BRUNSWICK — In the town’s only contested race this election season, Toby McGrath of Water Street and Jim Trusiani of Pleasant Street are running for the Town Council District 6 seat being vacated by Jane Millett.

Meanwhile, Councilor David Watson is unopposed for his District 1 seat, as is Councilor Stephen Walker for District 2.

The Brunswick School Board also has three open seats, for which all candidates are uncontested: incumbents Mandy Merrill for District 1 and Elizabeth Sokoloff for District 6, and newcomer Elizabeth Bisson (who would replace Benjamin Tucker) for District 2.

Jim Trusiani

Trusiani is not a political novice, having served 11 years on the Topsham Board of Selectmen.

“Even though there might have been some rough waters along the way, we got a lot accomplished,” and avoided major tax increases, Trusiani said.

His tenure was, at times, contentious.

In 2009, Trusiani used a Freedom of Information Act request to make fellow Selectman Sandra Consolini provide all town-related documents relating to a variety of issues. He said Consolini ran for office on a platform advocating a transparent form of government, and he expected her to uphold transparency related to correspondence she has had about town business. Consolini, in turn, said Trusiani was on a fishing expedition, and that the lure he was using on the end of his hook was the FOI Act.

Trusiani said Consolini kept referring to emails she had received pertaining to a variety of issues, and he just wanted to see them.

He said he was satisfied with the results. Selectmen at the time had only personal email addresses, whereas Brunswick councilors now have town government addresses through which to conduct business, which “I don’t see … being a problem,” Trusiani said.

“I’m not afraid to ask the tough questions, and dig in to find out if exactly what we’re doing is the right thing,” he said.

Trusiani acknowledges that he has had a few brushes with the law. He was convicted of operating under the influence three times in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in Saco, Topsham and Freeport. He also faced three criminal trespass charges in the 2000s, pleading guilty to two and no contest to one.

Trusiani was also charged with jaywalking in Brunswick in March, and did not sign the ticket, but police chose not to pursue the matter before it could go to court, he said. That happened before he considered running for the council, Trusiani said.

Trusiani said he aims to make the Town Council more fiscally responsible. The new Kate Furbish school on Jordan Avenue, due to open next year, was supposed to be a bond project, but the town took out a six-month loan to pay the contractor, and will not pull the bond until February, “and I think that’s kind of backwards,” Trusiani said.

“Financially, we need to look at how we’re doing business,” he said, adding that Brunswick could face a 9-11% tax increase next year.

Trusiani raised concerns over Brunswick’s attempt to resettle asylum-seekers who came to Maine this summer to escape violence and persecution in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“We’re not really taking care of our elderly and our veterans,” Trusiani said. “We need to prioritize, and we need to have a game plan in Brunswick … I think we’re winging it.”

Toby McGrath

McGrath said he would like Brunswick to find other revenue sources beyond property and automobile excise taxes, including from the state and federal government, “to alleviate the town budget so we’re not so we’re not so reliant on property taxes.”

Brunswick could “put those dollars that we draw down into … roads and bridges, and education, and doing what a town needs to do to serve the folks there as well as possible,” he said.

The town is spending its money appropriately, McGrath said, but he has noticed from his work at the federal and state levels that “everything gets pushed down” to the municipalities. He praised the current Legislature for implementing increased revenue sharing.

“This is a learning curve for me,” McGrath said of town politics. “I think you’ve got to figure out first what we do well, and what we can improve upon.”

McGrath said his career has enabled him to see how government works, and how its various levels can benefit Brunswick.

“There’s 1,324 grants out there right now in federal government; are we applying for them?” he said. “If we’re not applying for (a certain grant), someone else is going to get it.”

In an email he sent to District 6 voters, McGrath related an incident that happened in Massachusetts when he was 17, shortly after he had lost both parents. He and two friends were detained by police after trespassing and littering on town property, but the youths were not charged. Instead, they performed community service, and the experience served to be educational, inspiring McGrath to contribute to a community as his hometown had helped him.

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