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Three candidates vie for two seats on Camden Select Board

By Susan Mustapich | Jun 25, 2020
Running for two seats on the Camden Select Board are, from left, Bob Falciani, Peter Lindquist and Alison McKellar.

CAMDEN — Three candidates running for two three-year terms on the Camden Select Board — Bob Falciani, Peter Lindquist and Alison McKellar — were asked why they are running for the position. Their responses to this question are below.

They were also asked for their views on the future of Tannery Park; what needs to be done with dam removal, fish passage and restoration on the Megunticook River and the role of voters in decision-making on these matters; and what actions the Select Board needs to take to help Camden's residents and businesses deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. To read the candidates responses to these questions, see Part II, in The Camden Herald, July 2 edition.

Why candidates are running for Select Board

BOB FALCIANI

Falciani was elected to the Select Board in June 2017 and is currently chairman. He said he is motivated to run for reelection because there are a number of of very important things in progress that he wants to continue working on.

"What I wanted to get done in three years was not completed and I believe strongly that I need more time to do that. I always judge my performance by what I get done," he said.

One of these things is organization of capital and financial planning for the town, he explained. In the last year or so, the board, town manager and staff have formulated the planning tool for capital planning, which means, according to Falciani,  they have a pretty good handle on what the town needs from a capital perspective.

“It's a great tool that feeds into managing the town budget and recommendations and maintaining tax increases to a moderate level, which means keeping within inflationary bounds. And we've done that."

The need to improve infrastructure, which is now being impacted by climate change, including drainage, can be identified in capital planning, he said. The seawall and landing are impacted by these environmental elements. "We've got to fix what we have before we try to do too much that is new," he said.

Energy improvements are a personal interest for Falciani.

"We've made some dramatic steps in improving programs to reduce municipal energy consumption," he said. "The town is in the middle of doing performance contracting with Siemens, where the company will identify projects to reduce energy consumption in all of the town buildings and where the projects will be paid for by guaranteed energy reduction. We're doing this for all of our facilities, town hall, public works, public safety snow bowl and library and waste water facility."

Siemens has conducted an audit of all of the buildings, and will soon be presenting a decision matrix for the town and/or library trustees, so they can decide which projects they want to attack, Falciani said. it could be anything from replacement of the heating and cooling systems with heat pumps, to something as simple as changing to LED light bulbs.

"When we have that matrix, we can make decisions, implement the projects, and we won't even make the first payment until the year after they complete the work, because they measure the energy savings. If they achieve it great, if they don't it's their nickel," he said. Falciani would like to see these programs extend to the private sector and provide programs for individual homeowners and businesses.

In parallel with that, the town will be recommending to the electorate, in the near future, a program which will power all municipal facilities 100% with renewable energy, Falciani said. The town is currently at 70% renewable power, in a contract that expires in November, he said.

Now that Maine is the 42nd state in the nation to adopt net energy billing credits, it incentivizes developers to build solar or wind farms and sell energy credits from those facilities to municipalities like Camden. "It's a wonderful program that has worked everywhere in the country and has a history where we could buy these energy credits to produce our town's electrical energy and have significant savings on an annual basis on energy costs," he said.

Repairs are also taking place very soon to the town office and opera house building to replace gutters, fix pointing that is causing damage and leakage, and eliminate any potential for ice build up on the roof. It took over a year to get that in place.

"Those are three or four of the biggest things that are underway, but not quite done yet," Falciani said. "It's exciting to feel the progress now. It's taken time to get there."

PETER LINDQUIST

Lindquist is running for one of the two, three-year terms.

"Actions speak louder than words," he said.  "I decided I'm very fortunate to be at this point in my life where I can dedicate a tremendous amount of time to this committee, which is what the Select Board is. I've got some valuable energy, some valuable interests, some valuable stick-to-itivness and they will be put to the test."

"I've also discovered, being married to an almost three-decade Rotarian, that service above self is what we need right now and what we needed a long time ago, and we're going to call on that. That's were I start."

"I'm not new to the idea of community service. I've lived in this area for over a decade, working and volunteering at the Snow Bowl and different organizations, museums, and I am not opposed to asking people for help. That is what I bring from to the table."

