2017-10-26 / Front Page

Election 2017

Two seek mayor’s seat in Saco

Saco Mayor Ronald Michaud will not seek reelection this fall. Instead, former mayor Donald Pilon will run against former city councilor Marston Lovell. Below are their answers to survey responses. Name: Marston D. Lovell Age: 71 Position seeking: Mayor

Address: 51 Nott St.

Phone: 590-3800

Occupation: Freelance computer programmer Third Generation languages

Family: Married, two children, five grandchildren

Education completed: Two baccalaureates

Organizations and activities: Volunteer, Dyer Library, wiring and setting up the local area network for internet access; board member, treasurer, and finance committee chairman, Board of Trustees Dyer Library and York Institute; strategy and finance committee chairman, legislative policy committee chairman, executive committee member and vice president, Maine Municipal Association; councilor three terms, deputy mayor one term Saco Council; commissioner District 3, York County Commission.

Top three issues:

1. Taxation and spending are the perennial priority issue at every level of government. To achieve my career goal, I focused my education in accounting and economics. My hands on experience has been 40 years as an accountant, manager, controller, nonprofit treasurer (controller), finance committee chairman and business owner. Because of this experience I am uniquely qualified to address the capital budget and balance sheet portion of city operations.

2. City center development is a key focus for Saco government. In order to keep an active city center in the age of mall shopping, Saco government invested between $10,000,000 and $15,000,000 in downtown city-owned assets. The next stage in that development is the recognition that the age of online shopping has opened the opportunity for niche or boutique businesses to assist the city in achieving a return on our long term investment. Using city committees, citizens groups and interested individuals we must recognize the importance of traffic flow and parking to bring new revenue into the city.

3. Continued real property loss at Camp Ellis and further to the north. The jetty modification in the early 1950s highlighted the poor original design of the Camp Ellis jetty. My military service, particularly my 14 years of commissioned service in the Corps of Engineers, has taught me how to approach the Army chief of engineers and the civil works branch. Remediation and mitigation is possible, but I know the federal government reacts adversely to attack and the U.S. Army and Department of Defense are very budget sensitive.

Why are you seeking elected office?

This is an exciting and pivotal time for Saco. I believe I can be an effective advocate for Saco locally, regionally, and statewide in order to facilitate the city’s progress. My four decades of education and experience give me insight into the significant challenges for Saco in the coming years. My training and my experience working in teams and generally in a business environment will be the fuel to power the ideas from my experiences in combination with those of the other team members to change these challenges to opportunities and resolutions.

Government at the local level is most accessible to residents. Every act and statement is available to the constituents. The mayor has regular contact with the people affected by the council’s decisions.

I became interested in another aspect of local government and was elected a county commissioner. Though there is always more to be learned, I believe the instruction, reading materials and the matters that have been dealt with by the commission during my time as a commissioner have provided me an understanding of how city and county government can work together to improve the efficient use of Saco’s property tax dollars. To be an activist for local government, during my terms on the city council I became active in the Maine Municipal Association and worked as a voice for cities and towns as a commentator on the Governor’s State of The State Address and as a spokesperson before legislative committees.

What should residents of Saco expect of their mayor?

Commitment to the city’s success in providing service to its residents. Building on the city’s teams, its council, boards, committees and commissions to make a more effective city staff. Maintain easy access to the mayor for the residents. Demonstrate integrity. Monitor the city’s operational systems and its reporting. Monitor the city staff and council attention to policy. Build and protect resident attitude for Saco as a first class community. Be a strategic thinker and planner. Accept criticism and take responsibility for failure.

What is the mayor’s greatest responsibility to Saco residents?

The mayor’s primary focus is to work with the council and city administrator to operate a government that respects the community’s needs and serves them responsibly. Name: Donald Pilon Age: 66

Position seeking: Mayor

Address: 1 Meadow Lane

Phone: 590-0507

Occupation: Real Estate Broker

Family: Wife, Linsey Pilon. Daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter living in Saco

Education completed: Bachelor’s Degree in sociology, University of New England/ St. Francis College, graduate coursework in public administration

Organizations and activities: Biddeford-Saco Rotary Club; Sweetser Corporator; Engine, member board of directors; Saco Mayor 2013-2015; state representative District 133 part of Saco (now District 14) 2004-2012; graduate of the Maine Development Foundation (Pi Class); founder and executive Director of The First Tee of Maine/Maine Youth Golf Foundation; mitigation director, York County Emergency Management Agency; emergency management director, city of Biddeford; call force for Saco Fire Department, Camp Ellis Station; assistant fire chief, Biddeford Pool Station.

