Dennis E. Welch, 38, is a newcomer to Westbrook politics. A Republican, he is running against Democratic incumbent Brendan Rielly in Ward 1. Welch ran an unsuccessful bid for a council seat in Standish six years ago. He moved to Westbrook two years ago.

Welch has been a corrections officer for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department for the last 19 years. He is president of his union.

“There’s no one political issue I’m upset with. I just want to do it.” Welch said. “I’ve always been interested in local politics and I think more people should get involved.”

Welch likes the idea of expanding the old Wescott Junior High School once it is vacated to consolidate municipal and school offices and add a larger swimming pool and ice rink.

“Especially with the ice rink,” he said. “The ice time could bring revenue.”

He said the city should take a serious look at how much the taxpayer’s contribution would have to be.

“I would hope that they wouldn’t have to pay anything,” Welch said, noting that more than $1 million from the taxpayers would not fly.

Welch said he would have supported the sex offender ordinance the council passed, but he doesn’t think it should be any stricter than what it is. He said there are legitimate concerns with the ordinance being too strict.

He said sentencing is too lenient and the state needs to step in. He said he likes a piece of legislation in Florida that included stronger sentencing and monitoring of sex offenders after their release.

Regarding the city’s $84,000 settlement with former Human Resources Director Tina Crellin, Welch said he would have supported the mayor.

“It could have cost the city a lot more. I don’t know. I just wish it didn’t happen,” he said of the conflict between Crellin and Councilor Michael Foley.

When Welch first heard of the possibility that a needle exchange program could open in Westbrook, his first reaction was vehement opposition.

But, he said, after he looked into the details of the program, he decided it could work if it could show success on getting people into treatment programs. He’s interested in hearing more about it.

Welch is a proponent of a variety of public safety initiatives, including a revised juvenile curfew and the hiring of a full-time traffic officer to address speeding.

Welch thinks the city is on track with economic development, though he’d like to see more of it, particularly away from the downtown and along Route 302, which he acknowledged comes with significant sewer system expansion costs that he hopes businesses could pick up.

Welch also said he wants Saccarappa Park to remain an open space.

Welch said he is enjoying campaigning, and enjoys hearing the citizens’ opinions.

Dennis E. Welsh

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