SOUTH PORTLAND — Development priorities and middle school consolidation are top campaign issues in the City Council and School Board elections to be held Nov. 3.

Political newcomers Eben Rose and Ernest Stanhope are vying for the District 3 council seat being vacated by Melissa Linscott.

In District 4, incumbent Linda Cohen, who is serving as mayor this year, is being challenged by Andrew Snyder, another political newcomer.

In the District 4 School Board race, Matthew Perkins and Libby Reynolds are vying for the seat that James Gilboy gave up in July after his wife was hired for a grant-funded, part-time position at Kaler Elementary School.

All residents vote in all races, not only for the candidates in their home districts.

School Board incumbents Richard Matthews and Tappan Fitzgerald are running unopposed for the District 3 and District 5 seats.

In the District 3 council race, Rose and Stanhope have very different views on the role of the council in protecting or promoting business interests, including a proposed liquefied petroleum gas depot at Rigby Yard.

Rose, 57, said he decided to run because he became more aware of local politics when he joined an effort to keep the Portland Pipe Line Corp. from reversing its flow and bringing Canadian tar sands oil into the city. The council passed a so-called Clear Skies ordinance last year with that intent. The pipeline company is fighting the ordinance in federal court.

Rose, who now opposes the propane depot proposal, said he has learned a lot about municipal ordinances and the city’s comprehensive plan, which he described as “a road map for good decisions.”

“We have a comprehensive plan that actually speaks to South Portland becoming a desirable city, a destination city, a green city,” Rose said. And while he’s a small-business owner, Rose said he believes the council’s primary role is to protect the health, safety and welfare of citizens.

Stanhope, a self-described conservative, said he decided to run in District 3 because he wants to bring balance to a council he views as “leaning a little to one side” and “not business-friendly.”

Also a small-business owner, Stanhope said he was disappointed when Martin’s Point Healthcare lost interest in buying the former Hamlin Elementary School at 496 Ocean St. in the face of strong neighborhood opposition. While the property wasn’t up for sale – the city’s Planning and Development Department is housed there – Stanhope said the council could have been more encouraging. And he supports the propane depot proposal.

“I put a lot of faith in our fire department and code enforcement office,” said Stanhope, 44. “I don’t see what the issue is with (a propane depot).”

Cohen, 60, said she hopes to win a second three-year term as the District 4 councilor so she can continue to bring a measured approach to pressing issues and oversee municipal initiatives that started in recent years. They include the municipal services facility that’s under construction on Highland Avenue, the city’s move toward environmental sustainability and the Clear Skies ordinance that’s tied up in court.

“I think I’m doing a good job,” said Cohen, a bank manager. “I have the ability to see all sides of an issue before I make a decision.”

If she’s re-elected, Cohen said, she would address the various needs of a growing senior population, including access to affordable housing, and she would call for an in-depth community discussion about increasing traffic congestion.

“It’s really getting bad,” Cohen said. “It can take a half-hour to get across the city now.”

Andrew Snyder, 55, said he’s running because he believes “there needs to be a lot more accountability and transparency in the way the city’s being run.”

Snyder, a real estate broker, pointed to his annual property tax bill, which has increased from about $4,500 when his house was built in 2004 to about $5,700 today. In the same period, the assessed value of his home has dropped from $385,000 to $330,000.

“The city isn’t being maintained as well as it used to be,” Snyder said. “There’s a lot going on, but streets aren’t being repaired, parks aren’t being maintained.” Snyder said he would offer his experience as a business manager to help analyze problems facing the city and develop new systems to ensure quality and efficient municipal services.

In the District 4 School Board race, Perkins noted that his third and youngest child will start kindergarten at Dyer Elementary School next fall, so he’ll have a vested interest in the city’s schools for many years go come.

Perkins, who works in radio advertising, said he would like to help develop a plan to consolidate Mahoney and Memorial middle schools and would support following have adopted later middle- and high-school start times

“Even if we can make them a half-hour later, I think it would be better for the students,” said Perkins, 38, adding that studies show students who get at least eight hours of sleep each night have improved test scores, heal more quickly from sports injuries and are better able to fend off depression, obesity, diabetes and substance abuse.

Reynolds, a 41-year-old bank manager, said she’s not running with any agenda or mission in mind, though she is interested in the budget process and the middle school consolidation effort. Her second and youngest child will start kindergarten at Skillin Elementary School next fall.

“I wish more people were running and could be involved,” said Reynolds, whose father was a school superintendent. “I’m interested in how it all works and in how (board members) come to decisions.”

 

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