A crowded field of candidates is seeking seats on the Biddeford City Council, including several former councilors and a former mayor looking to return to elected office.

City residents on Nov. 3 will elect nine city councilors, including two for at-large seats, for two-year terms. Two current councilors, Roger Hurtubise and Clement Fleurent, are not seeking re-election.

During the next two years, the council will likely face decisions about economic development in a city that is seeing a surge in investment in both the downtown and business parks. Since the City Council voted in 2012 to buy the former site of the Maine Energy Recovery Co. trash incinerator, private developers have committed to investing more than $70 million in approved projects downtown, including converting a former textile mill into a $50 million hotel.

In the past nine months, the council has at times faced heavy criticism from some residents after Matt Lauzon, a Boston businessman, went public with allegations of abuse by a police officer. No charges were filed in that case. While public interest was intense, none of the council candidates says it prompted them to run.

Residents of all seven wards will vote Nov. 3 at the Tiger Gym at Biddeford High School on Maplewood Avenue. The City Clerk’s Office will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 29 for absentee voting, registering voters and changes of name and address.

COUNCILOR-AT-LARGE

Five candidates, one an incumbent, are running for at-large seats on the council.

Incumbent Marc Lessard is seeking a sixth term, though he has not served those terms consecutively. He faces challenges from Melissa Bednarowski, a former councilor who voted against the MERC property purchase, and Joanne Twomey, a former mayor and state representative. Other candidates are Laura Seaver ,a former school committee member, and Doris McAuliffe, a political newcomer who began attending council meetings during the sex abuse controversy.

Lessard, a 52-year-old regional manager, has served two of his five terms as council president. He said his voting record demonstrates the fiscal responsibility needed in tough times. If re-elected, Lessard said, he will focus on growing the local economy and scrutinizing the city tax rate to make sure every penny counts.

“The city needs continued investment in business and industrial parks that will diversify our tax base and lower taxes for homeowners,” he said. “The city needs continued efforts to attract investment and make Biddeford a premier investment area for business expansion.”

Bednarowski, 40, served one previous term on the council, but didn’t seek a second term in 2013 because of her career. Now, she said, she is ready to continue bringing “honest, straightforward dialogue to city decisions.” Bednarowksi said she wants to create a more efficient budget by reducing and controlling costs, putting in place a freeze on the acquisition of new property and selling vacant lots owned by the city.

“I will bring a business approach to government by creating a stronger economy through more effective city government practices,” she said. “I will institute city services that enrich the quality of life, including drivable streets, walkable sidewalks and sustainability of our infrastructure.”

McAuliffe, 65, is retired and a homemaker who says her years of running a household gave her experience with financial needs. She said she decided to run for council because “many people are dissatisfied and disappointed with present leadership.” She said she wants to focus on dealing with drug issues in the community, discounting taxes for seniors and veterans and attracting businesses to the city that provide good wages and benefits.

“The citizens who I have spoken (with) feel the council does not listen to them,” she said. “Taxes are continually going up, causing the great exodus out of Biddeford. The school system needs to be looked at. Some citizens feel they do not matter once the candidates are in office. For me, everyone matters.”

Seaver, a social worker and two-term school committee member, said she wants to bring a fresh voice and new perspective to city hall. She would like to see the city develop short- and long-term planning goals with benchmarks for success that go beyond budget and election cycles. That process should be done with a community-driven approach, she said.

“I think we have a lot of opportunities ahead of us and we are still wrestling with a lot of challenges. I want to be an advocate for long-term planning and for seeing every opportunity to leverage efficiency,” she said.

Twomey, a former mayor and state representative, said she had no intention of running for council until she became unhappy with Lessard during the sex abuse controversy and what she says is the unfair way the social service budget for the city treats food pantries. She said she is concerned that young people and seniors can no longer afford to live in the city because it is being gentrified.

“Since I left office, people continue to call me and ask for help. I simply cannot turn my back on people who need advice or help,” she said. “I might as well have a vote if I am going to continue to help people.”

