Three Winthrop residents will be on the Tuesday ballot to compete for a term that runs through the rest of the year. The death in December of Councilor Ken Buck Sr. necessitated an election.

One candidate is his widow, Barbara Buck, who has been serving on the council on an interim basis since his death. The other two are James King, a retiree from the nonprofit sector who has served on various town committees; and Aaron White, an emergency medical technician with the Winthrop Ambulance Service who is pursuing graduate studies to work as a physician’s assistant.

The election for the six-month term will be held Tuesday, when the state primary elections also will be held. Then in November, town voters will be asked to elect a council member to serve a three-year term.

In interviews, each candidate expressed some version of the opinion that Winthrop needs more economic development, and each agreed that the town’s older residents are increasingly at risk. But the candidates differed on what they saw as the council’s role in finding solutions to those problems.

Buck, who works for the state Department of Administrative and Financial Services, said she is running because she has grown fond of municipal service since taking her husband’s seat on the board.

“I want to help the people, to keep the taxes low, to keep the businesses downtown,” she said of the reasons for her candidacy.

Buck, who is 61, was one of three councilors who recently voted against the $6.28 million municipal budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, which is up 6 percent from the current year’s budget. Asked about that decision, she said she would have liked to trim some sections of the budget, but declined to identify any of them.

“The older people in town need help with taxes,” she said.

If elected, Buck said, she would encourage more cooperation between the council and the Winthrop Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce to encourage more businesses to set up shop in town. She also supports the town’s youth programs, and said she would like more money to flow to those offerings, particularly for children who need scholarships to afford them.

While describing Winthrop as a “fantastic community,” James King, who is 60, pointed to the poor state of the town’s roads and the relative difficulty pedestrians encounter when trying to get around town as reasons to invest more in infrastructure.

Mobility is a challenge for older residents, King said, so quality sidewalks and crosswalks are becoming increasingly important for the aging population, as well as children who need to walk to school and anyone else who wants to be active.

“I’m not as physically quick as I used to be, and yet I still want to go out and participate in outdoor activities,” he said. “We need to make sure our infrastructure meets the needs of citizens. That includes safe streets and safe sidewalks and a lot of public facilities like that.”

While King opposes raising taxes unnecessarily or pricing citizens out of their communities, he said he would like Winthrop to “make targeted investments that can generate much higher return per dollar and have much more of a visible and positive effect in the community. We have to put some resources towards economic development, public relations.”

Having worked around the country for various nonprofit organizations, King added, he would bring a breadth of experience to the council.

Both King and White said the empty buildings and factories around town should be marketed to businesses that could create local jobs, and that the town should consider hiring an economic development official.

White, a Winthrop native who is 30, said he would like the town to focus on “sustainable economic growth” and prevent its tax rate from continuing to rise incrementally, as it has in the last few years. The tax rate has been a challenge for residents on fixed incomes, White said, and the current rate of growth ultimately could prove too much for those residents to afford.

If Winthrop residents vote to approve the school budget set by the council earlier this week, the projected tax rate for 2017 will be $15.84 per $1,000 in valuation, which is 56 cents higher than this year’s tax rate. At that rate, a resident with $100,000 of valuation would owe $1,584 in property taxes next fiscal year.

To that end, White said, the council should look at investing in more regional services over the next few years and cutting down on any redundant offerings in towns such as Winthrop, Manchester, Monmouth and Readfield. He does not propose any immediate cuts, however, and said he doesn’t know of any town services that are “overrepresented” in the current budget.

As a medical responder, White also highlighted the challenges that have been created across Maine by opiate addiction. On the local level, he said, the council could focus on reducing the stigma of drug addiction and pressure the state to expand the treatment opportunities available to drug addicts.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker


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