The reason I am running for mayor really comes down to two words: I care.

I care about Waterville. I care about the citizens of Waterville and their future. I’ve spent the last 13 years working to make Waterville a better place to live. Whether through my time with Waterville Main Street, on the City Council, or through my businesses Digital ImageWorks and Sweet People Productions, the vast majority of my effort has gone into bringing the community together. Throughout the years you could find me working on events such as the Parade of Lights, Harvest Festival, Hill ‘n the ‘Ville, Waterville Rocks!, community cleanups, and more. You may have also attended one of the concerts I brought to the Opera House, such as Taj Mahal, Robert Cray, Patty Griffin or Bela Fleck.

While I’m excited about the investment Colby and others have made in Waterville, I’m concerned about the fact that our schools are woefully underfunded. We rank in the bottom 15 percent in the state in terms of per-pupil spending. Not only are we shortchanging the children in our school system, but we are making it difficult to attract new families to Waterville.

I am also sensitive to the fact that property taxes are too high, especially for older residents on fixed incomes.

Many people can’t reconcile the idea that both of these things are true. The question is, how can we address both problems? Until we are able to do this, we are going to continue to have the same arguments year after year, pitting taxpayers against the school system and other public employees.

One thing I really hoped to accomplish by running for mayor is to move forward from the false narrative that the city and schools are being frivolous with taxpayer money. We’re extremely lucky to have a lot of talented and dedicated employees for both the city government and the school system. Contrary to what some may say, they’ve made a lot of sacrifices to help out with the city budget, and they will likely be forced to sacrifice more in the future unless there are big changes in Augusta. For that, they deserve our appreciation.

We are only going to solve the problems we are facing by coming together in good faith and having respectful discussions. We need to innovate and bring new ideas to the table or we are going to be fighting over these same issues when the next budget cycle starts.

With all due respect to my opponents, I am the most qualified person to guide Waterville through the next three years. My breadth of experience and innovative thinking make me the best person for the job. With the pace of development downtown, it will be important to have someone with broad experience dealing with the issues facing downtown businesses, and an historical perspective on what happened over the last 10 years. I believe the six years I served on the Waterville Main Street board of directors, including three years as vice president, along with the many years that my business was located downtown, give me the knowledge that will be needed to look out for the interests of all stakeholders.

My years of service have demonstrated my commitment to the future of Waterville. I believe that the people of Waterville are its greatest asset. I will encourage longtime residents and newcomers alike to shape the future of our city. If residents are invested in the city, and the city invests in its residents, with a shared vision for the future, we can achieve the goal of a prosperous, thriving Waterville for everyone.

Join me as we move Waterville forward and improve upon our many strengths to make Waterville the premier community in central Maine to work, play, and raise a family. A vote for Erik Thomas is a vote for the future of Waterville. Thank you.

Erik Thomas is a candidate for mayor of Waterville.

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