KENNEBUNK – Eight candidates, including two incumbents, are running to fill three, three-year terms on the select board in the June 8 election. Absentee voting is available.

Candidates are incumbent Wayne Berry, John Costin, Anthony Michaud, Kortney Nedeau, Gwen Page, Lisa Joy Pratt, Kyle Roberts and incumbent Shiloh Schulte.

• Berry was raised locally, began his education in a two-room schoolhouse in Lower Village, graduated from KHS and went on to Maine colleges. Married, he is a semi-retired builder, and has served on committees including the Zoning Board of Appeals, Board of Assessment Review, Budget Board,  the Tax Study Committee, as a selectman and was a founding member of the Lower Village Committee.

Wayne Berry Courtesy Photo

He said a current issue is continuing to provide services with limited staffing and funding, while planning for the town’s growth as it is occurring. He pointed out Kennebunk has a capital plan, that facilities and personnel studies are anticipated, and the new Comprehensive Plan will help guide the next century of the town.

When asked as an incumbent what he believed could have been handled differently, he said the board looks to make decisions based on information available at the time. “We have been remiss in the past about mentoring and paying attention to our town committees who contribute tremendously to the vitality of our community,” said Berry, citing skate park discussions and providing continuity in the comprehensive planning process.

He noted the select board meets nearly 50 times a year; and while the online meeting format in place has cut down on travel time, it has made the quantity and length of meetings more substantive. He pointed out there are numerous subcommittees, and members also act as liaison to other committees, hold outreach sessions and more.

“I am confident and qualified in my abilities and experience to guide the town forward,” Berry said.

• John Costin owns a specialized woodworking company, housed in a 100-year-old Sanford mill he and his wife are renovating. He is vice chair of the Kennebunk Budget Committee, chaired the 2007 charter commission, served on other municipal boards and is a steering committee member of the Maine Small Business Association.

John Costin Courtesy Photo

He said the most immediate issue facing the select board is getting a handle on capital spending, especially building projects.

” We need to replace our Public Services building on Sea Road but it is clear that the cost is going too far exceed original estimates and could easily reach $10 million or more,” said Costin. He said there have been suggestions for a new police complex, and more. “The town cannot take on this much new debt without increasing taxes significantly,” he said. “I believe we need to improve our long-term capital budgeting and set priorities based on our ability to pay for them.”

He said the board has “a long way to go to implement current best practices for transparency, accountability and community engagement.” He said policies should be reviewed for clarity and followed consistently, and work needs to be done to increase community engagement when formulating policy and budgets.

He said the current board has done well in its response to COVID-19.

“I believe that I have a good understanding of the workings of town government as well as a fresh perspective on how it can best serve residents of Kennebunk and I want to contribute to making sure that we have the good town government we deserve,” said Costin.

• Anthony Michaud is an elementary school music teacher in RSU 21 and previously served 12 years on the Biddeford School Committee.

Anthony Michaud Courtesy Photo

“Although I have vast knowledge and experience in the education field, both as a teacher and a school committee member, I am interested in learning more about non-school-related issues and how to best support them,” he said in a statement. “I am not seeking office with a specific agenda. Rather, I believe my role as an elected official is to listen to all topics and concerned parties and make informed decisions for betterment and growth of our town. I am running for office to serve and support our community. I want to be a part of a team committed to strengthening our village by the sea, and making it a place where the children of Kennebunk are proud to live, work, and raise their future families.”

• Kortney Nedeau is a sales person in the footwear industry and recently launched a concierge business. She is married, has substituted in local schools, and was head coach for the varsity softball team. Nedeau volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and COS.

Kortney Nedeau Courtesy Photo

She said the most pressing immediate issue facing Kennebunk is stagnancy. “So much happening, but it feels like nothing is happening,” Nedeau said. “Budget control is always going to come first to the majority of taxpayers. We need to prioritize needs over wants, and ensure that we continue to build a strong diverse community in a town that continues to attract so many people seasonally and year-round. We need to offer a board that welcomes ideas from across all of the community. We can’t just hear citizens talking, we must listen and be solutions oriented, and proactive when planning; rather than reactive and stagnant. ”

She said the town has to embrace growth and plan to support economic and social development, but ensure the quaint, small town coastal community people want is preserved.

Nedeau, who sought but was not appointed to the RSU 21 board to fill a vacancy in January, said the select board made a good decision in the face of a difficult process. “Personally, this ignited something in me to join the select board rather than the school board and hopefully I’ll now be given the opportunity to show that even if we are a different age, race, religion or sex – we can work together and serve our community,” Nedeau said. “I’ll strive to never over promise and under deliver. I’m an honest, transparent, say it straight if you’re going to say it, person – and I believe there is no place for big politics in small town government.”

• Gwen Page was raised in Kennebunkport and returned to the area in 2008 after a career in administration following the Peace Corps and graduate school. She is semi-retired.

Gwen Page Courtesy Photo

She said an important issue will be zoning that retains the character of Kennebunk. An eventual long-term, costly issue will be what to do along Beach Avenue if sea level continues to rise, she said.

“Strict zoning would preserve Kennebunk as a place where residents want to live, raise families, and remain, and where their children want to stay or return,” she said. “I think we need to ensure that residents are OK with new developments and attempt to have new building conform to the character and spirit of the town.”

She said future federal funding may be more difficult to obtain for sea wall repairs along Beach Avenue – an important area for tourism that impacts the local economy – and so will require long-term thinking and budgeting.

Page said the select board should have opted for free beach passes for people who live in town. “Residents know the area and the beaches and are likely to be better stewards – noticing and caring about what happens there,” she said.

Page said her approach if elected would be “down-to-earth and academic, meaning that I would research an issue before making a decision, gathering input, ideas, and knowledge from residents as part of the decision-making process.”

• Lisa Joy Pratt volunteers as a member of the Kennebunk Inclusive Playground Committee, the Energy Efficiency Committee, and at the York County COVID-19 Vaccination Center in Sanford, is a past PTA board member, and fundraising committee chair and Girls on the Run coach. Married, Pratt is a self-described stay at home parent and previously worked as a lead X-ray technician at a trauma center.

Lisa Joy Pratt Courtesy Photo

The most immediate issue is the Public Services facility upgrade, she said. Part of the upgrade includes a decision whether a transfer station should be included, at an estimated cost of $720,000 in wetland impact fees. She said easy access to a transfer station is important so waste is not disposed of irresponsibly, and that consistency in pricing and cost effectiveness is required.

“I would like to possibly explore a relationship with other towns in York County to see if a county-based transfer station is a possibility,” said Pratt.

Long term, she said growth and a lack of low-cost housing are issues, and said the new Comprehensive Plan should provide zoning and growth guidance.

“We need to attract new residents to maintain and grow our tax base and keep our community vital,” said Pratt. “We need to do this responsibly though, so that long-time residents do not get priced out or feel left out, we have housing for the employees of our local businesses and so we preserve our natural environment.”

She said continued prioritizing a reduction of the town’s carbon footprint with projects like replacing street lights with LED fixtures is necessary.

“As Kennebunk grows, I will be a calm, thoughtful and compassionate fresh voice for individuals, families and older Mainers,” said Pratt.

• Kyle Roberts is a partner in Billy Goat Landscaping, a business he operates with his father. He volunteers as an ice hockey coach at Kennebunk High School, where he graduated in 2007. Married, the University of Maine graduate said he became passionate about leadership in Kennebunk after weathering the pandemic with his family’s business.

Kyle Roberts Courtesy Photo

If elected, he said he hopes to bridge the gap between the select board ad RSU 21 School Board.

“There is great potential for both boards to collaborate on important issues at the town and school level that have been overlooked for far too long,” said Roberts.

He said he wants the select board to address fiscal responsibility when balancing the annual budget.

Whether it be expenditures for new fire equipment or determining the future of the 15 Portland Road property, every item deserves thoughtful evaluation, he said.

As a longtime resident, Roberts said he saw how dilapidated the skate board park had become, and while he said repairs are long overdue, he commended the select board’s decision to make improvements..

He said there is great pride in running a successful business in town and raising a family in the home he grew up in.

“Kennebunk is a unique and vibrant community that deserves leadership familiar with what makes it so special,” he said.

• Shiloh Schulte has been a select board member since 2015, has volunteered as a surveyor fir the Maine Breeding Bird Atlas, and the International Shorebird Survey. He is married and works as a senior shorebird scientist at Manomet, Inc.

Shiloh Schulte Courtesy Photo

“The biggest immediate issue before the board is how to address the need for a new public services facility and the future of the transfer station,” said Schulte. “Long term we have significant challenges with costs associated with climate change, including accelerating seawall and beach erosion and flooding in the coastal zone. These will add to the burden of the significant debt load the town currently carries.”

He noted the board is currently engaged in a process to identify the needs of residents around the transfer station, and plans are proceeding for a new public works facility.

“Town residents and taxpayers will need to engage in this process and ultimately approve or reject the plans we present,” he said. “The challenges presented by sea level rise, increased storm frequency, and the growing climate crisis are much more difficult.”

He noted the board is working with Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission to assess vulnerabilities and resilience, and said Kennebunk “will need to make difficult choices about the long-term future of our coastal infrastructure and focus our effort and resources on a sustainable approach to living in a changing coastal zone.”

Asked what the board could have handled differently, he said divisions over the train station issue resulted in a missed opportunity. “Hopefully we can find a new path to making that a reality,” he said.

Schulte said he initially ran for office out of frustration, feeling the voices of residents weren’t being adequately considered. He said he has tried to make sure that people who speak meetings are respected and heard.

Schulte said the board is engaged in strategic planning, beach pass policy development and long-term planning for the public safety departments.

“I feel I can offer a unique perspective on many of the issues we face on a regular basis,” he said, noting his background as a scientist. “I am excited to welcome new faces to the board and I hope we get a little younger and more diverse as a result of the upcoming election.”

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