Melissa Bednarowski, Biddeford City Council, councilor-at-large raceMELISSA L. BEDNAROWSKI
Address: 11 Free St.
Age: 40
Family: 10-year-old yellow Lab, Sandy
Occupation: Sales with Praxair Surface Technologies Inc.
Political experience/civic involvement: One-term as Ward 4 city councilor; served on the Finance Committee, Personnel Committee and as chairman of the Social Service Allocation Committee; Biddeford Planning Board; campaign volunteer since 1992; co-founder and president of Stand Up 4 Me; Child Advocacy Center Steering Committee for York County; steering committee for Boys and Girls Club of Biddeford Maine; founding member and board of director for the Edmund A. Bednarowski Jr. Charitable Foundation; American Cancer Society Relay of Life Planning Committee.

Marc Lessard, Biddeford City Council, councilor-at-largeMARC LESSARD
Age: 52
Address: 20 Thatcher Brook Lane
Family: Married to Denise; son Joshua and his spouse, Mindy; daughter Amanda
Occupation: Regional manager
Political experience/civic involvement: Five terms on Biddeford City Council, including two terms as council president; Charter Review Committee, chairman; Zoning Board of Appeals; Knights of Columbus

Doris McAuliffe, Biddeford City Council, councilor-at-largeDORIS MCAULIFFE
Age: 65
Address: 14 Lindale Ave.
Family: Married with three daughters
Political experience/civic involvement: No political experience. Fundraiser chairman for Buccaneer Color Guard; Eucharist minister and volunteer at holiday fairs; makes mittens for soup kitchens.

Laura Seaver, Biddeford City Council, councilor-at-largeLAURA SEAVER
Age: 46
Address: 23 Lamothe Ave.
Family: Husband, Randy; sons, Timothy and Matthew
Occupation: Social worker
Political experience/civic involvement: Elected to Biddeford School Committee in 2007, re-elected in 2009; Appointed to Policy Committee, 2011-present.

BIDDEFORD, ME - April 3: Joanne Twomey, a former Democratic state representative and Biddeford mayor Friday, April 3, 2015. (Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer)JOANNE TWOMEY
Age: 69
Address: 246 Elm St.
Family: Married to John Twomey for 34 years before he died of cancer
Occupation: Retired
Political experience/civic involvement: Biddeford City Council, six years; state representative for eight years; served on the Legislature’s State and Local, Natural Resources and Agricultural committees; chairman of Engrossed Bills; Biddeford mayor, four years; Right to Read volunteer at Kennedy School; equipment manager for Biddeford Peewee Football; elected vice-president of peewee football league; founder of Stop Incineration Now.

WARD 1

Councilor Michael Swanton, who has served two terms, is facing a challenge from political newcomer Kathleen Russell.

Swanton, a 63-year-old plumber, said he wants to finish what he started on the council, including addressing the city’s need to invest in its infrastructure. If returned to office, he wants to focus on getting rid of excess city property. He also questions how the city staff has handled the former MERC site.

“The city manager and economic development team want to keep the old MERC site under their wing until they have a complete study done as to what the best way to market it is. I hate that plan,” he said. “I was told by the former city manager that the 8.5-acre MERC site was the last remaining vacant lot in a downtown, on a river, with Amtrak and turnpike access, in the Northeast. If it is such a hot property, I would have listed the property with a broker the day we bought it.”

Russell, a 55-year-old business development manager, said she is running because she became angry about increases in property taxes without feeling like she is getting more services. As a councilor, she would shed light on how the city spends money.

“We work hard for the money we send to city hall and we deserve to know our leaders are good stewards of our money,” she said. “We need a council that is laser focused on reducing costs while maintaining services, or cutting out services that have little value compared to the cost. We need to consider taxpayers in every decision made by our city.”

Kathleen Russell, Biddeford City Council, Ward 1KATHLEEN RUSSELL
Age: 55
Address: 2 Ferry Lane
Family: Married to Peter; son, Bradley
Occupation: Business development manager
Political experience/civic involvement: No political experience. President of Pilgrim Place Condominium Association, 1992-1995.

Michael Swanton, Biddeford City Council, Ward 1MICHAEL SWANTON
Age: 63
Address: 110 Old Pool Road
Family: Wife, Susan
Occupation: Plumber
Political experience/civic involvement: Four years on city council; chairman of Capital Project and Operations Committee; member of the Public Safety Committee; Shellfish Commission and Environmental Board member; board member for Heart of Biddeford.

WARD 2

John McCurry Jr., the current council president, is running unopposed to represent Ward 2.

