2017-10-20 / Letters

Writers weigh in on candidates, issues

To the editor:

I would like to encourage the voters of Scarborough to support and vote for Peter Hayes for town council.

Peter brings a mind for business to the council. Because of his business background he is an excellent resource as we move forward with long range financial planning associated with the new comprehensive town plan.

He is fair and rational in his decision making. He has a keen eye for the big picture as well as looking out for the little guy.

Peter also has a voice of encouragement for us to be more inclusive and transparent as he governs our towns business.

I love his passion to do the right thing for our town and citizens.

Robert Lynch

To the editor:

I am voting no on the public safety building. While I support this new facility in principle and I believe the need is very clear, I am opposed to funding this project until we gain better control of our debt.

Scarborough already has the highest per capita debt of any town in Maine. At year-end 2017, our town debt was $91.6 million. This equates to $4,653 per person.

With the new bond issue, our town debt will be approaching $110 million, $5,586 per person. Compared to all other municipalities in Maine (with populations 10,000 or more), only Portland and Bangor have per capita debt levels approaching this level, and both are below our current and projected level.

Portland has $4,416 debt per capita and Bangor (including a $50 million arena) has $4,345. No other city or town in Maine has per capita debt higher than $3,000.

How did this happen? Scarborough has used debt to fund small items each year which other towns keep in their operating budgets. This has resulted in each time we do a big project like the high school renovation or Wentworth, we get to a new normal on our debt level and never bring it back down.

Our debt was in the $30-35 million range in the late 90s, until the $28.6 million high school expansion pushed it into the $63-68 million range in the early 2000s. It then jumped up to over $90 million with the $35.6 million Wentworth project in 2013, where it has remained.

We are in this position because the town failed to forecast, prioritize, and budget its financial needs to schedule big capital projects effectively.

We simply must act now to lower our total debt in the years leading up to vital bond issues so we are ready and able to fund the right things at the right time.

Our huge debt load has mortgaged our future as a town. Implementing the public safety building project now would only add to this burden which must be resolved first.

Our police and fire departments have waited a long time for this building. There are many reasons to go forward with it now, including interest rates and deferred maintenance. But as this bond brings our total town debt up over $100 million, we will go beyond what bond raters consider prudent in terms of annual debt service as a percentage of total town budget.

The future is uncertain. No one can predict when the next economic downturn or major hurricane will hit. We simply cannot be standing at the precipice when or if they do.

Susan Hamill

To the editor:

Three years ago I drafted a letter on behalf of Peter Hayes for his successful inaugural run on the Scarborough Town Council.

During his term, Peter has dedicated countless hours to town business, on behalf of the citizens of Scarborough. There is no substitute for on the job experience and learning the drill down details of all the strategic matters that affect the town.

Peter’s character and integrity have deep family roots going back generations here in Maine. Matters of community service and concern for others are part of Peter’s DNA. I have witnessed first hand, a good neighbor who shows up when people need a helping hand. Put simply, this man is a high character individual.

That said, many of the current issues facing the town of Scarborough require a level of talent and leadership beyond hard work and dedication. Peter is a nationally respected thought-leader in the healthcare industry – with intellectual curiosity and ability going back to his days at Bowdoin College.

Peter Hayes has a unique skill set offering the town rare leadership abilities.

Also, in the past three years, our local communities and national political landscape have seen significant change. We have all watched this play out in the press and media. Peter Hayes has always been a person willing to listen to the concerns of all of our people. As citizens of Maine, we need our elected representatives to work together with intelligence and common sense. In the business of government, nothing comes easy these days. In essence, we need good people to step up and serve.

I encourage you to review Peter’s record, check out his dedication to the town, and get to know the candidate. This man is all about bringing people into the conversation and the larger dialogue. In these times, Peter Hayes is a man of integrity, dedicated to serving his neighbors and the town of Scarborough.

Thank you for your consideration of this worthy candidate.

Maurice Harmon

To the editor:

I first met Peter and his family almost a decade ago when our sons were in the same second grade class and became fast friends. Peter’s support of our town and of our schools and students was apparent from the day I met him. For example, when Community Services needed youth soccer coaches, Peter partnered with my husband to coach for several years. Peter has always been an active Scarborough partner: He has frequently volunteered for school field trips and he is often hosting and cooking for cross country team dinners, flipping burgers at the high school snack shack and volunteering at school fundraisers and cheering kids on.

