Copeland

SACO — Lynn Copeland is seeking her second term as a Saco city councilor for Ward 4 and is being challenged in the race by Jack Cianchette for the three-year term.

Copeland, 58, a legal assistant at a Portland law firm, said she wants to keep Saco’s mil rate down by bringing business to the city’s industrial parks, see a new teen center get up and running, expand Saco’s “green belt” and do more to protect the city’s natural resources.

Cianchette, 20, is a student, taking classes at Virginia’s Regent University remotely to finish his degree in business and leadership. He said he is interested in seeing a resolution to the erosion issues in Saco Bay as well as advocate for affordable housing so young people who want to work and live in Saco can do so. This is his first bid for elected office.

Cianchette

Copeland said she first decided to run for office when watching City Council meetings on television a few years ago.

“When I looked at the seven men up there, I realized I needed to run,” she said.

Now that her two-year term is winding down, Copeland wants to continue her work with the city.

She pointed out that Saco has an economic development department tasked with attracting businesses, and that the mayoral position is as an “ambassador” for the city.

Saco has to seek out businesses strategically and pursue “what works for us,” Copeland said.

“We want to pick,” she said, “We want to attract businesses that are a good fit.”

She said she is looking for businesses that will increase revenue so taxes will remain reasonable for residents.

Copeland, a therapeutic foster parent, pointed out that the city just purchased the former Methodist church for a teen center.

“Kids at the middle school (age) tend to flounder, and don’t have a place to call their own,” said Copeland, the council’s liaison with the Parks and Recreation Department. “This is going to be theirs, with parameters,” she said of the teen center.

The Wardwell, a senior residence, is nearby, she said, and added she hopes the proximity will promote relationships between senior citizens and youth that will benefit both populations.

“We want Saco to be a good place to live, work and play, and if we want to bring business, we need (Saco) to be attractive to business owners and employees and show we value our kids,” she said.

The city’s natural resources are another of Copeland’s concerns. She said she’d like to see an ordinance that addresses tree cutting and she would like to see the expansion of a “green belt” linking existing trails like the Eastern Trail, Saco Bay trail and others – from the ocean to the Saco Heath.

“Wildlife will thrive in that type of environment,” said Copeland. “We need to focus on fantastic open spaces and conservation.”

Soon, she said, the city parks and natural spaces will have signs and she looks forward to a phone “app” that will guide residents and visitors to them. As well, she said the city is encouraging developing neighborhoods to install trails that can connect to the existing trail system.

Copeland said she drives a hybrid car, thinks about energy consumption, and “can’t stand waste.”

She is an advocate for her constituents, she said.

Married, Copeland has two adult children.

Cianchette took an accelerated path at Regent University, living in Virginia for two years and then returning to Maine to study remotely, with just a handful of courses left to complete to obtain his degree.

His experience includes working at the Boards and Commissions office at the Secretary of State Office during the LePage administration and providing political commentary on a radio program that aired on WLOB.

Saco has lost $20 million in property tax revenue since 1960 due to erosion, Cianchette said, and added that the jetty at Camp Ellis has been an issue since it was constructed in 1892.

He estimated that three miles of beach in Saco Bay is in jeopardy.

“If we don’t act on the jetty there won’t be three miles of beaches,” said Cianchette. He said the erosion would ultimately affect the entire region and the issue is bigger than just the city of Saco.

He pointed out that Saco is engaging municipal neighbors like Scarborough, Old Orchard Beach, and Biddeford to encourage Governor Janet Mills to advocate for federal funding for the entire Saco Bay.

Erosion issues cost Saco $300,000 annually, Cianchette estimated, a figure he called an “expensive band-aid.”

Cianchette, who is single, said he’d like to see the city encourage housing development aimed at young working people, at a price they can afford – in the $700 to $800 a month range – so they can move to Saco, work, live and be able to pay student loans.

If elected, he said, he’d promote public transit, would like to see a hotel developed in a vacant mill at Saco Island and on the energy front, would like to see more electric buses to reduce Saco’s carbon footprint.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or twells @mainelymediallc.com.

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