Karen Grove said May 7 that her decision to seek re-election was “about community service, which is something I feel strongly about.”

“I wish more people would step up to the plate,” she said. “Small towns function better if people get involved. Believing that, I couldn’t sit back and say, ‘All you people get up and do something.'”

Grove is currently chairwoman of the Select Board and one of three candidates seeking seats currently held by herself and Vice Chairwoman Deborah Dodge. Select Board members serve three-year terms and are also members of the Board of Assessors.

Grove is serving her second full term on the Select Board. She joined the board to complete the term of a member who was stepping down.

She said a light manufacturing company would be a good business to occupy the vacant town-owned property where the Apollo Tannery used to be.

“There was somebody at one point, who was a clothing designer looking to build there and do production on site in Camden,” she said. “That kind of jobs will be lasting.”

“Women can work a schedule and care for a child a home,” said Grove. “Women struggle to be employed because of a lack of manufacturing jobs that don’t include heavy lifting.”

She said she wanted a non-polluting industry that would “shine a bright light on Camden” as being a town that is receptive to industry and not just to tourism.

Grove said she has not been very involved in the discussion about the expansion of the Ragged Mountain Ski Area.

“If you asked me two years ago, I would have said $4.5 million was overreaching,” she said. “But after the report we just had from [Recreation Director] Jeff Kuller about the health of the Snow Bowl and how it is becoming more of a magnet for the state, the amount of money it made this year was amazing. It gets healthier and healthier.”

“It’s an industry that creates jobs during those hard months,” Grove said. She said she now supports the renovation.

“I think they’ve proven themselves in the last couple of years,” she said.

Grove said affordable housing is in Camden’s comprehensive plan.

“It’s part of the package,” she said. “A comprehensive plan is just a plan. We have an obligation to do the best we can. It’s a really good thing to do.”

She said a project near her neighborhood on Mt. Battie Street was built on former commercial property that was not selling.

“When the affordable housing group wanted to put [housing] up there I sprinted to the planning board and said, ‘There is nothing better for stabilizing a neighborhood than to have families with small children moving into it.’ Especially where it was going in my neighborhood, I thought they needed that support,” said Grove.

“I can’t think of anything I would change for downtown physically,” she said of Camden’s commercial district. “It is what it is. It has Route 1 running through the middle of it.”

“What I would like to see, in support of our downtown businesses, is to see the chamber bring in more people for the shoulder months,” said Grove. She said the fall season saw good traffic, but that spring was generally slow.

“People tell me they love Camden but don’t come because it’s too busy,” she said. “The chamber should reach out to Mainers.”

Physically, she said, Camden looks like it did when she was a child. Grove spent childhood summers at 10 Mountain St.

Grove said consolidating public safety departments with Rockport might have some value in terms of budgets, but “I think administratively it would be extremely difficult.” “It would take a lot of planning,” she said.

“Rockport is spread out a lot more than Camden,” said Grove. “The Rockport Fire Department goes out to West Rockport.”

“I don’t know how it would work,” she said, adding that both towns would be talking about it in the near future.

She said chambers of commerce are already regionalized and might become more so with a possible merger of the Camden-Rockport Lincolnville and Penobscot Bay Regional chambers.

Grove said she was concerned about the amount of publicly held land in Camden. Between the town itself and a number of land trusts and other nonprofit organizations, she said about a third of the town was not part of the tax base.

“That’s something we need to look at before we look at acquiring more land for the public domain,” said Grove. “Our tax base is residential, like it or not.”

“The less land you have for development, the greater burden it places on those households that already exist,” she said.

Among those tax-exempt properties Grove listed were Laite Beach, the Camden Yacht Club, the Bog, the Snow Bowl, the library grounds and various harbor areas. She said other properties were on Mt. Battie Street, along Route 105 and on Megunticook Lake.

“Those are just the parks,” she said. “Then you have rights of way. Put that together with Coastal Mountains Land Trust land, Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the state park. It’s an enormous amount of property.”

“That’s nice, but where is the stopping point,” said Grove. “It warrants a discussion.”

She said other issues facing Camden were those that all towns faced, such as the economy, jobs, taxes, schools and roads.

“I think we’ve got good people running,” she said. “Both of my opponents have depth of background in town committees. Both Jim [Heard] and Don [White] have served the town and done a good job.”

“I would like to see it in the charter that you would have to serve a three-year stint on the budget committee before running for Select Board,” she said. Grove said both Heard and White were well qualified.

“No matter who wins the town wins on this one,” said Grove.

The Herald Gazette reporter Shlomit Auciello can be reached at 207-236-8511 or by email at sauciello@villagesoup.com.