Top three issues:

1. Education. Clearly Saco has issues to resolve in education, including the need for a sound plan for a new school to replace Young School. There is a broader concept in preparing our students for their futures by making them creative, critical thinkers. STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) has become a mantra in giving our children the building blocks to be competitive in the marketplace. I would propose that the arts be added to the base plan, turning STEM to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), allowing our children to be individuals who will be the next innovators, entrepreneurs and problem solvers.

2. Economic development. There is positive economic activity in Saco, but I believe we could channel and maximize our focus by creating a Mayor’s Economic Advisory Panel. The group would be voluntary and collaborative, consisting of the economic development director, Saco Main Street, Biddeford, Saco Chamber of Commerce, Biddeford Saco Economic Development Commission and community based organizations. Their mission would be to share ideas and discuss current projects and goals that each organization is working on. This collaboration would avoid duplicating or conflicting efforts. Greater progress can be achieved by working together.

3. City charter review. Saco’s city charter was written and adopted in 1980, with miscellaneous amendments in intervening years. I believe that a comprehensive review is needed to bring the document to 21st century standards and ensure that the charter reflects the community’s needs and their vision of their city government. Current deficits in the charter include features as basic as gender neutrality, reflection of technology use, outdated listings of necessary departments, office or agencies and others.

Why are you seeking elected office?

I enjoy public service, which ranges in scope from helping to identify both individual and community needs and problem-solving to meet those needs. Public and community service have been an integral part of my life since my youth. Examples of that leaning are seen in my roles as volunteer firefighter, emergency management including coordinating shelter operations with the Red Cross, founding of The First Tee of Maine to teach core values to underserved youth, active participation in Rotary service projects, and political representation. I truly care about the community. I want Saco to continue to be a welcoming, attractive and diverse community. It’s a difficult balance to keep our New England charm while creating solid plans for a growing residential and business community in the 21st century.

I want current residents to be able to stay in Saco without fear of financial hardship based on local government policies. I believe that Saco is poised to be a very desirable destination for new residents and businesses. It is important to have a city government which is forward-thinking, creative and prudent in its planning and regulations. I want to be a leader in that creative team.

What should residents of Saco expect of their mayor?

The residents of Saco should absolutely expect their mayor to serve them with respect, pride and integrity. My leadership style relies heavily on listening to people’s concerns and using the resources and connections that I have developed to help them. My career started in the insurance business where I joined clients at their kitchen tables and listened to their needs and their goals, and did what I could to move them toward their goals. That reliance has continued through my professional and political career. Saco residents should expect their mayor to listen to their concerns and make every effort to address them. The mayor should also be well-informed on local, state and national issues and resources. Often a local problem or issue has already been addressed or solved in another town or state, and if local officials can learn from their experience, then time and money can be saved. In my first term as Saco mayor I was selected to be on the Local Leaders Council of Smart Growth America in Washington, D.C., where I shared Saco’s visionary effort, Bridge 2025, creating a 10-year “roadmap” for the city. Smart Growth America published an article in its national magazine about Bridge 2025, giving Saco national exposure. My time in the Maine legislature has given me connections and resources which are readily available for needed information or referral. My many years in residential and commercial real estate keeps me informed on regulations and economic trends which is useful in forming realistic goals and policies for our city.

What is the mayor’s greatest responsibility to Saco residents?

The mayor’s greatest responsibility to Saco residents is to serve them as advocate, troubleshooter and resource for citizens, problem-solver and facilitator. Many Saco residents may not understand the powers and duties of the mayor as described by the city charter which clearly states that, “The mayor shall have no administrative duties except those expressly granted by this charter,” While the mayor presides over city council meetings, he or she does not have voting rights except in the case of a tie vote. I believe that a good mayor seeks and maintains active roles in organizations which work to create prudent policies and regulations to protect citizens. As mayor I participated in the State Mayors’ Coalition, which afforded me broad perspective on issues across the state. We worked on proposed bills in the Legislature which potentially impacted our cities and communities and occasionally testified before various committees at the statehouse. It is also important for the mayor to attend meetings of the Maine Municipal Association and provide input on proposed legislation. It is important that the mayor keep the city council and city administrator apprised of current issues which could impact Saco.

Other important roles filled by the mayor include ambassador, serving as the face of the city, public relations, attending functions and community events.

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