WESTBROOK —  Michael Shaughnessy believes that the creativity and fresh input he would bring to the mayor’s office would take Westbrook up to the next level.

Shaughnessy, a University of Southern Maine arts professor and president of Friends of the Presumpscot River, is running for mayor against At-large City Councilor Mike Foley, incumbent Mike Sanphy and Phil Spiller Jr. in the Nov. 5 election.

“I will bring a new vision to the city, a vision formed by a diversity of experiences in many places and roles,” Shaughnessy said.

In 2016, Shaughnessy won the nomination at the city Democratic Caucus to run for mayor but lost the election to Sanphy. He decided to run again, he said, because he hopes to bring change that will leave a better world for the voters of tomorrow.

“After the 2016 election, it was like the whole landscape changed for us here, and we need to be much more active as small communities,” Shaughnessy said. “I have three grandchildren and I think, what are we leaving these guys?”

If elected, Shaughnessy hopes to use his platform as mayor to continue making positive changes for sustainability.

“We need to look at old patterns and ask hard questions, we cannot function as we have in a reactive mode,” Shaughnessy said. “We have to ask more of ourselves, businesses and communities, and the mayor has that platform. He can ask to look at solar power. We have vast untapped resources relative to solar that would pay for themselves and aren’t expensive.”

Aside from solar farms and solar panels on homes, Shaughnessy says businesses need to innovate. Kohl’s, for example, does not have solar panels at the Westbrook store but does at other locations, he said.

“We are afraid to innovate, we are afraid to fail. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying. .. I’d rather do that and not try,” he said.

Other measures, such as a direct bike path between Westbrook and other communities, strengthening public transport and looking into versatile housing like co-ops or tiny homes are modern ways to deal with problems of congestion and rising housing costs, Shaughnessy said.

He also wants to create neighborhoods that residents can be proud of.

“Revitalizing neighborhoods creates an organized, safe and joyful community that has a strong presence in City Hall,” Shaughnessy said.

He can pull off these innovations, he says, because of his eclectic work experience, the fact that he has lived in numerous cities around the country in his capacity as an artist and his previous civic service on the Windham Town Council.

“I can bring fresh eyes and possibly bring new ideas to the table,” Shaughnessy said. “I don’t have all of the answers, but I have learned a lot and can work with people to make these changes. … It is important to capitalize on the passions of people, and working with them, collaborating, those are qualities I bring as a candidate.”

Shaughnessy also says he wants help embolden diverse communities, whether that is listening to and working with the LGBTQ community or refugees and immigrants.

“Our greatest asset is each other. … And diverse communities are really what brings in that vibrancy,” Shaughnessy said.

 

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