AUGUSTA — A veteran city councilor who promises to continue to help the city form partnerships with the private sector squares off with a newcomer who says he will listen to constituents who he feels haven’t been heard.

Dave Rollins, the incumbent, is a real estate appraiser in his second term as an at-large city councilor.

He faces Harold Elliott Jr., a former business owner who works for VA Maine Healthcare System-Togus, and was previously on the budget committee in neighboring Manchester.

Elliott said he’s running to give residents more of a voice on the council.

“I believe that local, state and federal (elected officials) have kind of gone away from listening to the constituents they represent,” said Elliott, 58. “I would invite anybody to call me at any time. I’d rather have their opinions, to get a better feel for how they would like me to vote. I have their best interest at heart, as a taxpayer myself.”

Rollins, 57, said he is running for another term to continue the work he has been doing on the council, especially in finding partnerships that stretch city money further by bringing businesses and volunteers to the table.

He cited renovations to Alumni Field at Cony High School, in which city and privately raised money were combined to replace worn bleachers, install more efficient lighting and an audio system and build an arched entrance and ticket booths, restrooms and concession stands. Rollins also pointed to involvement in the creation of the Business Careers Academy at Capital Area Technical Center.

“We can maximize the money we spend by looking at partnerships that bring entities or individuals together to work with the city,” Rollins said. “For Augusta’s future, it’s very important to maximize the opportunities we have to continue to improve the downtown, the school system and the residential and business environment.”

Rollins said he’d like to return to the council to see the next phase of Alumni Field renovations through, and work on a historic preservation ordinance.

Elliott said the city should maintain a balance between protecting neighborhoods and encouraging business growth by following what is already in the city’s comprehensive plan and land use plan.

“In those two documents, together, the city has a blueprint for business and residents to come together, that benefits both of them at the same time,” Elliott said. “You need to preserve neighborhoods. There are areas of the city zoned for business, and that is where they should be.”

He said the 17 years he owned a landscaping business give him skills in working with people and business. He said he would point out to businesses outside Augusta what it has to offer them to encourage them to bring their business into the city.

“I was born and brought up in the city of Augusta. I have a lot of fond memories here,” Elliott said. “I’d like to be involved in helping in as many ways as I can.”

Rollins said the city can best strike a balance between protecting neighborhoods and encouraging business growth by carefully planning for the areas where those two uses border each other, which is often along the city’s major roads. That planning should be done after listening closely to those involved to make sure everyone’s voice is heard, he said.

“I have a long record, first in coaching, then in government, of working to better us in many ways, of working with residents, for historic preservation and downtown revitalization,” Rollins said. “I’ve been as active as a person could be for their community.”

Aside from the Rollins-Elliott matchup, all other local races in Augusta are uncontested.

Mayor William Stokes and Ward 2 Councilor Darek Grant are both seeking re-election.

Amanda Bartlett and Laura Hamilton are seeking two available at-large seats on the Augusta Board of Education.

A Ward 3 position on the school board didn’t attract any official candidates but Nicole Desjardins has registered with the city as an official write-in candidate, according to City Clerk Barbara Wardwell.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]

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