Gardiner residents will have a chance Tuesday night to hear from the two candidates running for mayor and at least five of the six candidates vying for three open City Council seats.

The candidate forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. Candidates will be asked three questions each and will have two minutes to respond, according to Anne Davis, director of the Gardiner Public Library, which is hosting the event.

After the moderated question portion of the forum, residents will be able to ask the candidates their own questions, she said. The moderated questions will be live-streamed on the city’s website.

Five of the six City Council candidates who turned in nomination papers responded to invitations to the forum, Davis said. Both mayoral candidates are expected to attend.

The race for mayor is between the incumbent, Thomas Harnett, and George Trask, a former city councilor. The two candidates’ views differ greatly, particularly on how to develop and grow the city.

The only way the city can really decrease taxes is by increasing the number of people paying them, Harnett said. Harnett says he the city should continue making the downtown as attractive and vibrant as it can be to increase the city’s population, which dropped from about 6,000 to less than 5,800 between 1990 and 2010.

He said the city has seen positive developments recently, including selling two lots in the city’s Libby Hill Business Park earlier this year and securing $400,000 in grants from the Environmental Protection Agency last year to examine potential contaminated sites in the downtown and Cobbossee Stream area.

While Harnett said he thinks it’s necessary to grow the tax base to reduce the property tax burden, Trask believes cutting taxes will increase the number of residents and business in the city.

Trask is fond of saying that if the city looks out for the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves, and he has a variety of ideas of cutting costs, including reducing some department spending and cutting back at the library.

“I’m totally fed up with the waste,” he said.

Trask also thinks the city should require department heads to live in the city so they’ll be more likely to spend less money, he said. Trask said the next city manager hired should also be required to live in Gardiner.

“If they don’t want to live in our city, then they’re not good enough to run our city,” he said.

In the council races, two current councilors, Robert Logan Johnston and Scott Williams, are running for re-election. All three seats are at-large, meaning they aren’t representing specific districts. Also running are Jonathan Ault, Maureen Blanchard, Steve Hunnewell and Richard Rambo. Davis said all but Hunnewell responded to invitations to the candidate forum.

The city is also hosting a forum for state legislature candidates representing the communities of Gardiner, Litchfield, Pittston, Randolph and West Gardiner at 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall.

Davis said only Democratic candidates responded to the invitation: David Bustin for Senate District 14, Guy Desjardins for Senate District 22, Gay Grant for House District 83, Tim Marks for House District 87 and Rachel Sukeforth for House District 82.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig

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