Two incumbents are facing two challengers for two seats on the Gorham Town Council.

Muhammad Khan, an 18-year-old college student, and Marla Stelk, 45, a policy analyst for the Association of Wetland Managers, are hoping to unseat Councilors Sherrie Benner and Shonn Moulton.

Benner, 55, a Realtor, was first elected to the council in 2012.

She believes the town needs to review its zoning, fees and permitting process to figure out the best way to attract and retain businesses needed to support the cost of its growing population.

“It is important as we go forward to remember that quality of life and economic development are interdependent objectives,” she said.

Preserving Gorham’s historic assets is also a priority for Benner, who would like to see the town apply to become a Maine Street Maine community to receive help promoting and revitalizing the downtown. She also sees potential for growth in the Little Falls village.

Additionally, Benner wants to strengthen the town’s ties with the University of Southern Maine, her alma mater, which could help bring in more businesses, she said.

Benner believes the growing senior population deserves more dedicated housing and meeting space.

A 30-year Gorham resident, Benner ran last term because she wanted to give back to her community. Now, she said, “I am looking forward to continue serving to be the voice of the community and be a steward for the town’s growth for 2016 and beyond.”

Moulton, 39, served on the council from 2006 to 2009, then again, starting in 2012.

Like Benner, he sees spurring economic growth to lower taxes as the most immediate challenge facing the town. The industrial park, he said, is prime space for new companies.

“As one of the fastest-growing Maine communities, we are seeing a strain on services,” he said.

Moulton would also like to see improvements to the town’s roads and more creative solutions to meeting other needs, much like the collaboration among town officials and businesspeople that’s led to new recreational fields.

Moulton, director of corporate sponsorships for the Maine Red Claws, said he’s an effective leader with strong relationships within town and consideration for residents of all ages.

“I have a deep understanding of our town, its history, where we are now, and a vision for the future,” he said.

Khan, who is studying psychology at the University of Southern Maine, graduated in the spring from Gorham High School, where he served as the class president, chairman of the School Council and a student representative on the school board.

If elected, he’d like to focus on encouraging more young people to live and work in Gorham.

He would like to establish a town youth committee, through which the local high school and college students could voice their opinions.

“It will work to ensure the future of Gorham is heard,” he said.

Khan, an assistant manager at the local Papa John’s Pizza, said he has the most clear message of any candidate for council.

“The USM and GHS community doesn’t feel like they are a part of Gorham. This is the most important issue facing our town,” he said. “I am the candidate that can help fix it.”

Stelk sees Gorham’s greatest challenge as coming up with a comprehensive plan for dealing with the effects of the rapid population growth, such as traffic, sprawl, crime, pollution and a change in identity.

“Our current patchwork approach to development doesn’t follow any long-term vision or strategic plan,” she said.

Her solutions include adopting a “complete streets” policy to improve pedestrian safety and calm traffic, developing a policy for protecting the town’s historic resources and creating a marketing plan for vacant industrial and commercial properties.

She’d also like to see a dedicated senior center with activities and educational opportunities and to build a better relationship with USM, whose bus system could be expanded for use by residents.

With a master’s degree in community planning and development, Stelk felt a responsibility to step up and offer her expertise to her community and believes she is the best poised to address the challenges posed by the town’s population growth.

“Doing things the way we’ve always done them doesn’t seem to be working,” she said. “Gorham needs fresh ideas and someone on the Town Council with the knowledge, experience, vision and passion to implement them.”

Also on the Nov. 3 ballot are School Committee members Darryl Wright and Timothy Burns, who are running uncontested. No one submitted papers to run for a one-year vacancy on the school board, which will be filled by a write-in candidate.


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