said he would support any plan that that received broad-based community support.

“If the people in South Portland want two middle schools and that’s their wish then they should have two middle schools,” he said.

Morgan also would like to see more “community-based development” occur in the city. Rather than having a developer come into an area and say what will be done with the land, community-based development would allow a developer to meet with concerned residents to develop a plan on which both sides can agree.

“The correct way is to scrutinize developers and choose them for their innovations rather than expedience,” he said.

Morgan believes that the planning for Knightville is one example of cutting-edge urban planning and said the area is wise to institute a long-range plan. He would like to see this approach be done citywide.

“The city should be doing everything it can to help neighborhood associations flourish because the neighborhood associations come up with some very innovative ideas,” he said.

Morgan is president of the South Portland Dog Owners Group and supports allowing dogs to be in public spaces.

“I’m a dog owner and I promote responsible dog ownership and that means respecting the community,” he said. “Myself and 120 other dog owners clean South Portland parks one time a month and we leave the parks cleaner than we find them.”

David BourkeQuirino “Slip” LucarelliClaude Morgan

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