“I have lived in many places,” Patricia Egan said May 5. “Most of the time I have served in some way.”

Five candidates will vie for two seats on the Rockport Select Board. Select Board Chairman William Chapman’s current term, and that of Tom Farley, will expire in June. The names of Chapman, Gordon Best, Egan, Robert Nichols and Geoffrey Parker will appear on the ballot for those seats, with the top two vote-getters winning election.

Egan moved to Maine in the late 1990s and to Rockport in 2003. She said it took a while for her to settle in the community, and it was time for her to be involved.

“I love Rockport and would like to serve,” she said. “My having lived so many places and observed other communities function would bring a fresh perspective to the board.”

Egan served on Rockport’s Salaries and Benefits Ad Hoc Committee. She said conversations with other town managers showed her different ways to do things.

“The way the [Rockport] Select Board operates, sometimes I think it’s backwards,” she said.

“Things that should emanate from the board are coming from the manager’s office,” said Egan. “The board is the governing body. The manager works for the board.”

She said she thought it had been clear that the board wanted information, gathered by salaries and benefits committee, from comparable municipalities and the private sector. When the mission of the group was set down on paper, it only called for the municipal comparison.

“That was a cause of a lot of difficulty on the committee,” said Egan.

She said messages from the committee were sent to the board’s chairman and vice chairman only. Egan said she did not know who created the distribution list.

While she expressed concern about the town manager’s relationship to the board, she did not offer an opinion about a recent move, by three board members, to let current Town Manager Robert Peabody go when his contract expires at the end of June. That decision was reversed May 9.

“I’m not on the Select Board,” she said. “I don’t think it’s my place to suggest what should happen.”

Egan said she has not been following the discussion about the future of the former Rockport Elementary School property at the corner of Route 1 and West Street.

The Rockport Select Board voted May 9 to appoint a negotiation team to enter into discussions with Maine Media Workshops and College regarding the future of the former Rockport Elementary School property.

“The property is owned by generations of townspeople,” she said. Egan said the board should ask the town to vote on whether they wished to sell or lease the property, before pursuing negotiations with a prospective buyer.

“I think it’s better to hold on to it and lease it,” she said. “It will only be more valuable, eventually.” She said negotiating in advance of a community decision on whether or not to sell the property was a waste of time for the people, the town’s government, and the prospective buyer.

“I think it’s really important to elect people of good character,” said Egan. “A person of good character will automatically recuse themselves.” She said it was hard to get people to serve who don’t have some sort of conflict.

“You have to tread carefully in a small town,” she said. “The minute someone thinks there has been abuse or a real conflict, that should be addressed.”

“Government, whether local, state or federal, should be responsive to the electorate and the minute it gets too large and unwieldy or stubbornly refuses to respond to the people who are its employers, steps need to be taken,” she said.

She said government was there to provide necessary services, such as public works, that individuals could not manage on their own.

“Most of the services the town provides start out to be ways to help the town flourish,” she said. “Sometimes it gets a little bit encrusted. We elect people and think, ‘That’s their job,’ and we go about ours and don’t exercise the vigilance we need to.”

“I like [Rockport] the way it is right now,” Egan said. “As long as we are undergoing economic difficulty, we need to trim our sails. People have been used to prosperity and expansion.” She said there were limits to economic growth.

Egan said the town was part of a good school system and had a well-run public works department.

“People love to come here for the summer and love to live here year round,” she said. “I’d like to keep it a good place to live and I would love to see all of us having a sense that we are all in one boat together. We all do different things, but we are part of a whole.”

Egan said she was not familiar with Rockport’s comprehensive plan.

“People today are less inclined to do things face to face than in other times,” she said. Egan said people use email and other communication tools instead of meeting to discuss things.

She said she supported continued exploration of combining public safety functions between Camden and Rockport, but that the towns might have different ways of handling fire and police services.

She said other towns might have ways to solve problems that Rockport could learn from.

“We want to have necessary services, but we don’t want to duplicate them,” said Egan.

She said divesting Rockport of responsibility for public facilities such as parks by bringing private companies in to maintain them might not be a good solution for Rockport.

Egan said sharing information, such as the report complied by the salaries and benefits committee, was a practice that would help Rockport and all the towns surveyed for the study.

Egan has been a trustee of Montpelier, and was president of the Flora Place Association in St. Louis. She was appointed to the Archdiocesan Board of Education in Chicago and the board of the Bernard Egan Family Foundation in Florida.

She is a writer of Irish history, has taught junior high school, high school, where she was chairman of a 26-member religion department, and college, and has written for several Vermont newspapers.

“My hope is to contribute to Rockport’s moving forward, in this era of economic difficulty and reassessment, both of our priorities and our methods of achieving our goals,” she said.

Egan said voters should consider what type of Select Board they want to have and what kind of town they want to live in.

“The second answer would influence the first,” she said.

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

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