Two long-time Sanford city councilors hope to keep their seats for three years, but they are being challenged by two political newcomers.

Incumbents Maura Herlihy and Joseph Hanslip have both served several terms on the City Council, but Nicholas Taylor and Jonathan Martell, who have not held elected office, want to bring fresh perspectives as the city responds to the pandemic and tries to attract businesses.

Herlihy, 51, has served two stints on the council, first from 2004 to 2009, then again starting in 2012. A lifelong Sanford resident whose parents still live in town, she works in property management of family-owned real estate.

Maura Herlihy

During her time on the council, Herlihy has served on a number city committees, including the economic development, budget and contract negotiation committees. She has volunteered with Sanford Mainers, Sanford Downtown Legacy, Great Works Foundation and Trafton Senior Center.

“I have and always will be passionate about Sanford. I love so much of this community and the people here,” she said.

Herlihy said she is seeking a sixth term because she wants to continue the work the council has done to set the city up for a “bright future for economic development.” She said the airport is growing and there are more solar projects coming to the city.

“My experience on the council can help bring a lot of that to fruition,” she said.

Herlihy said the city needs to do more to market itself outside of Sanford. She also supports the work Sanford has done to bring broadband to the city and would like to see it extended to every household.

“I love the idea and I’m passionate about it,” she said.

Herlihy also supports projects that will provide safe, new housing to people already living in Sanford and attract more people to the city.

She said the past few months during the pandemic have been the hardest she’s experienced on the council. As the number of cases in Sanford went up and multiple outbreaks were reported, the council passed a mask mandate and temporarily closed parks and playgrounds.

While she supported both measures for safety reasons, they were not always easy decisions to make, Herlihy said.

“Closing the parks and playgrounds was one of the hardest decisions to make because I know what they mean to families and children,” she said.

Hanslip, who retired as a police officer after a line-of-duty injury, has served on the council since 2005. He served as chairman for two years and has been deputy mayor. He previously served as a county commissioner and has volunteered with groups that address poverty and homelessness.

Joseph Hanslip

Hanslip’s chief concerns as a councilor include economic development, keeping the tax rate stable, maintaining a high level of services to residents of Sanford and Springvale, and keeping up with repairs and improvements to the city’s infrastructure.

A “people person” who enjoys helping constituents get problems addressed and work through red tape, Hanslip says he is particularly proud of his work with local residents and ATV users to ease tensions and find common ground on the use of local trails.

“I love Sanford and I really enjoy municipal government,” he said. “It’s been a fortunate time to be associated with it because we’ve had a lot of good things happen.”

Hanslip, 59, said he and the council have worked hard to improve and maintain infrastructure and respond to residents’ needs. Recent successes include broadband installation, new solar arrays, the new high school, upgrades at the airport and attracting businesses.

“The airport is becoming more of an economic engine each day and we want to keep it going in that direction,” he said.

The single most important issue facing the council and the city is COVID-19, Hanslip said. The council needs to be innovative in how it responds and prepares for recovery. He supports the council’s decision to address mask compliance and limit activities in parks when Sanford became a hotspot.

“They’re not necessarily all popular decisions, but popularity and politics takes a back seat to people being safe,” he said. “Some of the stuff has been unpopular but it’s all been absolutely the right thing to do.”

Taylor, 41, grew up in Ohio and came to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard during his 5-year career in the Navy. After leaving the Navy, he went back to Ohio, but realized he preferred New England and bought a house in Sanford in 2004. He has worked at the shipyard for 16 years, holding a management position for the past decade.

Nicholas Taylor

Taylor, who has never run for political office, has been active in the past few years with the Sanford Maine ATV Club, serving as both president and vice president. He has worked with current city councilors and the city manager on issues with the multi-use trail.

His work with the club allowed Taylor to meet business owners and other residents, connections he says led to his desire to serve on the council.

“In talking to them, I’ve noticed a lot of unrest,” he said. “A lot of people have a lot of good thoughts on the future of Sanford. I don’t know if the city isn’t hearing them or doesn’t see them as beneficial, but some of the ideas I’m hearing that the council is not acting on are great ideas to move the city forward.”

In recent years, the city has made good progress building infrastructure to support economic growth with broadband, the airport and new schools, Taylor said. But more is needed to bring businesses to the city and shed a positive light on it.

“Now they need to take the next step and find out why businesses are leaving Sanford instead of coming to Sanford,” Taylor said. “Now that we’ve got the infrastructure, there’s still a mentality that the town and town office are difficult. It’s too much of a headache to bring a business to the Sanford area. I want to better understand what those issues are, figure out what the hassles are and if there’s changes to be made.”

Jonathan Martell, an electrical engineer who grew up in Sanford, is a member of the Sanford GOP, head of the Southern Maine chapter of Gun Owners of Maine and legislative committee chairman at the Sanford Springvale Fish and Game Club. He is making his first run for public office because of “the corruption and waste currently in my home city of Sanford.”

Jonathan Martell

“I grew up here, have family here, and have a vested interest in seeing the city grow and prosper,” he said. “I can either complain about the problems or be part of the solution. I’ve chosen to be part of the solution.”

Martell said the issues he would like to address include reducing wasteful spending, lowering taxes, lowering drug use and crime rates and addressing the city’s homeless situation. He describes himself as a fiscally and socially conservative candidate who has a vested interest in doing what is right for the city.

Martell believes the city’s response to the coronavirus pandemic amounts to overreaching.

“I feel that the response has been one of overreach due to a perceived need to ‘do something’ whether or not the data supports it. This should not have been done as an emergency edict in one quick meeting with no input from those affected,” he said. “People should have the real verified number of cases, locations as possible, as well as useful information on slowing or stopping the spread. There is so much disinformation out there from politicized sources that it spreads fear and rumors.”

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