Staffing, diversity resolve among topics at candidates' forum

Carroll, Magjik meet residents in bid for Rockland council seat

By Stephen Betts | May 16, 2017
Amelia Magjik and Stephen Carroll

Rockland — Stephen Carroll and Amelia Magjik were in agreement on some issues, but offered different views on other topics, such as city staffing and whether Rockland needed a resolve to support diversity in the community.

The two candidates for a single vacant seat on the Rockland City Council answered questions Monday night, May 15, at City Hall from about 30 people who turned out for the annual candidates' forum.

The election is June 13, with the polls open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Absentee ballots for the council race are already available at City Hall.

Carroll said taxes are the number-one thing on everybody's mind in Rockland. He pointed out that there will soon be two vacancies in the police department, with a third possible, and said maybe the city should consider not filling those posts to save money.

He also questioned why the city filled its assistant code enforcement officer position when it became vacant last year. And he pointed out the assessor's post became vacant last year and said that could offer more savings.

Magjik said she would not support cutting those positions.

"I don't think it's economic to cut your police force," Magjik said. "I love our police and firefighters and really love the people who plow the roads, We're very fortunate to have such wonderful public services."

Carroll said the city should also focus on increasing revenues. He said the city does not get nearly enough money from its harbor.

He said the city also needs to encourage businesses to move into Rockland, including retail.

Magjik agreed the city needs to expand its tax base to generate more revenues.

Carroll said the city needs to do a lot of work to reduce costs, saying that municipal employees receive more money than the average Rockland resident, and also that public employees have a much better benefit package. He said most people who live and work in Rockland don't have health insurance.

The two candidates also diverged on the issue of whether the City Council should have adopted a resolve to support diversity. The council voted 3-1 to adopt the resolve at its March 13 meeting.

Carroll said he has lived in Rockland his whole life and has never experienced any discrimination as put forth by supporters of the resolve.

"Rockland has been a rough-and-tumble town, but I can't think of a time we have thrown a gay off a bridge," Carroll said, referring to the July 1984 killing of Charlie Howard in Bangor by three teens who threw Howard off a bridge because he was gay.

He said he does not recall swastikas being painted at the local synagogue.

Carroll said many times stories can "get very good" and added that he thought Rockland was being bullied into approving the resolve.

"I believe there was an end game making Rockland a sanctuary city," Carroll said.

He said he accepts all people, pointing out that his wife is Chinese, that he has gay friends, and he has met many people through the Penobscot School.

Carroll said he opposed the resolve because he was against someone standing up and telling him what he could believe.

Magjik was a vocal supporter of the diversity resolve when it came before the council.

She said she knows the organizers of the resolve and that none of them support making Rockland a sanctuary city. Magjik said the resolve simply calls for treating people with respect and welcoming diverse groups of people.

The topic of economic development also came up during the May 15 candidates' forum. Carroll said the city needs an economic development director who will beat the bushes and find businesses to move here. He said the city does not currently have that because the economic development director has been serving as acting city manager since last June.

Magjik said research shows that a high density of small retailers brings in more property tax dollars than a single big-box store.

She said retail alone is not the answer, pointing out the looming departure of J.C. Penney.

She made suggestions such as converting the McLain School into a multi-use facility with tenants such as a pizza shop and small grocery store on the first floor, second-floor apartments and more costly housing units on the top floor with water views. She also said the space Penney's is vacating could be looked at for a second floor, so that the ground floor could be various smaller retailers with housing on top.

"We should encourage friendly development that serves the community," she said.

Magjik said she would support efforts to redevelop Camden Street, as recommended by an advisory committee. She said she would support asking the state transportation department to hold off paving until redevelopment along the road is completed.

The plans include rebuilding some of Camden Street, sidewalks on both sides of the street, curbing, median strips, landscaping and a roundabout to replace the intersection at Waldo Avenue.

Carroll said he would instead want the city to help existing businesses to expand, saying the current codes prevent such expansions. He said he would support the road project after businesses are allowed to expand or move in.

Magjik also voiced support for promoting open green space in the community. She expressed support at the council's May 8 meeting for designating the former MacDougal School lot a park.

Carroll did not speak about the MacDougal Park at that meeting, but voiced opposition to the city's spending $52,000 to buy 174 acres in the Bog to expand nature trails and preserve the land.

Both Carroll and Magjik spoke out the need for the community to pay attention to the environment. Carroll said the city should encourage clean industries. Both candidates said there should be an effort to reduce the use of plastic bags at grocery stores.

Both candidates also expressed support for retail marijuana stores' being allowed in Rockland. Carroll said voters approved a referendum and he does not know why these votes are held if the will of the citizens is not followed. He said it was a clean industry. Magjik and Carroll said such businesses could generate more revenues for the city.

Asked about dealing with illegal drug dealing in the community, Carroll said that a was a police matter.

