Mayor Don Pilon faces challenges from a former mayor and a former city councilor as he seeks a second term in Saco.

Former Mayor Roland “Ron” Michaud and Bette Brunswick, who served one term on the City Council, are looking to unseat Pilon on Nov. 3.

Pilon, a 64-year-old real estate broker, served four terms in the state Legislature before becoming Saco’s mayor two years ago. He is seeking a second term leading the city of 19,000 to “continue the program and advances I’ve made in my first term.” In particular, Pilon said he wants to continue to lead the city as Mill Building 4 on York Hill is redeveloped into 140 market rate apartments.

“It’s taken a year and a half to get it approved,” he said of the project. “It is the gateway from Biddeford into Saco. This will be a showpiece for Saco and it’s imperative that this building be repurposed.”

Pilon said he would use a second term to continue focusing on controlling property taxes and bringing natural gas to more areas of the city. During his tenure, he said he was able to get the city “back on track” after an 18 percent tax increase under the previous administration.

Pilon said he also wants to continue working closely with the city of Biddeford to find ways to save money.

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Brunswick, 53, who served most of one term on the council before stepping down this summer because she moved out of her ward, became involved in city government after the 18 percent tax hike in 2012. As a member of Saco Citizens for Sensible Government, she met with officials but said she ran into resistance while brainstorming recommendations for how to do things better. As mayor, Brunswick said she would focus on “making sure our citizens are given the tools to help Saco thrive and be vital.” “This current mayor does not seem to have an understanding of strategic planning and process that involves many people in the community, the council and business leaders,” she said. “Those are things I have experience with and have been effective with on other boards.”

Brunswick said a major concern among residents continues to be property taxes, which she says can be addressed partially through continued focus on economic development, particularly downtown.

Michaud, 68, is looking to return to elected office after previously serving two terms as mayor, 14 years on the City Council, eight years on the Planning Board and three yeas on the School Board. He said he had no intention of getting back into politics until he began to feel “more and more that things weren’t going as I had hoped they would go.” He was particularly concerned about tension between Pilon and the City Council over the rehiring of a previous city administrator and the mayor’s push for a trolley to Camp Ellis. He believes Pilon’s approach to the mayoral position has diminished people’s trust in local government.

“There are two things a public candidate should do: put forward your best effort and be honest with the public. I”m not sure either of those have been met,” he said. “We need to be working together, not against each other.”

Michaud said he would like to return to City Hall with his inclusive leadership style and focus on taxes and economic development. More work needs to be done to support businesses, especially in the downtown area, he said.

“(The downtown) is a vibrant part of our community and helps us identify who we are. I think we’ve been sliding back in the last couple of years,” he said.

Michaud said he would like to improve fiber access as is being done in Sanford, where the city is creating the largest broadband network in the state. Other important issues will be addressing traffic in the Route 112 corridor, bringing more transparency to City Hall and deciding how to best replace the Young School, he said.

Voting will run from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Saco Community Center on Franklin Street.


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