John McCurry won the Ward 2 seat for Biddeford city council.JOHN A. MCCURRY, Jr.
Address: 197 Cleaves St.
Political experience: Current City Council president
Did not submit additional information.

 


WARD 3

Councilor Stephen St. Cyr, who was appointed in March after the previous Ward 3 councilor resigned, is facing a challenge from Richard Rhames, a former councilor who often speaks at meetings.

St. Cyr, an accountant, said he is running for a two-year term after being fortunate to be appointed to the council during a challenging year. St. Cyr, 60, says he wants to help develop a 5-year strategic plan, create a budget that balances the needs of taxpayers, the city and its employees, and work for the continued development of the mills, downtown and other parts of the city.

“I’m always prepared for meetings. I have made the best decisions for and on behalf of the residents of the ward and the city of Biddeford,” he said. “Interestingly, I found myself enjoying knowing what was going on and being consulted.”

Rhames, a 70-year-old farmer who has served two terms as a councilor-at-large, said he is running for office again because “the forces of gentrification will be increasingly unleashed on Biddeford now that the storied ‘public/private’ collaboration that was MERC is done.”

“Even the most tireless of its advocates (sycophants) are now repeatedly forced to admit that the rapid commercial-residential redevelopment/re-purposing of the 30-acre mill complex downtown was conditioned on the incinerator’s removal. Who knew?” he said in an email. “The citizens of Biddeford now collectively own 9 acres of downtown riverfront land. What happens on that land, and to whose benefit; what happens to Biddeford’s farm and forest land – rich in biological diversity and potential food/fiber production for the urban core; what happens to the city’s public school children, more than half of whom live in poverty – these are front and center issues for the next council.”

Rhames said he also in unhappy with the way council “went out of its way to wage war” on city employees during contract negotiations this year.

Richard Rhames, Biddeford City Council, Ward 3RICHARD RHAMES
Age: 70
Address: 10 West Loop Road
Occupation: Farmer/sometime musician
Political experience/civic involvement: city councilor-at-large, 1999-2001 and 2011-13; served on various municipal committees (cable, policy, sold waste, middle school building committee); longtime former chairman of Biddeford Democratic City Committee; president of Saco Valley Land Trust; longtime advocate for democratic media; produce of public affairs public access video programming (Covert Plot Productions)

Stephen St. Cyr, Biddeford City Council, Ward 3STEPHEN P. ST. CYR
Age: 60
Address: 17 Sky Oaks Drive
Occupation: Accountant/manager/consultant
Family: Married for 38 years with four children and two grandchildren
Political experience/civic involvement: Current Ward 3 councilor; active member of Good Shepherd Parish and its men’s groups; Biddeford Saco Chamber of Commerce board member; Heart of Biddeford’s Main Street Encore Committee.

WARD 4

Robert Quattrone Jr., who is finishing his first term on the council, is running against Terry Belanger.

Quattrone, a 43-year-old father of two, serves on the city’s solid waste, social services, public safety and capital projects committees. He said he wants to continue his job on the council because he loves giving his time to residents and hearing both concerns and ideas to make the city a great place to live. If re-elected, Quattrone wants to make sure the city works with residents to minimize budget increases. He said that could include non-traditional methods for Biddeford, such as zero-based budgeting or biennial budgets.

He also wants to encourage continued economic growth in the city.

“Biddeford has $77 million in new projects downtown and multi-million projects taking place in the business parks,” Quattrone said. “I find it exciting to think of Biddeford in the not-so-distant future. New development will continue to lower the tax burden on citizens.

Belanger did not respond to multiple requests for information about his campaign.

Robert Quattrone Jr., Biddeford City Council, Ward 4ROBERT QUATTRONE JR.
Age: 43
Address: 7 Vincent Ave.
Occupation: power plant/control room operator
Family: Wife, Jessica; two sons, ages 3 and 5
Political experience/civic involvement: Current city councilor, serving on Solid Waste, Social Services, Public Safety and Capital Projects committees; volunteer for La Kermesse festival

TERRY R. BELANGER
Address: 175 Graham St.
Did not submit additional information.

WARD 5

Councilor Bob Mills, who has represented the downtown since 2007, faces challenges from four residents: former city councilor Perry Aberle, first-time candidate Nathan Bean, past candidate Carol Boisjoly and Milton Truman, who was a Saco city councilor in the 1990s.

