Five candidates for the Westbrook City Council are competing in two races on Nov. 3

The council’s longest-serving member, John O’Hara, is being challenged for his at-large seat by Michael Dobkowski, an Internet marketing specialist who would push for economic development.

In Ward 3, incumbent Councilor Paul Emery is facing challenges from Susan Rossignol, the city’s former finance director, and Anna Turcotte, a bank vice president and mother of two young children.

O’Hara, 57, the facilities manager at the Portland International Jetport, has served on the council for 18 years.

If elected to another term, he’d like to see the city work with its legislative representatives to prevent further cuts to revenue-sharing and work on retiring debt, considering the approved public services facility project and potential upcoming school renovations, which he supports.

In general, he said, he’d like to see the city continue “our upward mobility in relation to our place in the Greater Portland region.”

Trail systems, dog parks and multilevel retail offices are among the amenities he sees in neighboring communities and would like to see in Westbrook.

O’Hara believes his willingness to engage in debate and think outside of the box have helped Westbrook through a recent resurgence and, along with his experience, are needed to keep pushing the city forward.

Dobkowski, 42, a Westbrook business owner, wants to improve the city’s business climate, work to create more jobs and explore new options for transportation.

He believes his political science and business school education has given him analytical skills that would benefit the council.

He would also work to better collaborate with school officials to “collectively and efficiently work towards what’s best for our residents,” he said.

Dobkowski said in his experience outside of Maine, especially living in Chicago, he’s seen how cities can be transformed.

“It’s now time for us to take Westbrook to a whole new level,” he said.

Two challengers are hoping to unseat Emery, after a controversial year for the councilor.

The other members of the council passed a resolution in May asking Emery to resign for suggesting – during a public forum held by state Democratic leaders – that Gov. Paul LePage should be assassinated.

Emery, 73, said the comments were meant as a joke and apologized, but did not step down.

If elected to another term, Emery would like to focus on tackling the city’s heroin problem by providing education about and treating addiction.

He’d also continue working with the schools and encouraging economic growth to help lower taxes.

A Realtor and former planning board member, Emery believes his work and political experience make him the best candidate.

Rossignol, who has previously run for council and city clerk, is also no stranger to controversy.

After 32 years as the city’s finance director, she was not reappointed to the position and later banned from City Hall.

She did not respond to several requests for information about her candidacy for this story.

Turcotte, a political newcomer, is an Armenian refugee who moved to the United States as a teenager.

Upon moving to Maine for law school in 2000, she said, she “fell in love with the state,” where her husband grew up. They now have two young children, who Turcotte said were the inspiration for her candidacy.

“We are invested in the city’s future because we love Westbrook and everything it offers,” she said.

Education would be a priority for Turcotte – in particular, solving overcrowding problems at the schools.

She’d also focus on filling empty storefronts downtown and enhancing programming at the community center.

Also on the ballot is Gary Rairdon, who is running uncontested for re-election to his seat representing Ward 4.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: