BUCKSPORT — Nine candidates vying for three seats on the Town Council have differing opinions about whether the town should borrow up to $3 million for road work and spend up to $1 million to replace the municipal pool.
Both the Town Council election and the referendum questions about the roads and pool will be on the Nov. 5 ballot.
The Bucksport Enterprise and Regional School Unit 25 (RSU 25) hosted a candidates night Monday at the Bucksport High School library. Elm Street Congregational Church Pastor Stephen York moderated the forum.
Six residents are running for two three-year terms on the board. They include Rachel Paulaskas, Matthew Paulaskas, Kathy Downes, Edward Rankin Jr., Nancy Minott and Paul Rabs.
Two of the candidates will fill the seats of Paul Gauvin and Robert Carmichael Jr., whose terms expire in January.
Three residents are running to complete the remaining two years of Councilor David Kee’s term. Kee announced his retirement earlier this year. The candidates for the seat include Robert Carmichael Jr., Joseph Davanzo and James Morrison.
Bucksport voters will be asked during the Nov. 5 referendum whether they support borrowing up to $3 million for road repair.
The town charter requires all expenditures exceeding $250,000 be decided by residents.
Four candidates favor the road bond: Downes, Minott, Carmichael and Davanzo.
“We’re way behind, particularly in the roads out back,” said Carmichael. “We have some serious work to do and this is just the beginning. We’ve got to create a systematic approach to dealing with our roads.”
Four candidates oppose the road bond: Matthew Paulaskas, Rachel Paulaskas, Rankin Jr. and Morrison.
“I just had to replace my driver’s wheel bearing, so obviously there is an issue with the roads, but I’m going to have to say no,” said Rachel Paulaskas. “We just have to do it little by little. Why wasn’t excise tax used for it?”
Former town councilor and candidate Paul Rabs said he was “neither for nor against the road bond.”
“I don’t understand the basis for the $3 million road bond,” Rabs said. “Where is the plan? And has there been a vote?”
Candidates also were divided on the referendum question about whether to replace the Tim Emery Municipal Pool at a cost not to exceed $1 million.
If approved, voters would be authorizing the expenditure of up to $1 million for the design, bidding and construction.
Downes, Minott, Matthew Paulaskas, Rabs, Carmichael, Davanzo and Morrison said they favored the pool project.
“To my understanding the pool is going to be financed from the rainy day fund and that the pumping equipment is going to be reused,” Rabs said. “You can’t let it sit there. It will become a safety hazard or a mosquito pond.”
Candidates Rachel Paulaskas and Rankin are opposed.
“I think the pool’s a great thing for Bucksport to have to offer,” said Rankin. “But right now I say no. We need to get exact figures for full replacement costs and exact figures for fixing what’s already there. I would want to see exact figures to give to the voters.”
Candidates also had a couple of minutes to introduce themselves during the forum.
Morrison is a Bucksport native.
“My children have been raised here and gone on to be successes,” Morrison said.
“I have attended council meetings for around five years,” said Morrison. “I have a better attendance record than that of the now seated council.”
Morrison said he often has an “opposing view” and has no fear of standing up for his opinions.
“All citizens of the town need to be represented,” said Morrison, adding that if elected he would represent the citizens, not the town government.
Downes is originally from Castine and retired this year after a 27-year tenure as Bucksport town clerk.
“I’ve been involved in the community for a long, long time,” Downes said. “I did have an extremely hard time retiring.”
“I thought why not run and continue to be involved in the town that I love,” Downes said. “I’m a hard worker and I want to continue helping the citizens in the community.”
Minott is a former educator and was coordinator for Bucksport Heart and Soul.
Minott attended the University of Maine-Orono and settled in Bangor for 35 years, where she raised her two daughters.
After her partner died, Minott moved to Bucksport.
“It was like coming home,” she said. “Shortly after arriving, I became involved with Heart and Soul.”
Matthew Paulauskas said he is a New Jersey native but has lived in Bucksport off and on. He spent six years in the Air Force doing network engineering and is married to candidate Rachel Paulauskas.
“The reason why I think this is a worthwhile cause is because Bucksport is a worthwhile cause,” Matthew Paulauskas said. “It’s sort of an underdog. It’s a beautiful coastal town but no one thinks of it the way they do other beautiful coastal towns. It’s always been seen as a mill town.”
Rankin is the owner of Ed’s Automotive on Route 46. He and his wife, Jennifer, have five children between the two of them. Their children inspired Rankin to get involved in town affairs.
“There’s still a great potential for them to have a home here and earn a living here,” Rankin said.
Rankin is a 1995 graduate of Bucksport High School. He eventually moved to Florida after attending the University of Maine. Rankin worked as a first mate on a private yacht and traveled all over the world before returning home.
Incumbent Carmichael grew up in Bucksport and spent 27 years in the military and the last 16 years in the banking industry.
Carmichael said he had considered retiring from public service but changed his mind.
“As I talked to people around town, people that have been really energized and passionate about things going on in Bucksport,” Carmichael said. “They urged me to reconsider. A reasonable approach is what I bring to the council.”
Brooklyn, N.Y., native Joseph Davanzo is a retired postal worker and volunteers for many organizations, including Friends in Action, the Red Cross and the Emmaus Homeless Shelter. Davanzo also belongs to the Knights of Columbus in Bucksport and is a Master Gardener.
Rachel Paulauskas is a Memphis, Tenn., native.
“I wanted to become part of the Town Council to have more women and have more diversity,” Paulauskas said. “The council does a lot for the town.”
The candidate said her husband was smart to bring her to Bucksport in June when there was no snow on the ground.
“When we first got here, everything closed down so early and I was like ‘Oh my God, what did you move us to?’”
But now, there always seems to be something going on in Bucksport, Paulauskas said.
“Whether it’s a big corporation or a small business, everyone is taken care of,” she said.
Former councilor Rabs is a paid on-call member of the Bucksport Fire Department.
He and wife Leslie have lived in Bucksport for 12 years.
“The people here, the way the town is run, the services, the volunteer organizations, it’s just been an inspiration to us,” Rabs said. “It’s everything.”
Rabs said he is retired from a four-decade career “in the private sector,” including the past 20 years doing sales and sales management.