Karl Reed Jr. is also listed as a candidate, but announced in September that he is not running for office. It was too late to remove his name from the ballot.

Aberle, a former one-term councilor who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2013, did not respond to multiple requests for information.

Mills, a 50-year-old merchandiser, said he wants to continue his work on the council because “we have begun to turn our downtown and city around.” He said he has met personally with developers to discuss projects so he can better understand them and assess how they will fit in with the city. If elected, Mills said he wants to do more to combat the city’s heroin problem.

“Many of our young people have died in our great city from overdoses recently and we need to be proactive by working with our police and fire departments to help those that want to stop using and abusing drugs,” he said. “I as a councilor will seek additional funding from the city, state and federal governments to help combat this issue.” Bean, 44, is a teacher who has not previously sought elected office, but studied government extensively in college and interned with Sen. George Mitchell. As a councilor, he said, he wants to focus on education, downtown development, trustworthy and effective government, and fiscal responsibility and long-term planning.

“I have the vision and proven leadership ability to help move Biddeford forward as we make crucial decisions for the future of our city,” he said. “Together, we can create a thriving, vibrant downtown that serves as an anchor for the city. By building up on the work that has been done by numerous members of our community over the past decade, we can build a beautiful, modern city that benefits all citizens and attracts businesses and visitors from around the world.”

Boisjoly, 59, is a nurse who is currently on disability and has run unsuccessfully for the Ward 5 seat in the past. She said she is running for City Council because being involved in local politics is necessary to improve the city. When it comes to economic development, Boisjoly said she thinks the council needs to be in touch with what “the people of the community really need and not what will help 30 years from now.” She added there is no need for a parking garage in the mill district.

“I know if I get elected I can help the people of my ward,” she said.

Truman, 62 and semi-retired, said he wants to get involved in city government because he now has the time and energy to give back to his hometown. He said he would like to focus on strong city management with fiscal responsibility, encouraging non-retail businesses to move into the upper floors of downtown buildings and moving in the right direction to address heroin use and addiction.

“I desire to take a commonsense approach to the budget but I have no plans to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “I believe my past experience, my ability to work well with others and my desire to make Ward 5 and my city a better place to live make me a good candidate.”

PERRY V. ABERLE
Address: 239 Elm St.
Political experience: Former city councilor
Did not submit additional information.

Nathan Bean, Biddeford City Council, Ward 5NATHAN BEAN
Address: 39 Union St.
Age: 44
Occupation: Teacher
Family: Married with two sons, ages 7 and 5
Political experience/civic involvement: Has not held elected office, but studied government extensively at Johns Hopkins University; interned for Sen. George Mitchell and a Baltimore city councilor; active in leadership roles in RSU 21; high school soccer coach; volunteer coach in Biddeford.

Carol Boisjoly, Biddeford City Council, Ward 5CAROL BOISJOLY
Address: 8 Birch St.
Age: 59
Occupation: LPN on disability
Family: Widowed; daughter, Megan
Political experience/civic involvement: No political experience. Daughters of Isabella, Saco; 50 Plus Club, Biddeford.

Bob Mills, Biddeford City Council, Ward 5BOBBY “BOB” MILLS
Address: 30 Green St.
Age: 50
Occupation: Merchandiser
Family: Married to Heather; sons, Trenton, 13, and Cooper, 6
Political experience/civic involvement: City councilor, 2007-present; policy committee chairman, 2009-present; member of Tri City Transit Committee, 2011-present.

Milton Truman, Biddeford City Council, Ward 5MILTON TRUMAN
Address: 28 Birch St.
Age: 62
Occupation: Guest services at Hidden Pond
Family: Wife Nancy; son Mikel; daughter Katie; grandson Kaden
Political experience/civic involvement: Saco City Council, 1990s; Maine Travel Commission, 1980s; Christmas Seal Award from Maine Lung Association, 1980s.

WARD 6

Former city councilor Richard “Rick” Laverriere and Debra Lauzon, a political newcomer, are squaring off to represent Ward 6.

Lauzon, the mother of Matt Lauzon, has never held public office, but was a constant presence at council meetings this year. A longtime volunteer in the community, she said she wants to make sure the future of the city is as bright as it can be. She said she would like to see the new council set goals within 30 days of taking office, getting taxes under control and bringing excellence back to the schools.

