William Doyle, left, is challenging incumbent Marston Lovell to be mayor of Saco. Courtesy photos

SACO — Incumbent Mayor Marston Lovell is being challenged by Councilor William Doyle for a four-year mayoral term in the Nov. 5 election in Saco.

While the candidates have some differences, they are both concerned about erosion in the Saco Bay area, especially along the city’s coastal Camp Ellis neighborhood.

Lovell, 73, said he wants to forge a new deal with Saco’s neighbors to resolve erosion issues in the entire Saco Bay area. A resolution unanimously approved by the Saco City Council a week ago would do that, he said. The resolution, which will be presented to Scarborough, Old Orchard Beach and Biddeford for their sign-on, asks Gov. Janet Mills, “to seek sufficient federal legislation to require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to remedy the problems of sand erosion and sand accretion along Saco Bay at no cost to any municipality or the State of Maine.”

Lovell said the current U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan covers only a half-mile of beach around Camp Ellis, and “ignores other parts of the beach.”

He said the beaches are a major tourist area. “An act of Congress needs to be passed and signed by the president,” said Lovell. “If Congress orders (the Corps of Engineers) to do it, they will.”

Doyle, 39, is on board with the resolution, but he also believes it is time to “unshelve” the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to address Camp Ellis and get movement on that — without Saco being on the hook financially for maintenance and repairs. Doyle said he’d revisit a plan for a regional dredge program. He said dredging won’t solve the problem but would help.

“We need to move forward and have some action,” said Doyle.

Doyle is winding down his second term as the Ward 3 councilor. He has degrees in criminal justice and legal studies and is the regional director for the National Correctional Employees Union, representing correctional workers in Maine and New Hampshire.

Lovell served six years as a Saco city councilor and three years as a York County commissioner. He has degrees in arts and science and business and economics and served in the U.S. Navy Reserves, the National Guard and was assigned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As a civilian, he worked in the medical field and in accounting and later owned a business writing computer software and advising businesses on computer hardware.

“Saco is undergoing unprecedented growth and there is a lot of pressure on city infrastructure — more want to be on sewer and water lines, and there are more cars on city streets and highways and I am concerned with dealing with that,” said Lovell,

He said there are traffic issues associated with growth and that those issues are in the hands of the Maine DOT and Maine Turnpike Authority.

In a September Journal Tribune story by Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf, Lovell said his current initiatives include continued improvement in relations between the City Council and School Board through monthly meetings, and continued promotion of communication and interaction with citizens through open office hours and other meetings. He plans to host workshops at the beginning of the next term to provide the council with orientation on Roberts Rules of Order, the City Charter, the Comprehensive Plan, ethical behavior, and council procedures and order of business.

As to the ongoing situation involving Saco’s Pre-K classes and the former location approved by the Saco School Board in an industrial park, Lovell said he believes the appeals process is coming to an end and that the school board may seek summary judgment on the matter in court.

Lovell is a non-voting member of the Saco School Board and its chair since July 1. He said the scenario involving the Pre-K led him to realize the city needed to work more closely with the school board and so began monthly meetings with the city administrator, school superintendent and the school board chair. He said the meetings have been beneficial.

Lovell said he favors open government and in the coming year he would like to see Planning Board and other committee meetings available to the public through public access and on the internet. Currently City Council meetings are the only meetings regularly available through those sources.

Lovell holds office hours for the public weekly on Wednesdays from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

“Anyone who wants to can come in and speak,” said Lovell. “Some councilors have and people from the neighborhoods have.”

Doyle is finishing his second term as a councilor.

“My goal is for smart growth, looking long term rather than band-aids,” said Doyle. “Smart growth is better than sprawl.”

“As mayor I want to vigorously steward Saco’s growth by fostering new opportunities for economic diversity — more public private partnerships to bring new business to the community, and to transition Saco from a bedroom community to a destination community,” Doyle said.

The Route 1 corridor could be a location for businesses like banking and insurance companies, which would bring good jobs to the city, he said.

As to the Pre-K location issues, Doyle said he wonders if the school board did its due diligence in going forward with the lease of the industrial park property. He pointed out the mayor sits as a non-voting member of the school board — though he acknowledged that Lovell didn’t begin chairing the meetings until July, when an approved charter change went into effect. The school board approved the lease in May.

Doyle said he favors taping more municipal meetings. He said he would hold office hours in the communities, at times when people who work during the day can attend.

Doyle said the city has seen significant residential growth, and that residents say they want more shops and restaurants downtown. He noted Biddeford’s success in attracting those types of businesses, and that Saco isn’t seeing the same resurgence in its city core.

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

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