Who is Penelope “Penny” York? She is running for Rockland City Council, and she is my neighbor. I suppose this makes me biased in deciding who to vote for, insomuch as it gives me some insight into the kind of person she is. Penny is one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. If she has extra, whether it be a hot meal or a bag of fresh vegetables, it appears at our doorstep. When my wife and I were away for two weeks visiting family, she worked with her five-year-old son (who is now eight) to surprise us with a large, colorful “Welcome Home” banner. When we first moved in, knowing we didn’t have a lawnmower yet, Penny had her husband mow our lawn when he mowed theirs. In short, in the lottery of neighbors, we hit the jackpot.

Is being a kind, generous, thoughtful person all it takes to make a good City Councilor? No, but I reckon it gets you about halfway there. Since committing to running for City Council, I’ve seen the passion and dedication with which Penny has poured herself into this endeavor. On top of the demands of being a very successful project management executive and parent, she has spent every spare moment researching key issues and meeting with area residents and business owners, city councilors, and fellow candidates. Penny recognizes all the excellent planning work that has already been done here. She sees that her experience managing large projects can help with prioritizing, coordinating, and executing plans – so they don’t just end up as good ideas collecting dust on a shelf.

Penny has a lot of good ideas for Rockland (several of which she recently shared on WRFR’s “Rockland Metro” radio show and the Courier-Gazette’s “candidates’ night” forum.) Ideas like collaborating with Mid-Coast School of Technology and Oceanside High School students on internships that could improve Rockland’s social media presence and assist with properties suffering from deferred maintenance, scheduling outdoor markets to coincide with the arrival of cruise ships, or increasing transparency to let each resident know how their tax dollars are being (or will be) spent.

Penny’s ingenuity, creative thinking, and entrepreneurial spirit will be great assets for the City Council and the people of Rockland, but it isn’t about her pushing some agenda. She clearly has a deep love for the Rockland community and wants to do whatever she can to help it thrive. She listens to everyone with an open mind and an open heart. Penny also believes the City Council’s decisions should consistently be driven by data. If she doesn’t have an answer, she doesn’t respond with vague generalities. She acknowledges a lack of familiarity with the topic, vows to educate herself, and commits to reconnect with the person asking the question. I appreciate that kind of honesty and integrity.

So, who is Penny York? She’s someone I feel lucky to call my neighbor, and someone every member of the Rockland community would be lucky to call city councilor.

Paul Kieper