Political newcomers Louis “Roo” Dunn and Tim Pratt are competing for the Ward 4 Bath City Council seat. while Mary Ellen Bell is running uncontested for the Ward 2 position.

Pratt, who grew up in Woolwich and moved to Bath with his family in 2016, serves on the city’s community forestry committee and personnel services commission. He said he decided to run for city council because “public service has always interested me and I thought this was a good opportunity to lend my voice to the city government process.”

If elected, Pratt said he’d like to improve the city’s public transportation offerings.

“We need some better transportation in the city,” he said. “Regional transportation is important and I think we could be doing more to help connect Bath to Brunswick and then to Portland.”

Pratt said he’d also like to help the city “grow smart” by attracting families to Bath and providing more affordable housing while being cautious of how the city incentivizes developers to build housing and not raising the cost of housing in Bath, which has already increased across the state.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems like there’s been a real influx of people moving to Maine and to Bath,” said Pratt. “If I were trying to move to Bath now, I probably won’t be able to afford the house I live in now. We need to find ways to attract families with young children in the community, but find a way to make sure it’s not inaccessible to people.”

Dunn too said he’s interested in attracting families to Bath and growing the city’s housing stock with a balance of affordable and market rate homes, all while not raising the city’s tax rate more than necessary, or the cost of housing in the area.

Louis “Roo” Dunn said one of his priorities if elected to Bath city council, will be ensuring residents understand any action city leaders take.

Dunn said he moved to Bath from Philadelphia in 2006 to raise his family in the Regional School Unit 1 school department. He was the former executive director of the Chocolate Church Arts Center until he left the position in 2008. He now serves on the city’s planning board, but said he would leave his position if elected to the city council.

If elected, Dunn said he’s looking forward to learning how councilors supervise and manage city staff.

“The oversight of the professional staff is important, and we have to confirm a new city manager,” said Dunn. “I want to see how that’s progressing.”

Former City Manager Peter Owen retired in late August and Assistant City Manager Marc Meyers has stepped in as interim city manager.

Regardless of what actions the city council or any other part of the local government takes, Dunn said he wants to make the bureaucratic process accessible and understandable for all residents.

“I want to see how ordinances can be understandable,” said Dunn. “I want to help residents understand what’s going on in their government.”

Pratt and Dunn are competing to represent Ward 4, which covers a strip of central Bath between Bedford and Academy streets from the Kennebec River to Wing Farm Parkway. Councilor Raye Leonard, who first joined the city council in 2019 holds the position, now holds the role.

Leonard said she’s not running for re-election because she was offered a job as editor of the Lincoln County News.

“My attention is now focused on those communities,” Leonard wrote in an email to The Times Record. “I no longer have as much time to really focus on the issues of Bath.”

Bell looks to take over Ward 2 seat

Bell is looking to fill the Ward 2 city council position now occupied by longtime Councilor Sean Paulhus, who is not running for re-election.

Though she has never held elected office before, Bell said joining Bath’s city council “is a natural extension of my time as a social studies teacher.”

Though she has never held elected office, Mary Ellen Bell said running for a seat on Bath’s city council feels like ” natural extension of my time as a social studies teacher.” Photo courtesy of Mary Ellen Bell.

Bell worked as a social studies teacher at Wiscasset Middle High School for 32 years before retiring in June 2020.

“I decided that I had a good skill set that I’ve honed over the years in a social studies classroom,” she said. “A lot of people don’t get high school kids, but they’re some of the best teachers. They’ve helped me become a good problem solver and integrative thinker.”

Should she be elected next month, Bell will represent Ward 2, which encompasses much of Bath’s South End neighborhood from Route 1/Leeman Highway south to Pine Street, and from the Kennebec River west to roughly Berrys Mill Road.

Bell said she’d like to help Bath Iron Works and the South End neighborhood work together to solve the longstanding issue of the company’s thousands of shipbuilders not having enough room to park near the shipyard, and parking along residential streets.

She said she’s also interested in addressing the need for more housing in Bath while working to preserve the city’s older, existing housing stock.

Longer term projects she said she’s interested in include exploring how Bath could use the Kennebec River as a sustainable resource, as well as how transportation, especially the Route 1 corridor, has impacted and will impact the city in the future.

“I’ve been concerned over 30 years watching traffic and how that’s impacting our communities,” Bell said. “How do we work that so that we’re not losing the quality of where we live? How do we think sustainably about how we deal with transportation?”

Paulhus did not return requests for comment about why he isn’t running for re-election.

Paulhus was first elected to the city council in 2008 and has held his seat ever since.

In April 2019, Paulhus was elected to the Maine House of Representatives to represent Bath, and was re-elected to the position last year.

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