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MacLellan-Ruf wants Council to listen to committees

By Stephen Betts | Oct 27, 2020
Louise MacLellan-Ruf

Rockland — Louise MacLellan-Ruf said she is running for the Rockland City Council for the same reason she did in 2013, because the City Council was not listening to its citizen committees and boards.

MacLellan-Ruf is one of five candidates running for the City Council. There are two seats to be filled on the Nov. 3 ballot.

"When the Council ignores its committees and commissions, it is ignoring the community," she said during the Sept. 24 debate with City Council candidates.

MacLellan-Ruf served one three-year term on the Council, being elected in 2013. She was elected mayor by her council peers in 2015. She did not seek reelection when her term expired in 2016.

The Pacific Street resident serves as chair of the Harbor Management Commission, a post she also held prior to serving on the Council. She also serves on the Harbor Trail Committee.

MacLellan-Ruf worked as a social worker and therapist in Massachusetts and Rhode Island before moving to Rockland.

She said she first got involved in Rockland government operations in 2008, when there was a plan to create a private parking lot at Sandy Beach Park. Efforts by South End residents saved the park.

She quoted Judge Judy by saying "We need to put on our listening ears."

MacLellan-Ruf said while she served on the harbor commission the first time, the board repeatedly recommended the Council end the practice of dumping snow in the harbor, but the Council did not act until she was elected.

The Pacific Street resident said serving on the Council was a tough job. She said there is a steep learning curve.

"I'm a lot smarter this time around. I'm prepared to be secretly taped again. I'm prepared to stand up a to billion dollar cruise industry. I'm prepared to fight the chamber of commerce when its numbers are skewed," MacLellan-Ruf said.

The taped telephone conversation she referred to was in 2016 when, as mayor, she contacted city resident Mike Grondin and asked him to attend a City Council meeting to raise complaints about Councilor Larry Pritchett.

“I apologize. There is no question I messed up. I used poor judgment,” MacLellan-Ruf said at the time. She went on, however, to refer to the fact that she was recorded without her knowledge while making the request.

In terms of cruise ships, MacLellan said she and the harbor commission brought information to the Council for years on large cruise ship risks, such as pollution, and questioned the economic benefits touted by the University of Maine.

She said the commission was in support of the smaller boutique cruise ships, but larger vessels were too much.

"We don't have the infrastructure to have 5,000 people coming into town who will buy trinkets and t-shirts. We have to say what is best for Rockland not one or two businesses," she said.

MacLellan-Ruf said she supports businesses paying a living wage, but the referendum to create a city minimum wage that would rise to $15 an hour by 2024 surprised businesses. She said a process was needed to get their input and not delve so much into state and national issues.

At the Sept. 24 debate for council candidates, MacLellan-Ruf said she does not know how she will vote on the minimum wage referendum.

The former mayor agreed that lack of affordable housing was an important issue, but she did not have an answer.

MacLellan-Ruf said she was glad the Council listened to petitioners who, in 2019, worked to override the Council's approval of a zone change that would have reduced minimum lot sizes, setbacks and minimum house sizes by rescinding the ordinance.

She said reducing lot sizes in certain parts of the city and then seeing how that works would be one possibility.

When asked about dealing with an expected loss of revenues, the candidate said the city has consistently lost revenues. She cited an example of when a Nordic ship came to town and the city council notified the harbor commission only 24 hours before it voted to waive the fees for the ship. That ship later charged $12 per passenger to tour it and the city received no money.

The City Council should hold hybrid meetings with councilors attending in person, but someone could stay home and participate online if sick and the public could attend in person, following CDC recommendations on masks and physical distancing, or participate online.

In regard to the defund police movement, MacLellan Ruf praised the Rockland department. She said she talked with Chief Chris Young when the protests were held, and she said he was willing to discuss whether there should be a reallocation of funds to deal with addictions.

"I support our local police and their willingness to have conversation if resources need to be adjusted," she said.

MacLellan-Ruf said the downtown looks absolutely horrible with barricades and reducing it one lane. She said it was due to a lack of communication between the city and businesses.

"We're the arts capital of Maine and to have it look that bad was an embarrassment," she said.

The candidate said any future decisions for recreation services should include free programs for young people and the city could reassess the contract with the Pen Bay YMCA.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Oct 27, 2020 21:30

My opinion: Once is enough. We don't need a fancy cobblestone parking area at Sandy Beach or a million dollar 'harbor trail'. It was something that POed me more than once while driving on Atlantic St and dodging potholes big enough to swallow my car (until they finally paved it) while at the same time watching workmen adding fancy fitted cobblestones to the trail that now stops just shy of the Dragon Products facility before it turns to more sensible and economical crushed stone. I fear that is the next thing on the wish list. Not for Rockland as a whole... or the taxpayers. Fully for the southend and cost is no consideration. Most of the other council seekers are all in for the Main St 'vision' with cost being no factor. At least you differ in that regard. Furthermore, if we start letting all the 'commissions' dictate ways to spend our money we will need another driveby valuation sooner rather than later.

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