Six candidates – including two incumbents – are vying for two seats on the Sanford City Council.

The race features a mix of residents who have long been active in local politics and newcomers looking to give back to the community.

Incumbents John Tuttle Jr. and Victor DiGregorio are being challenged by Jeremy Mele, Christopher Signore, Robert Stackpole and Richard Terril. The winners will serve three-year terms.

Sanford residents on Nov. 8 also will elect a mayor and two School Committee members. Mayor Thomas Cote is running unopposed for a second term. Sitting school board members Scott Sheppard and John Roux are running unopposed for three-year terms.

Tuttle, 65, served as a selectman for a decade and in the Legislature from 1979 to 2014 before being elected to the Sanford City Council for a one-year term. During his time in Augusta, Tuttle missed working directly with Sanford constituents, he said. For the past 30 years, he has held constituent hours at his home every Sunday.

Tuttle said he would like to continue to focus on economic development if re-elected. He said 60 percent of city revenue is generated through property taxes on single-family homes, placing a burden on people trying to stay in their homes.

“The key is to get industry back into the town to expand the property tax,” he said.

DiGregorio, who is finishing his first term on the council, did not respond to interview requests. He previously served as a Town Meeting and Finance Committee member. DiGregorio drew attention in Sanford earlier this year when he led a last-minute campaign against the municipal budget, which goes to a public vote.

DiGregorio, who ran unsuccessfully for the Maine House District 19 seat, was charged earlier this year with six counts of making unsworn falsification to the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Elections Practices and one count of theft by deception. The Maine Attorney General’s Office alleged he falsely signed election forms while trying to obtain Maine Clean Election Act funds. DiGregorio denied the allegations. He is expected to appear in court Monday.

Mele, a 22-year-old college student and librarian, is making his first run for public office. He said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders inspired him to get involved in local politics as a way to give back to the community.

Mele said he is interested in supporting the working class and protecting the environment. He supports a major solar farm in Sanford that was recently approved by the council and praised the temporary and permanent jobs it will bring to the city. He would also like to address concerns from residents about roads that aren’t being repaired.

“As I’ve been out and meeting people, they’re stressing to me that they feel their tax dollars aren’t being used in the most effective way. They’re not really seeing any benefit from the money they’re spending,” he said. “You want to make sure people are being looked after by their city government. I’d like to lend my perspective to see if I can help the council bring solutions to some of these issues.”

Signore, 48, also is making his first run for public office. The father of four said he was prompted to run for City Council after listening to an interview with Cote at Curtis Lake Christian Church in which the mayor asked people to get involved to help the city. As a single-family homeowner, Signore said he shares the concerns of many residents that property taxes are too high.

Signore said as a councilor he would support efforts to increase revenue in the city to lower residential taxes. He would also like to see what can be done locally to address the ongoing opiate epidemic in the city.

“I’m a listener and not a politician. I don’t have my own agenda,” Signore said. “My goal is to be part of something greater than myself that helps the residents of this city.”

Stackpole, 62, served on the Charter Commission and spent 15 years on the School Committee, including 13 years as chairman. He is running for a council seat because he is not satisfied with the implementation of the new charter, which incorporated Sanford as a city in 2013.

“The thinking behind the charter and incorporating as a city was to increase economic opportunities within the community. I don’t see that enough work has been done to increase economic opportunities within the community,” he said. “I think the knowledge I would bring to the council would be invaluable in maximizing the opportunities the new charter presents.”

Stackpole said Sanford residents cannot continue to shoulder the majority of the city’s tax burden.

“I think my overall goal is to help make Sanford an affordable place for people of all ages to live,” he said.

Terril, 55, has lived in Sanford for 25 years, but has grown frustrated with the current City Council and the way it spends money. He said the council’s focus needs to be on attracting businesses to the city to broaden the tax base and take the burden off of residents.

“I don’t feel the existing council has an accurate ear on the community. They’re out of touch and I feel they operate on old-school politics that take care of their crony base and that’s it,” he said. “I can’t be everything to everybody, but I’m not necessarily coming with that style of agenda.”

After many conversations with current councilors, Terril said, he believes it is time for some new blood on the council.

“I’ve heard enough, I’ve seen enough and I’m ready to serve the community,” he said.

 

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