GORHAM – Gorham voters in the municipal election on Tuesday, Nov. 5, will choose three town councilors in five-way race to serve three-year terms.

The field includes one incumbent, Matthew Robinson, and challengers Forrest Genthner, Benjamin Hartwell, James Means and Bruce Roullard. The present council chairman, Philip Gagnon, and councilor John Pressey are not seeking re-election.

Newly elected councilors will be sworn in at the next council meeting set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12, in Gorham Municipal Center, 75 South St.

The American Journal asked each candidate the same questions. These are their answers:

Forrest Genthner

Age: 18

Occupation: Student at Saint Joseph’s College; customer service representative at MZ Enterprises

Political experience: Worked on 2012 presidential campaign in Maine and New Hampshire; served on high school council for four years

Q: What is your position on the Public Safety Building situation?

A: I think we need to focus on our debt. I have been in the public safety building and believe that there is enough room for police and fire. A police/fire station for Little Falls is not needed with a fire station in North Gorham. I think if police and fire need more room they should reorganize and if worse comes to worse, get a renovation to renovate the space. This would end up saving $5 million for the taxpayers while providing proper services to the police, fire and the Gorham taxpayers.

Q: Should Gorham High School be expanded or renovated at local taxpayers expense?

A: I have been in Gorham High School and do believe it is cramped. I believe in smart debt, where we should only borrow when we need to. If it is necessary, we should expand Gorham High School to help serve our children better. However, I would take into consideration the recommendation of the School Committee.

Q: Why do you want to serve on the Town Council?

A: I am a life-ong resident of Gorham. I love Gorham, I went K-12 here. I want to help Gorham as much as I can and this is one way I see to do that.

Ben Hartwell

Age: 33

Occupation: Farmer (grass fed beef) and livestock/equine fence contracting

Political experience: Cum-

berland County Cooperative Extension executive board; President, Cumberland County Farm Bureau; vice president, Maine Grass Farmers Network

Q: What is your position on the Public Safety Building situation?

A: The cost proposed has been too much. However, I fully understand that something needs to be done. After speaking to someone on the police force, I think the best thing to do would be to renovate a portion of Little Falls for the police. This would be far cheaper than renovating it to accommodate fire trucks. The space formerly used by the police should provide plenty of room to fill the Fire Departments needs.

Q: Should Gorham High School be expanded or renovated at local taxpayers expense?

A: It’s hard to make a judgment on this without the specifics. However, it is our town and our kids, who else should pay for it? If you believe that federal dollars or state money appears like magic then that may be your choice, but reality tells me that it should be our expense. This also brings up an interesting subject about the true cost of development. What is the true cost burden development puts on a town?

Q: Why do you want to serve on the Town Council?

A: First of all I’d be lying if I send I wanted to serve on the Town Council, I’m not running because I’m excited and want to do it. I’m running because I feel I need to do it. Having joined the military after 9-11, I have a pretty good idea what selfless service means.

James D. Means

Age: 64

Occupation: Retired after a 35-year career in commercial real estate, including asset management of a $350 million (average) portfolio located in 30 states and most U.S. major markets; founder of Alliance Investment & Management Co.

Political experience: Member and vice chairman of Gorham Economic Development Corp. (2002-2012); coordinator of a congressional candidate’s volunteer force in 2010.

Q: What is your position on the Public Safety Building situation?

A: While the strongest advocate for fire/police, I believe that the new council must be cognizant of the voters’ wishes. The existing public safety building should be made safe and functional at the lowest cost. The process to identify needs vs. wants begins with the selection of a new design professional truly interested in our objective. If an expanded and functional building can be delivered at a modest cost, the new council should unite and lead. If costs continue to come in at a $5-plus million level, then we should do the work in phases, with voter approval.

Q: Should Gorham High School be expanded or renovated at local taxpayers expense?

A: The School Committee has not yet made its recommendation. If, as speculated, a plan to add only four classrooms, an expanded cafeteria, increased parking and athletic fields is proposed with an $11 million to $15 million price tag paid solely by Gorham taxpayers, then I am opposed. We cannot expect to keep raising taxes without affecting the economic viability of Gorham, whether the negative impact on homeowners, retirees or our businesses.

Q: Why do you want to serve on the Town Council?

A: Simply put, to ensure the successful future of Gorham. I believe that our Comprehensive Plan, while needing updating, addresses the assets and identifies areas of further opportunities for Gorham. We have abundant land and a vibrant community, both of which need preserving. The vision of a quintessential and picturesque small New England Town needs to be restored, while catering to new business and industrial development. Our proximity to Portland (the employment and cultural center of Maine) and the amenities of the JetPort, the Maine Mall area, I-95 (Maine’s only interstate highway), the Atlantic Ocean and Maine lakes and mountains is unique to only a handful of communities. We need to market these advantages and attract new businesses and residents to our fine Town. Add to that, our very own University of Southern Maine with its cultural and educational offerings and we have an unbeatable quality of life.

