KATHERINE BOSS

Occupation: Public health practitioner

Katherine Boss

Education: Bachelor of Arts in biology from Mount Holyoke College, master’s degree in public health from Boston University

Family: Married to Sam Boss, children: Clara, 5, and Elliot, 2

Political experience: Auburn Planning Board; Auburn Strategic Planning Quality Subcommittee

Q: Why do you think you are the most qualified or best candidate for this seat?

A: I serve in Auburn city government as a Planning Board member, and as a member of the 2019 Strategic Planning group. I have on-the-ground experience aligning the daily work of city government with our long-term vision for the growth and success of our community. My work in public health focuses on complex social issues such as housing, obesity and food insecurity in Auburn and surrounding communities. I am an experienced facilitator and have worked with groups and individuals of all backgrounds to identify goals and define strategies for achieving and measuring success. I have years of experience managing large federal, state and local grants, and maintaining balanced budgets that create healthier communities.

Q: Please name three issues that you believe are critical to Auburn’s future, and how you would address them.

A: Three issues that are critical to Auburn’s future are improving our educational outcomes, strengthening our workforce to attract new businesses, and protecting our natural resources.

Education and workforce development are closely linked. We need to capitalize on the momentum of the new Edward Little building to strengthen our educational outcomes so that we attract families and young people. We need to better support teachers and school staff, and seek out evidence-based programming and curricula that support our diverse student body. I am excited that Auburn residents voted to invest in a new technical program in the new EL. Maine employers are desperate to find qualified workers to fill advanced manufacturing positions. If we are strategic and forward-thinking we can become a hub of industry that attracts businesses, creates high paying jobs, and strengthens our tax base.

In order to ensure that people who work in Auburn chose to live here, we need to protect our natural resources. The balance of urban and rural space is a defining and unique characteristic of Auburn, and is something that we should promote and preserve. As discussions on the Agriculture and Natural Resource Protection Zone continue, we need to prioritize protecting our drinking water supply and farmland so that we can produce more food locally and be self-sufficient.

Q: What do you like about the city budget passed this year, and what don’t you like?

A: I have knocked on hundreds of doors across all of Auburn and I hear the same concern: property taxes can’t go much higher. For this reason, I appreciate that the property tax rate was stabilized in this year’s budget. I am also glad to see that state revenue-sharing increased, though we need to continue to advocate for reinstating our historic levels. I am concerned about the city’s purchase of the Norway Savings Bank Arena, specifically because of the provision that a loan from the General Fund will be used to cover any deficit at the end of the fiscal year. I am eager to collaborate with other councilors and city staff to build a budget that keeps property taxes low while supporting the vision outlined in our new 2019 Strategic Plan.

BRAD FARRELL

Occupation: Tinsmith, steward at Bath Iron Works

Education: No response

Family: Husband, father of five

Political experience: No response

Q: Why do you think you are the most qualified or best candidate for this seat?

A: I believe I am the best candidate for this seat because I reflect the views of the common man and have a strong background in fighting for what’s right. As a steward at Local S6, I fight for our members’ rights and work capacity. I believe everyone should be treated fairly and with decency. Many of these candidates lose focus and forget about the hardworking people in this community. I plan to work hard for each and every person, fighting for their beliefs and freedom. Together, we can create positive, long-lasting change.

Q: Please name three issues that you believe are critical to Lewiston’s future, and how you would address them.

A: Income, affordability and population. As a working man with five children I understand budgeting better than most. Maintaining a sustainable income shouldn’t be a luxury. We need to plan to attract business to Auburn to grow our economy and increase job opportunities. In turn, being able to afford what we need to get by is equally as important. Being able to provide for our families requires affordable programs, facilities and amenities. Lastly, understanding the needs of our growing population. Growth is good, but must be sustainable. Through proper budgeting I believe I can weave a plan to carry us into a sustainable future.

Q: What do you like about the city budget passed this year, and what don’t you like?

A: I don’t like spending without a purpose. Public Works should be a priority as it helps our community expand. No more fancy spending without proper due diligence and a majority needs. It’s back to basics so we can grow our essential needs effectively.

BELINDA GERRY

Occupation: Auburn city councilor at-large and Maine Notary Public

Belinda Gerry, right, addresses the audience during the recent candidates forum in Auburn. On left is Matt Leonard. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Education: High school equivalent diploma (GED) and some elective, noncredit college courses

Family: My brother’s five children and their families and my pup companion, Pep E

Political experience: State representative from Auburn for three terms; seven nonconsecutive terms on the City Council; two years on the Androscoggin County budget committee; various boards and committees

Q: Why do you think you are the most qualified or best candidate for this seat?

A: In addition to council experience, I have also served three terms in the Maine Legislature representing Auburn. Being a supporter of term limits, I voluntarily stepped down to give someone else a chance to run and to focus on the City Council. That experience made me more aware and it is difficult to sneak much past me.

I am the best candidate for the at-large city councilor position because I don’t have a family with small children or work that may prevent me from giving my council and constituent activities full attention. I devote full time to my council responsibilities and to you. The task of maintaining Auburn’s unique quality of life for our residents, while withstanding attacks on the taxpayers is not for the faint of heart.

Q: Please name three issues that you believe are critical to Auburn’s future, and how you would address them.

A: Protect our taxpayers and rebuild their trust; protect the precious Lake Auburn Watershed; and protect our beautiful farmland agricultural zone.

The council, just as the legislature, is a place where there is relentless pressure to raise taxes. Most years I’ve had to vote no on the city’s budget. I will continue to be vigilant in keeping Auburn affordable, working with and inspiring my fellow councilors to search for other means to fund city services instead of relying solely on our property owners’ backs.

