“Rockport needs to have the pendulum swing back. I can be of help,” Select Board candidate Geoffrey Parker said May 9.

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, Patricia Egan, Robert Nichols and Parker will appear on the ballot for those seats, with the top two vote-getters winning election.

Parker served on the Rockport Select Board seven years ago, and again three years ago. He has been a member of the SAD 28 and Five Town Community School District boards of directors. He also served on Rockport’s Zoning Board of Appeals for more than a decade.

Regarding the future of the former Rockport Elementary School property at the corner of Route 1 and West Street, Parker said the process was as important as the outcome.

“I think the ideal solution is a solid enterprise that will do Rockport proud and a process that makes the majority of Rockport feel good about the decision,” said Parker.

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.

“I would have no problems with the [Maine Media Workshops and College] owning that space,” said Parker.

“Things may have been rushed and feelings were hurt,” he said. “It rests on the Select Board to make that decision. Ultimately I want the town to be happy with the decision, but I don’t want the board to be held captive by a few voices that came late in the process.”

He said there were people in the community who did not feel heard and that their reactions could have been handled differently.

“Some boards don’t feel approachable, whether by leadership or members’ actions,” said Parker. “I prefer to be part of a much more approachable board.”

“I think I agree with those who say it was an end run,” Parker said in response to action taken by the Select Board, and then reversed, to not renew the town manager’s contract for unspecified reasons. “It was abominable. It made no sense from a legal, ethical or moral perspective.”

“If I got elected, the small amount of work I charge the town for would be done for free,” said Parker.

“The work I do has to do with promoting knowledge,” he said. “It’s all about access. I take my knowledge in media and apply it to the town. I only charge for about one-quarter of what I do. I was a selectman, I wouldn’t charge. [It wouldn’t] change my energy toward improving the communication the town has with its citizens.”

“I don’t want everybody in town to agree with me,” said Parker. “I want them to know what’s going on and make their own decisions.” He said he would promote Rockport’s web presence more directly in blogs.

“I like Bernie Sanders’ [Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt.] comment that government is what we call the things we decide to do together,” said Parker.

“I think there is huge power and sensibility in cooperating,” he said. “I see government’s role as an agent for cooperation.”

“I want Rockport to continue to be a wonderful place to live physically, socially and educationally,” said Parker. “I want to preserve and increase the diversity that we have.”

“It’s a very homogeneous place,” he said.

“I want people to fall in love with Rockport and move here because they want to be here,” he said.

Parker said Rockport’s comprehensive plan was the town’s only guide.

“I was a minor member of that committee,” he said. “It was as thoroughly vetted as we could have it be. From a process standpoint, it’s what we go by. That and the charter.”

He said a lot of people worked on the comprehensive plan that was approved by a large plurality of voters.

“I think it’s a good document,” he said.

“I hope there comes a time when the whole notion of one point in Rockport versus another is history,” said Parker. “I want to respect that history, but I don’t want to live with its limiting aspects.”

“I would like to be a positive force in diminishing the polarities that the state and this region have historically been victim of,” he said. “Ultimately, I don’t care whether you’re a native or not. Do you have the best interests of Rockport and the area at heart?”

Parker said Rockport and Camden needed to seriously look at merging public safety departments.

“Both communities have decided their services are very local,” he said. “I’d like to see more cooperation with Camden that would be good for both communities.”

He said the opera houses were another function that could operate regionally.

“You could have one stop shopping,” he said. Currently, the Camden Opera House has a manager and Rockport’s is run through the Public Works Department. Parker said there could be a place for combined management.

“Rockport could increase its bookings,” he said.

“I’ve been able to make the boards I’m on more accessible to supporters and detractors,” said Parker. “That comes from my skills at listening, as a professional interviewer who does hundreds of interviews.”

“Years ago, during my long stint on the [Rockport] Zoning Board [of Appeals], I learned that one of my most important roles was to tell a new applicant what was happening at that moment,” he said. “Even if the decision came out against them they were appreciative of that guidance.”

He said serving on the zoning board and as a Select Board member was good training for the school board.

“The challenges of four other personalities [on the Select Board] is nothing to 10 other egos and personalities [on the school board],” he said.

Parker came to Rockport in 1977 after working for National Geographic and running the audio-visual department at Colby College. He interned at the Maine Photographic Workshops, the precursor to Maine Media Workshops and College, and worked there for eight years.

“I’m one of the many people who have come to this town because of the Maine Photo Workshops,” he said.

“The important thing for voters to know is that I’ve served the town for years,” Parker 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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