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Emmott said effort to defund police spurred him to seek Council seat

By Stephen Betts | Sep 28, 2020
Ian Emmott

Rockland — Ian Emmott said he decided to run again for the Rockland City Council because of his opposition to the petition drive to defund police.

He said he was outraged by the petition.

"We are very lucky to have the department we have," Emmott said during the Sept. 24 City Council candidates debate. "The sort of embracement of this petition sent a devastating blow to the rank and file of Rockland Police Department."

Emmott, a Coast Guard veteran, is one of five people who are on the Nov. 3 ballot. There are two seats up for election. Emmott ran for a seat last year, falling short in his bid.

Emmott, a Talbot Avenue resident, served in the Coast Guard, including time in Rockland. He then went to Northeastern University in Boston through the GI Bill. He worked with disabled veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Emmott recently left that job and said he plans on opening up a distillery.

He was elected and served a term on the Rockland Port District, serving as treasurer for the public board. He said he was a fiscal conservative while there, opposing new spending plans. He also serves on the Rockland Historical Society Board.

He said he would do his part to ensure an already underfunded and understaffed police department would not be defunded.

"Recent calls to defund the Rockland Police will have adverse effects for our city and surrounding towns, and if elected, I will do my part to ensure this does not happen to an already underfunded and understaffed police force," Emmott said.

In terms of affordable housing, Emmott said he has done his part personally for more than 15 years. He owns a rental on Thomaston Street.

"I put my money where my mouth is," he said, noting he has continued to charge $700 a month for a long-term rental he said he could easily get for $1,000.

The city needs to look at short-term rental regulations, he said, arguing that people are buying up residential units and using them only as a means of profit.

Emmott said he would not support the proposal considered in 2019 to reduce minimum lot sizes, setbacks and house sizes. That proposal was initially approved by the City Council in January 2019, but later repealed in the face of opposition and a petition drive that would have led to a repeal referendum.

He called the proposal as a drastic change that would go against historic preservation standards. He said he would support new residential developments, such as the Habitat for Humanity neighborhood on Philbrick Avenue.

Emmott said he's voting against the municipal referendum that would create a city minimum wage that would increase to $15 by 2024.

He said there are a lot of empty buildings downtown and was concerned on the increase on local businesses. He said he agrees with the concerns voiced by the Pen Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"We don't know what things will look like on other end (of the pandemic). It's tough to start a business."

Asked about how the city will deal with an expected decline in revenues, he said he does not believe in turning to new revenues.

"I don't believe in taking the last dollar from the taxpayers," Emmott said.

Instead, the city should look at ways to reduce expenses, citing the citywide pickup by public services of lawn debris as a project that could be cut. He said that consumes a lot of labor and resources to undertake.

Emmott voiced support for holding in-person city council meetings, saying there are a lot of decisions being made that would draw people to the meetings. He said meetings could be held to meet physical distancing requirements.

"I feel a lot is going on recently in which people want to chime in, he said.

Emmott said reducing Main Street downtown to one lane for vehicle traffic created problems with deliveries for businesses. He said he doesn't like it as a driver.

But, he said, he knows its was done to assist businesses so they don't have to close their doors. He said the city needs to talk to all businesses before considering doing it again next year.

Emmott said he doesn't know enough about the issue of recreation services to comment on what should be done in the future.

In terms of large cruise ships, Emmott said there is a fleet of historic schooners in the community and when the large cruise ships are in port, they crowd the harbor and detract from the historic look of Rockland.

Emmott said the city needs to put elderly residents in the front and center in discussions. He said the people who built Rockland are being forgotten, and there should be relief offered to them.

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