"We've got this nice police department and we spend $2 million a year on the police department. That's their job to know what is going on there," he said. He also said it was up to everyone to pay attention to what was going on in their neighborhoods and pass the information on to police.

Magjik said support services and health insurance are needed to deal with drug addiction that is behind the drug-dealing.

"Addiction is a disease, not a crime," Magjik said.

She said people with addiction need the support of the community and access to recovery services rather than access to prison.

Magjik grew up in upstate New York, where she still has family.She lived in southern California and outside Seattle before moving to Rockland last August. She is an artist who specializes in sculptures and painting. She earned a master's degree in psychology with a bachelor's degree in fine art. She also provides whole person wellness services.

Magjik works at Close to Home sandwich shop.

Carroll repairs appliances and ran a local appliance store -- Carroll's Appliance -- for years in Rockland. Carroll was a Rockland representative on the Knox County Budget Committee from August 2013, when he was approved by the county commissioners, until he resigned in September 2015.

Turnout at June elections is generally low. In 2015, 590 people voted in the June election. In 2013, 139 voted and in 2011 there were 603 voters. City Council seats are normally filled in November.

The vacancy was created when Councilor Larry Pritchett resigned Feb. 1. The term of the councilor elected will run through November 2019.

Comments (10)
Posted by: Maggie Trout | May 17, 2017 12:54

Length of residence has nothing to do with an individual's level of knowledge of City documents, procedures, ability to assess proposals, degree of involvement in city-wide decision-making processes, (including RSU 13).  A newer resident might also be free from entrenchment in a group or local mindset.  In neither case, do I see either candidate either being as free from group liaisons, and/or  entrenchment in the "culture" of Rockland, as one might hope.  It is likely, for example, that Carroll has read the various city-related documents, as he has had property/business related issues.  That gets one's attention.  Whether Magjik has been pouring over these since announcing she would run, hasn't been reported.



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | May 17, 2017 11:17

Valerie, I agree with you that six months doesn't warrant my vote and I shall vote. I know Where Steve Carroll lives but Ms Magjik  listed just Main St. We have City officials that don't live in town, some say they can't afford the taxes.



Posted by: Maggie Trout | May 17, 2017 09:45

***NOTICE TO ROCKLAND VOTERS***
Absentee ballots for the June 13, 2017 State Referendum
Election, Special Municipal Election and RSU #13 Budget
Validation Referendum Election are available at the City
Clerk’s Office at Rockland City Hall, 270 Pleasant Street,
Notice received from Rockland City Clerk regarding early voting:
Notice from Rockland City Clerk regarding early/absentee voting:
***NOTICE TO ROCKLAND VOTERS***
Absentee ballots for the June 13, 2017 State Referendum
Election, Special Municipal Election and RSU #13 Budget
Validation Referendum Election are available at the City
Clerk’s Office at Rockland City Hall, 270 Pleasant Street,
Rockland, Maine during regular business hours Monday-
Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or by calling (207) 594-0304.
However, State Law prohibits the submission of the RSU #13
Budget Validation Referendum Ballot until after the District-
Wide Budget Meeting scheduled for May 30, 2017.



Posted by: Valerie Wass | May 17, 2017 07:10

I have to say that I am not comfortable voting for someone that has only lived here a short while.  It is obvious that she does not know that her campaign people or herself, SHOULD NOT STAPLE SIGNS to the telephone poles.  I have see many around Rockland and really am not impressed!   Also, this diversity thing is a bunch of BS!!!!!!!!!



Posted by: Valerie Wass | May 17, 2017 07:08

David,

Many could have been watching on TV!   Many could know who they are going to vote for already!  What the heck is your problem????!!!!!!!!!!!  Seems that you should stick your foot in your mouth not just this time, but several times already.  DID YOU ATTEND??????   DID YOU?????  PLEASE RESPOND!!!!

 



Posted by: Stephen Betts | May 16, 2017 16:13

shown repeatedly. I type too quick sometimes.



Posted by: Stephen Betts | May 16, 2017 16:12

David, the forum was also broadcast on the government access tv channel 21 and will be show repeatedly between now and election day.



Posted by: Mary A McKeever | May 16, 2017 15:51

Magjik says "Addiction is a disease". So the town of Camden issues the welcome carpet for this marijuana Which is a disease- addiction? Sounds like the town will have to hire more policemen. Alcohol is an addiction and the service of alcohol is licensed and consummation on premises is restricted. So what legal restrictions will there be on marijuana pubs? Just asking!

 



Posted by: Robin Gabe | May 16, 2017 14:05

Were you there, David?



Posted by: David E Myslabodski | May 16, 2017 13:45

QUICK NUMBERS

US Census estimates 7,237 residents in Rockland with 72 % of voting age = 5,934 voters.

Attending at that meeting 30 people = 0.5 % of possible voters . . . . .

Make your own conclusions . . .



If you wish to comment, please login.