OLD ORCHARD BEACH – Five candidates for two seats on the Town Council took questions from residents and the media Wednesday night during a forum hosted by the Old Orchard Beach Chamber of Commerce.

About two dozen people turned out to hear what Michael Coleman, Dana Furtado, Eriq Manson, Maria Pastulovic and incumbent Sharri MacDonald had to say about various town issues and why they are running for council.

When asked what qualities make them a good candidate for council, each responded with a variety of attributes.

MacDonald said she is running for re-election to wrap up the work she has done as a councilor for the past two terms. She said her accessibility to the community has been a major attribute in her position.

Manson called himself a “human sponge” and emphasized his ability to listen to other views and ideas.

Pastulovic said she prides herself on being an advocate and a problem solver.

Furtado said that in addition to being a good listener, he’s a hard worker, a team player and a creative thinker.

While he stands strong on his own opinions, Coleman said, he also respects people with opposing viewpoints and searches for consensus before making decisions.

Residents asked how the candidates feel about animals, the proposed library expansion, a code of ethics for town employees and elected officials, and ongoing protests around the country in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.

When asked about creating a five- or 10-year plan for the town, all agreed that the comprehensive plan survey now before residents is an important tool. They also agreed that future budgets will have to focus on increasing town revenue.

MacDonald said The Ballpark made some money for the town this year and she expects it will make more next year. She also suggested using the wastewater treatment plant as a source of revenue.

“But we’ve got to figure out a way to attract businesses to the beach,” she said, an issue that has been a concern of hers as a councilor.

Manson said drawing more people to the town would help revenue. “We need to be a shining light to the public,” he said.

Pastulovic suggested looking into public-private partnerships to enhance business opportunities.

Furtado wants more emphasis on low-impact revenue streams, not raising the town’s property-tax rate. “We should be utilizing our public vehicles, parks and recreation facilities to increase our exposure,” he said.

Coleman said that increasing revenue can be tough in this economy, but creative steps such as renting advertising space on the town’s lifeguard stands during the summer could be an answer.

The forum, which aired on public-access television, will be rebroadcast in the days preceding the Nov. 8 election.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]