Peter’s caring, calm and inclusive manner with our kids, is the same disposition I’ve witnessed with his constituents during his first term as a town councilor. His intelligence, diligence and knowledge makes me confident in his leadership. I’ll be voting for Peter again, on Nov. 7 and I ask you to join me in supporting Peter Hayes for Scarborough Town Council.

Karen Bradbury Drapeau

To the editor:

With the negativity and divisiveness in today’s world, what matters most to me when voting for local officials is finding someone capable of rising above the fray.

I want to know they will conduct themselves in a manner that displays integrity, compassion, fiscal responsibility and bi-partisanship. I want representation from individuals who still value the simple things like please and thank you, who return phone calls and who would be the type of neighbor I would enjoy living alongside. I want someone who cares just as passionately for the elderly as they do for our schools and who isn’t afraid to fight for both. I want representatives who can look at challenging issues and not immediately rush to traditional solutions like raising taxes or creating ordinances without first seeking alternatives, people willing to roll up their sleeves and dig deeper.

Many are frustrated with politics. While it may seem like voting out incumbents is the solution, sometimes the most frustrating things are the result of a 4-3 vote. I hope that whoever is elected this fall will change the composition of the council so that it no longer feels preordained how votes will be cast before an issue is even brought up, something that I believe creates a feeling of helplessness in constituents who wonder if their voices are even heard.

I believe electing independent leaders will make for a better Scarborough and I do hope that two of the leaders we elect will be incumbents Peter Hayes and Kate St. Clair. While I haven’t decided where my third vote will go, I encourage everyone to do their research as this election could determine a critical swing vote that is influential in dictating the future direction of our town.

Ami DeRienzo

To the editor:

In recently hearing about Scarborough’s Planapalooza, the Environmental Club of Scarborough (ECOS) came to the realization that this would be a great opportunity to fight for our ideas concerning environmental issues in our town.

ECOS is a passionate and enthusiastic club at Scarborough High School comprised of youth activists seeking to be environmental leaders in our community through weekly recycling, lunchroom composting, organic gardening, and other educational projects.

In addition to our numerous efforts to make Scarborough High School greener, we are eager to fight for environmental solutions outside of our school, in the greater Scarborough area. This new plan for our town has sparked our interest because of the opportunity for positive environmental change that can come out of this. In today’s world, millions of Americans are starting to see damaging climate repercussions from wildfires and record high temperatures to increased viruses, heat related deaths, heavy precipitation, and excessive cyclone activity.

All of these indicators are directly linked to human activity, specifically from an increasing amount of fossil fuel emissions. When fossil fuels are burned, the gases released create an invisible blanket around our planet, trapping heat from the sun and causing earth’s temperatures to rise.

The most widespread consequences of this process are rising sea levels and the increased acidity of the sea itself, as well as dramatic weather patterns. Additionally, the excess carbon dioxide dissolving in our oceans is also creating a highly acidic and inhabitable environment for sea life.

Furthermore, rising temperatures lead to excessive moisture evaporating from land, forming clouds that travel to distant locations to rain. Global warming has raised temperatures so severely, that it has caused irregular weather patterns, including record breaking rainfall, severe droughts, and devastating hurricanes. In this current time of such environmental instability in our country, it is crucial that we do everything that we possibly can to preserve the natural systems of this planet, for our future generations.

As we observe such severe and negative changes in our environment, our club has made the following proposals for our town to fight against these issues:

 Increased solar power: By putting up solar panels on our public building or schools, we limit our usage of fossil fuels, and switch our sources of energy to something more safe and renewable. This is also very economically beneficial to our town because not only will we eventually save money over time as fossil fuels become more and more expensive, but we are also eligible for solar rebate programs, so we will be able to make money off of the excess solar energy that we sell back to the energy grid. For more information, visit www.environmentmaine.org/programs/mee/go-solar.

 Educational community garden: By starting an organic community garden, we not only educate the public about the benefits from organic gardening, but we can also help educate everyone about saving our dying bee and butterfly populations and show them how to incorporate gardening into saving those species.

 Educational projects in our schools: In this time of such environmental issues seen throughout our country, it’s essential that we teach our youth about these issues and what we can do to fight against this. Many organizations, including the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) goes to public schools all over the country to educate students about climate change and the steps that we can take for prevention. For more information, visit www.acespace.org/assembly.

Overall, we hope that when you think about the changes that we want to make in this town, that you will consider the future of our youth and the future of the natural environment around us. We are so privileged to experience the beauty of this town around us and we certainly hope that you will do anything that you can to help preserve these natural resources that our community depends on. Please help us fight for the future of our environment and for our forthcoming generations.

Ryan O’Leary
Environmental Club of Scarborough:

Return to top