“After attending nearly every City Council meeting this year, I realized we need to get back to basics across the board,” Lauzon, 54, said. “I believe I can take the passion and experience that I’ve always applied to leadership roles volunteering at various organizations and apply it to being a strong councilor that always keeps the best interest of my constituents as the priority.”

Laverriere, 59, served eight years on the council, including two as council president. He said he is seeking to return to the board because he believes he accomplished many things during his previous four terms and wants to again serve residents of Ward 6. As a councilor, he would focus on taxes, finding ways to streamline operations within the city and on economic development.

“I believe the City Council plays a very large role in economic development,” he said. “Economic development doesn’t just happen, there are many parts that surround the projects and development, and I believe the City Council should have the final say on any large projects.”

Debra Lauzon, Biddeford City Council, Ward 6DEBRA ‘DEBBIE’ LAUZON
Address: 5 Southview Drive
Age: 54
Family: Widow with three sons
Political experience/civic involvement: No political experience. Longtime volunteer with West Biddeford Little League, Biddeford Senior League, Biddeford Youth Football, Biddeford Athletic Association, St. Joseph’s PFTA, St. James Seahawk Boosters, BHS Project Sunrise, Another Chance Animal Rescue and Lucky Pups. Volunteers every Saturday to do community clean-ups.

Richard Laverriere, Biddeford City Council, Ward 6RICHARD ‘RICK’ LAVERRIERE
Address: 371 South St.
Age: 59
Occupation: Retired
Family: Rachel, wife of 39 years; daughters Shari Smith and Lori Laverriere; grandson Liam, 4, and granddaughter Londyn, 10 months.
Political experience/civic involvement: City councilor for eight years, including two years as council president; current chairman of the Biddeford Airport Committee; Fire Commission member; Biddeford Athletic Association, 10 years; Project Sunrise; cable TV producer; numerous city committees.

WARD 7

In Ward 7, current councilor Michael Ready is running against Bernard “Ben” Neveux, who served on the city’s Charter Review Commission in 2012.

Ready, a councilor from 2005-07 and 2012-present, said he wants to help continue the progress that has been made in the city in the past four years. He says the city has “turned the corner” on economic development and can continue that progress with the careful planning and implementation of the former MERC site on Lincoln Street.

“The key issue for all communities going forward is really fiscal sustainability,” said Ready, 62. “We need to look at the services that we provide and ensure that we can continue to provide them with the same high standards. I believe that this can best be done by partnering with surrounding communities.”

Neveux, 52, is a Biddeford native who returned to the city six years ago after spending 21 years in the Air Force. If elected, he said, he would like to focus on economic growth and education, which he says form a natural synergy. He is a strong advocate of ensuring students are prepared for their future and that the local workforce is not neglected.

“I will advocate for stronger synergy with the Chamber of Commerce, economic development, UNE and the business community to study ways to create for opportunities for sustainable growth,” he said. “I believe that together, like past generations of our hardworking predecessors, we can build a stable, educated and trained workforce for our future.”

Bernard Neveux, Biddeford City Council, Ward 7BERNARD ‘BEN’ NEVEUX
Address: 10 Kennedy Drive
Age: 52
Occupation: Retired from U.S. Air Force; currently a labor program specialist for the Maine Department of Labor
Family: Married to Judi Neveux with adult children and stepchildren, one grandchild and two grandchildren expected in 2016
Political experience/civic involvement: Served on Biddeford Charter Review Commission in 2012; appointed to Sold Waste Management Commission (since 2011) and Capital Projects/Operations Committee (since 2012). Assisted with implementation of zero-sort recycling in Biddeford; community and campaign volunteer.

MICHAEL “MIKE” READY
Address: 6 Kennedy Drive
Age: 62
Occupation: Retired retail management; currently volunteers with non-profit agency providing representative payee services
Family: Wife, Elaine; three grown sons and four grandchildren
Political experience/civic involvement: Biddeford School Committee, 1999-2005; City Council, 2005-2007 and 2012-present; served on Policy, Finance, Personnel, Recreation, Public Access and Solid Waste committees/commissions and the Biddeford Housing Authority; St. Joseph Parish’s finance committee, parish council and St. James School Committee; co-chairman of St. Joseph’s Parish Fair for four years.

 

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