GORHAM — Gorham town councilors Suzanne Phillips and Ronald Shepard face a challenger, Christina Paul, in a race for two seats on the seven-member board.

Both terms are for three years and the municipal election is Nov. 3.

Every candidate sees the pandemic as being a potential economic issue in the town. Incumbents Phillips, chairperson, and Shepard, vice chairperson, are council veterans while Paul is making her initial bid for a seat.

Paul

Paul said the issue foremost in “many of our minds” is the COVID-19 pandemic. Although unprecedented, she said, it has exacerbated issues and weaknesses that already exist in the fabric of communities nationwide.

“We have witnessed the consequences of being unprepared for an emergency,” Paul said. “From here, with the experiences
of the past six months, we must move forward together.”

She believes a major issue facing Gorham is a need for a public health committee.

“Many of the challenges our community faces could be met by this committee,” Paul said.

The Town Council on Oct. 6 took action to reactivate the town’s Board of Health.

“I acknowledge there are population growth challenges, never ending taxation debates, infrastructure needs and many more issues that have been debated for years. This year has brought many new challenges to overcome,” Paul said.

Phillips

Phillips says the COVID-19 pandemic is a priority.

“The past several months I, as well as the council, have been planning for the financial impact it may have on our town. It is important to be making informed decisions for the safety and the success of the people and businesses in Gorham,” Phillips said. “Leading the town through the pandemic has been challenging however it has given me a perspective of how the town
and school leaders can truly come together for the community.”

“My experience on the Town Council will help to move our town forward, to finish many things we have started,” she said.

Other issues she cited are attracting and retaining businesses “to offset the burden on taxpayers.”

Phillips said the town’s purchase of land for a new industrial park was a step in the right direction.

“As executive director of the Gorham Business Exchange and working with board members on connecting with local businesses has been helpful in my understanding of the needs of our business community,” she said.

She said updating zoning to meet the comprehensive plan is crucial to the town’s future.

“We are a strong and growing community and we need to manage that growth in a responsible way,” she said.

Shepard

The school district, Shepard said, represents concerns  in the growing community.

“The school facility needs are an issue that will require input from all stakeholders, much out-of-the-box thinking and a willingness of all involved to compromise and reach a workable and affordable solution,” Shepard said.

Shepard is the town’s retired police chief.

Shepard also has his eye on the economical impact of the pandemic on the town.

“If the economy continues to be negatively impacted as a result of the coronavirus, the Town Council will need to be ready to address possible funding cuts from the state. Any action by the council would be dependent on what losses the town would be facing,” Shepard said.

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