The four candidates for Winthrop Town Council all say the town needs a new fire station, but none of them is willing to raise taxes to make that happen.

The four candidates are vying for three available seats on the council. Incumbents Linda Caprara and Kevin Cookson, who have a combined 33 years on the council, are seeking re-election; and David Bubier and Priscilla Jenkins are seeking to join the council.

Voters will make their decision during the statewide election scheduled for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 3. Winthrop voting takes place at the Town Office, at 17 Highland Ave.

Voters also will chose three people, from a field of four candidates, to serve as trustees of Charles M. Bailey Public Library. Pearl Ames, Merrie Hanson, Robert Johnson and Elizabeth Sienko are seeking election to the board.

The three council openings are being created by the expiration of the terms of Caprara, Cookson and Larry Fitzgerald, who is not seeking re-election. Fitzgerald has served on the council since winning a special election in 2012.



Bubier, who owns a small business, said he is running to help the town in which he was born and raised.

“My motto on this attempt is we’re all in this together,” he said. “I think that it’s important to take part.”

Bubier said people continue to have financial struggles and that they need someone who is both approachable and committed to trying to help.

“I’m probably the easiest guy in Winthrop to find,” Bubier said. “I’m always about town. I don’t leave Winthrop.”

Bubier said Winthrop is, in his opinion, the nicest place to live in Maine because of its people, industry and landscape. He is running to preserve what is best about the community.

“It’s a wonderful place to grow up and a great place to live,” he said.


Bubier said one of the challenges facing the town is finding a new home for the volunteer Fire Department. The current station on Main Street is becoming increasingly cramped.

“It looks to me like that station is pretty darn small for the size of the town,” Bubier said.

Winthrop Fire Chief Dan Brooks earlier this month made an initial proposal to locate a new station next to the former Carleton Woolen Mills building on U.S. Route 202. Councilors approved spending to develop a design and gather information on the new station, which is expected to cost about $1.1 million.

Bubier said he supports the construction of a new station, but only at the right price.

There has been some disagreement about the location of the proposed station, but Bubier said the firefighters should decide what spot works best for them.

“They’re the ones that are going to have to live with it,” he said.



Caprara, too, thinks firefighters should make a decision on the location. She also supports building a new station as long as it does not increase taxes. Caprara, like the other councilors, thinks the cost of the new station could be absorbed without raising taxes with the retirement of debt. The project may have to be scaled back for budgetary reasons, she said.

“I will not vote to increase taxes on the citizens for a new fire station,” Caprara said. “People’s salaries and wages are not going up. People are kind of hanging on, still.”

Caprara, a lobbyist for the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, has served on the council since 1997. She is motivated to continue.

“I enjoyed being involved in local issues and being able to tackle local issues,” she said.

Caprara said the council has achieved a number of goals during her tenure, including a rebuilt home for the Police Department and a new home for Winthrop Rescue. The council also has enjoyed a good working relationship with the school board.


“We’ve improved our relationship there,” she said. “We work really well with them now.”

Caprara is married and has an 11-year-old daughter, Cayla, for whom Caprara is a soccer coach.

“I’ve just enjoyed over the years working with the people of Winthrop,” Caprara said. “Hopefully I can continue to do so.”


Cookson, too, is a longtime council member and has been its chairman. He will complete his 15th year at the end of December.

“I enjoy doing it even though at times it can be a thankless job,” Cookson said. “I still like doing it because I like giving back to the community somehow.”


Owner of a private investigation business, Cookson said the biggest issues facing the town over the next few years will be finding a landing spot for its trash. The town’s contract with the Penobscot Energy Recovery Company in Orrington will expire in the summer of 2018 and cannot be renewed because the company, which burns the trash to harness the energy, is going out of business.

“Everybody that’s having trash hauled to the Orrington plant … is going to have to come up with another way to deal with their trash,” Cookson said.

For Winthrop, that means finding a place to take two to three tractor-trailer loads every week.

Former Town Manager Jeff Woolston started looking for a solution, a process taken on by his replacement, Peter Nielsen, who was doing the same work at his previous post as Oakland’s town manager.

“He’s quite familiar with the issue,” Cookson said.

Cookson is “highly in favor” of a new fire station but, like the other candidates, only if it will not increase taxes. He said the town tried twice to pass bonds that would have created one building for all three departments — police, ambulance and fire — only to have them rejected. The town instead overhauled the police station, built a new ambulance station and now will build a new fire station. The total of those projects will dwarf what it would have cost to build one new building, Cookson said.


“I said we’d pay twice the amount,” he said. “That’s going to be about right.”

Cookson said most of the complaints about building the station on U.S. Route 202 stem from concerns about firetrucks turning directly onto the road, which is a major thoroughfare between Lewiston and Augusta. Cookson said plans instead call for a station entrance from the Carleton Woolen Mill driveway.


Jenkins served on the council for six years before stepping down at the end of her term in 2013.

“I decided I wanted to go in and put my two cents in again,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins, who has unsuccessfully run twice for state representative and once for state senator, said Winthrop has the same community feeling she enjoyed while growing up in New Jersey. She is anxious to put her political skills back to work for the town.


“I feel I have an ability to work with people and get people together,” she said. “We’re kind of torn between being a mill town and being a bedroom community or summer place.”

Jenkins said the town needs to find a way to spur economic development. She laments the loss of Community Service Telephone, a local telephone company that was on Main Street. The company was bought by FairPoint and the office closed.

“We have lost a couple of businesses we were really proud of,” Jenkins said. “We have real economic issues to address. Times are changing and they are changing fast.”

Jenkins said attracting business will mean supporting home-based, or cottage industries. She was attracted to Winthrop when Commtel was in place because Winthrop offered the latest in high-speed Internet, which allowed her to work from home.

“We’re losing ground on that front,” Jenkins said. “We need to at least be with the curve, if not ahead of the curve.”

There are a couple of businesses in town marketed through the Internet, Jenkins said.


“We need to grow that kind of thing,” she said.

If the town can attract businesses, the young families will follow, said Jenkins, who has two grandchildren in the Winthrop school system.

“I’m really thrilled we have schools staying ahead of the curve,” she said.

Jenkins agrees the town needs a new fire station, as long as it does not increase taxes, but is concerned about the location.

“There are people who think it’s the wrong place,” she said of the spot on U.S. Route 202. “I have been talking to other people who have concerns about that. I think we have to address that head on.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4

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