“I think Camden’s biggest challenge, for the near- and long-term future, is growth,” Donald A. White Jr. said May 12. “I’d like to be a part of the decisions regarding growth because growth, to me, is a delicate balance between that moving forward segment of adding businesses and jobs, and maintaining our small community charm. Growth brings challenges of where and how to grow.”

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

“Now that the town has hired an economic development director, there’s a segment of town that’s gotten serious about growth,” he said.

White said Camden’s Strategic Economic Development Action Plan completed earlier this year was a good thing.

“It’s really a blueprint of what we can hope to accomplish if we follow it,” he said.

White said he did not know if there was an ideal solution to the issue of the vacant town-owned property where the Apollo Tannery used to be.

“I would like to see all avenues explored as outlined by the committee that studied it,” he said. “I’m sure there’s a business out there that would want to locate on the tannery property.”

White said he supports the Snow Bowl expansion concept.

“I know they’ve raised, through commitments and pledges, $2 million of the $4.5 million in private funding,” he said. “In an advisory vote, the town said we’d favor bonding the public $2 million piece, if they raised $4.5 million in private funds. Camden is very fortunate to have the Snow Bowl, which showed a profit this past season, and is being utilized all year round.”

“I look forward to seeing the updated plans,” he said.

White said Camden was doing what is necessary to provide affordable housing for workers.

“There’s no question the town has a responsibility to its citizens, no matter what their income is,” said White.

He said he hoped that in 10 years the downtown would look like it does today, with the addition of parking and what he called “the infilling of vacant office spaces.”

“This growth situation is so important to economic health,” he said. “It will help with taxes.” He said economic growth would provide better roads and amenities as well.

White said there needed to be a lot of study before the towns of Camden and Rockport could consider consolidating public safety departments.

“That’s a discussion that has been brought up before,” he said. White said cooperation among Midcoast towns was important.

“The growth issue for me is important,” said White. He said that in 2008 Camden had 2,546 jobs in 334 businesses.

“We’re going to need forward thinking,” he said. White said the Strategic Economic Development Action Plan study indicated the town could create at least 33 new jobs a year.

“It doesn’t sound like much,” he said, adding that even a few jobs could make a big difference in a town Camden’s size. He said growth could balance Camden’s small community feeling and should utilize all existing land, space and infrastructure while bringing in new income and creating jobs.

“People should think regionally and act locally,” he said. “That means making hometown decisions but being mindful of how they affect the Midcoast region.”

Among the possibilities, he said, were recent technology and innovation businesses such as new media.

“I’d like to see our village quality of life remain as it is,” he said. White said Camden would be more vibrant if there were more businesses.

“In talking to Camden residents, I came away with the sense that it’s all about quality of place,” said White.

He said people don’t want residential streets to be used as alternatives to Route 1.

“They’re concerned about zoning changes and why leaf pickups were stopped,” he said. White said constituents were also interested in a fresh look at sign ordinances.

“They don’t want Camden to look honky-tonk with an overabundance of signs,” White said, but he said residents were aware of a need for signs to direct visitors and residents to amenities and services in the community.

“I want decisions to be out in the open,” said White. “I love that our democratic process allows for transparency.”

He said it was important that people be involved in the process, ask questions and seek answers.

“We’re all concerned about taxes and services,” said White. He said one of the tools development brings is connections on the state and federal level and access to grant funding. He said grants would allow Camden to explore new opportunities without providing all of the money for studies.

White said Gateway 1 dollars funded the economic study that’s “not collecting any dust.”

“My background with Gateway 1 has allowed me the opportunity to interact with federal and state officials. That has given me contacts that will help the community when I am elected,” he said.

White was sales manager at Maine Tourism Association, a private advocacy group in Hallowell, made up primarily of representatives of lodging, restaurant and travel businesses. He is chairman of the Camden Opera House committee and is volunteer chairman of the Camden Public Library’s book sales.

“There will be a lot of important decisions in the next few years,” said White. “I’d like to be at the table and in on the discussion. I’m qualified.”

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