Matthew Robinson

Age: 46

Occupation: Territory sales manager, Standard Motor Products for 251?2 years.

Political experience: Served on the Gorham Town Council for 12 years; council chairman two years; vice chairman three years; served on the Gorham Finance committee for two years, chairman once; Gorham Ordinance Committee for eight years, chairman four times; Gorham Capitol Improvements Committee for 10 years, chairman four times; Cumberland County Budget Advisory Committee for two years.

Q: What is your position on the Public Safety Building situation?

A: Anyone that thinks this building is an adequate workspace needs to go inside the building and take a look. What the council needs to do is all agree on a location, then needs to look at design plans to see what needs to be done to the building, then needs to do a better job explaining what’s the best overall plan for the town. Then let the voters decide.

Q: Should Gorham High School be expanded or renovated at local taxpayer’s expense?

A: This is a tough question to answer and is a little premature to make any decisions because the School Committee has not done a presentation to the council or told anyone how much it will cost. We have all heard rumors of anywhere from $4 million to $14 million. Will it be build in phases? I know we are in need of extra classrooms to remove the portables, the cafeteria need to be expanded, these items I’m in favor of as long as we do not include every bell and whistle. I know there are many other needs, but we need to prioritize what need to be done first. This will be the first school expansion funded 100 percent by Gorham taxpayers. I think this could be done for a few million dollars.

Q: Why do you want to serve on the Town Council?

A: I have shown over the past 12 years I’ve been able to do this by making tough decisions. I’ve always tried to spend taxpayer’s money wisely, not supporting words like research, review, study money and staff time. Councilors need to be well informed, do lots of homework on their own and realize there is more to Gorham than their own neighborhood. People who know me or watch the town meetings realize I always speak open and honestly, but also keep the Gorham residents best interest in mind. People feel that I’m fair and honest. My past history shows that I’m hard working and will work very hard for you. The reason I’m the best candidate running is that I’m here for you; I never vote on emotions or let personal beliefs interfere with the way I vote. I have no Hidden agenda. I always vote for what is best for all 17,000 residents of Gorham. My goal is to always do what’s best for Gorham.

Bruce Roullard

Age: 51

Occupation: Mortgage lender, Guaranteed Rate Inc., Portland.

Political experience: Past Town Council candidate,.

Q: What is your position on the Public Safety Building situation?

A: Gorham has experienced significant population growth in the past decade and because of this, there is a greater demand for public safety. Last year a committee was appointed to review the existing public safety facility in response to concerns expressed by our public safety officials on the physical plant conditions at the 270 Main St. property. Several inadequacies and inefficiencies were identified. When the Main Street building was constructed in the mid 1970s, the fire department had no full-time staff and the town population was just under 7,000. With the town population approaching 17,000 today, coupled with the number of new neighborhoods created within the 59 square miles of Gorham, there is a greater demand for police and fire protection resulting in an increase in the number of full-time public safety personnel. The infrastructure of our public safety facility requires capital improvements. In evaluating whether to construct a new public safety building or to renovate the older facility, we must assess the current public safety building and determine the feasibility of improving the existing structure. In June voters rejected the public safety complex bond issue. The public needs input into this process, and there must be a differentiation between the wants and needs of our public safety officials. Bond issues will have financial implications on the municipal budget and therefore, all proposals brought forth to the citizens of Gorham must be transparent.

Q: Should Gorham High School be expanded or renovated at local taxpayers expense?

A: Our school properties must be equipped and updated to provide our students with every educational opportunity available to them now and in the future. An expansion/renovation of Gorham High School will undoubtedly be at the expense of the local taxpayer and in the form of a bond issue. We are faced with state budget challenges, and funds available for supporting capital improvements to our public schools has been significantly reduced and in some cases eliminated. Any proposal presented to the Town Council and citizens for the funding of an expansion/renovation of Gorham High school must be fair and reasonable and reflect the cost/benefits associated of providing a higher quality education for our students. An analysis of the project’s debt service and effect on the local tax payer must be carefully considered.

Q: Why do you want to serve on the Town Council?

A: I am running for Town Council because I care about Gorham, its historic landscape, and development. I offer over two decades of active dedication to several nonprofits, experience in overseeing the renovation and restoration of historic buildings in the village center, and successful small business management. As an active 25-year alumnus with USM, I am excited about partnering USM and the town of Gorham. If elected, I pledge to work toward those goals while holding the Town Council accountable for all its decisions.

Forrest GenthnerBen HartwellJames D. MeansMatthew RobinsonBruce Roullard


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