When I study Maine, volunteer for her organizations, share stories and archives, I think of these Mainers and how they affected me for the good: Margaret Chase Smith, Samantha Smith (1972-1985) and her work with Yuri Andropov, the Communist leader of the Soviet Union, my grandmother, a League of Women Voters board member, who always had a copy of Roberts Rule of Order in the backseat of her car, and my father, a member of the contentious Sewer Committee in Cape Elizabeth in 1972.  Richard Nixon (with the help of Maine Senator Ed Muskie) had just signed the Clean Water Act, which outlawed dumping raw sewerage into the Atlantic Ocean. My dad helped educate the public that sewerage treatment plants served the common good."

ALISON MCKELLAR

McKellar was elected to the Select Board in June 2017, and is currently vice chairwoman.

 

She said she is running for reelection because she is able to be a voice for a large number of under-represented people or under-represented issues, and in looking at the make-up of the rest of the board, can see she has something different to add.

 

This is because of a lot of the things she is involved in, and not because anyone is being excluded by the town or other Select Board members, she said.

 

McKellar has kids at school, and talks to people at the playground, is involved in a lot of volunteer efforts, and has lived in Camden for a long time. Because of this, she is able to talk to a lot of people, listen to comments and bring that to the Select Board, she said.

 

She isn't afraid to shake things up and ask questions in a different way, she said.  She remembers how it felt not to be on the Select Board, and not to know the ins and outs of every little thing.

 

She pointed out that her questioning and shaking things up leads to results, while not full credit. The results include public bathrooms downtown that are open 24-hours a day, and don't close at 9 p.m., getting those bathrooms reopened after closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic and adding picnic tables to the Village Green and public landing at a time when more people coming to downtown want a place to be outside.

 

McKellar's persistent questioning also lead to excavation and environment testing of industrial waste on the riverbank at Tannery Park, within the past six months.

 

Year ago, she noticed industrial waste coming out of the side of the riverbank in numerous places. She knew "consultants were paid to evaluate this and it's supposedly already been cleaned up. That was shocking to me," she said. “I started out politely asking what was going on there, and realized some people didn't want to talk about that. That took four years of just bringing it up over and over.”

 

Listening to comments from others, led McKellar to rethink how the town's dams have been maintained for the past 200 years, and envision dam removal and restoration of natural habitat around the Megunticook River. She brought this perspective to the Select Board several years ago, which agreed to study options for repair or removal of the Montgomery Dam, and to seek federal and state funds to study habitat restoration for the river.

 

Part of being a voice for others is remembering what it was like before she was on the Select Board, according to McKellar. A lot of people are frustrated by the idea of coming to every board meeting, and watching very carefully in order to have a voice in Camden, she said.

 

"For a long time, in Camden there's been this habit of your opinion only counts if you can show up at a public meeting," she said. "It takes a lot of time to keep track of all of the things that are going on in town and to recognize opportunities for input."

She describes how people get frustrated with not knowing things, such as " 'Why is it that you can't have live music after 11 p.m., or how did it happened that Cuzzy's has to abide by all these rules.' Well, there was a noise ordinance and everybody voted on it," she said.

She cites the process leading up to public votes as hard to follow, and said the implications of ordinances can be difficult to understand. "A lot of the residents I talk to expect their elected representatives to be that voice as much as possible," she said.

For McKellar, another reason for running for reelection is her passion about environmental issues. "I'm excited about the opportunity for Camden to be even more of a leader than we already are,” she said.

She and her children spend a lot of time down by the harbor. "I talk to hundreds of tourists and residents, which has been really fun. There is so much interest in learning about the tides, or what is that tiny creature you kids just found, and we have other kids join in with us all the time, and people want to know what kind of bird is that, why is that crab is invasive, or why is the harbor brown right now.

It's exciting that so many people come to Camden for our amazing scenery and businesses. Some come to Camden because of Main Street and how beautiful and cool that is, and the shops that have been cultivated really carefully all these years," she said.  "And then they're also strolling through Harbor Park and looking at the wildlife. There's an opportunity for them to learn something that might inspire them to take back to their towns. Like awareness about sea level rise, because sea level has already risen nine inches since 1880 and it's going to rise even more."

There are a lot of opportunities here to be a model for different ways of doing things, which constantly inspires her, she said.

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