I will also push my council mates to be more accommodating to the public at council meetings and really listen to our constituents and value the input. I’ve objected to the short amount of time allowed individuals to speak. If councilors don’t have the time to do this, they shouldn’t run for office.

Some city officials are pushing to open Lake Auburn to development. This will benefit a very small few while threatening our cherished water supply. We have one of the best water resources in the country. Auburn is one of only a handful of American cities that is exempted from having to build very expensive water filtration systems. We’ll never lose that special exempt status unless we open the lake to development.

There is also a serious effort being pushed by city officials to open the agricultural zone to more development. This change in the ag zone will cause property tax increases, thereby forcing farmers off their land, if not done correctly. That will result in the beauty of Auburn being diminished as we lose farmland, and slowly turn our city into Portland and Lewiston.

I’m very concerned that the council has failed to authorize the creation of an Agricultural Commission to make recommendations to the Planning Board and city. This has been recommended by two ag zone citizen groups and one consultant study. In the absence of a commission, the important matter of protecting Auburn’s farmland and retaining Auburn’s beauty is being left to raw political forces.

Q: What do you like about the city budget passed this year, and what don’t you like?

A: The three things I liked about the budget were first, that the City Council kept most of their word regarding using additional revenue-sharing funds from the state to lower our property taxes. Secondly, we put $10,000 into the newly created Feeding Auburn micro-grant program to help lessen Auburn’s food insecurity. This assists nonprofits, food pantries and city-run groups to apply for small grants to help residents get the food they need. Lastly, the council and I rejected a proposal to raise the council and mayor’s salaries for future councils and mayors, supposedly as a means to encourage candidates to run for office. This election proved it wasn’t necessary.

What I didn’t like was that the manager presented the budget a little later than I preferred for us to do a really good job with it. Our budget and Capital Improvement Plan and proposed changes to the agricultural zone were not given enough attention. If we had more time, we likely would have saved the taxpayers more money and achieved a lower property tax rate.

MATTHEW LEONARD

Occupation: CEO, Military Talent Source

Matthew Leonard

Education: Master of Professional Studies in Political Management; Bachelor of Science in business studies; Associate of Arts in political science; Associate of Arts in psychology

Family: Dog, Aria

Political experience: None

Q: Why do you think you are the most qualified or best candidate for this seat?

A: I believe that I have a breadth and depth of experience that would serve all of the citizens of Auburn well on the City Council. I was born and raised in Maine in a poor, single-parent household and attended public schools. I understand the challenges that many of our citizens face in our community because I’ve lived it. I also served 21 years in the U.S. Navy retiring at the rank of senior chief petty officer. I served in many roles from providing medical care on the battlefield to a three-year tour at the Pentagon. I’ve represented the community as the president and CEO of a prominent business organization and, also founded and led a small business here in Auburn which has grown to having five full-time employees in addition to myself. From the 56% of children who receive free and reduced-price lunches in our schools to business owners, I understand the challenges that many of us face firsthand and most importantly, I have ideas on how we can improve our collective community’s future.

Q: Please name three issues that you believe are critical to Auburn’s future, and how you would address them.

A: Property taxes are too high. Business is too hard. We need new leadership.

Auburn’s property tax rate has ballooned over the last decade due to consistent and continued year over year spending. We have to reduce that trend. First, we need to renegotiate interlocal agreements with Lewiston based on fair usage rates. That will achieve nearly $2 million in savings for Auburn taxpayers. Second, we need to look at what we are paying for goods and services and ensure that we are paying a fair market rate. I’ve looked at the budget line by line and we are most certainly overpaying for goods and services. Third, the City Council needs to take more control over the budget process and ensure that the budget is not submitted at the last minute before a City Council vote for approval, is formulated based on current priorities and is simply not last year’s budget plus a percentage increase i.e. zero based budgeting. These three ideas and more collectively could achieve a 10% reduction in our budget without reducing services and without major restructuring.

Auburn has developed a bad reputation for doing business here because we make it too hard. From additional administrative and regulatory requirements to an uncertain permitting and code enforcement process we don’t appear to appreciate investment in our community the way I know our citizens truly do. The City Council should work with the city manager to develop a process that moves at the speed of business, not at the speed of government or an individual. Through ordinance and policy, we need to reduce duplicative permitting and inspection requirements that reduces the time requirements of business owners and, our talented city staff that will free them to invest more of their time in bringing investment to our community. In addition, by creating a transparent and streamlined process, including a proposed timeline, we can reduce uncertainty for those who wish to invest in our community and make Auburn attractive for new business.

It’s time for new leadership. What we are doing isn’t working. Property taxes are too high. Business is too hard. Our schools are failing. We need new people with actionable ideas to change the course that we are on so that we may achieve Auburn’s full potential. I believe that I have a breadth and depth of experience that can help in that effort.

Q: What do you like about the city budget passed this year, and what don’t you like?

A: If forced to say something positive about the city budget, I would say that a positive would be that property taxes have essentially flatlined the last three years. That said, property taxes are way too high and year over year spending has continued to increase at an unsustainable rate. Two things have prevented us from increased taxes lately despite the continued increased spending: unexpected increased municipal revenue-sharing and historically high development in Auburn. Should these two things change, or the economy takes a downturn, property taxes will skyrocket. We have to reduce the continued year over year spending increases and use our economic windfalls and successes to provide property tax relief for taxpayers. This is the way to improve our real estate market and keep rental rates affordable.

DAVID YOUNG

Occupation: Machine operator, photographer, Maine author

David Young

Education: Dexter Regional High School, 1972; University of Maine at Farmington, 1976

Family: Wife, Betty. Two daughters, three granddaughters and one grandson

Political experience: City councilor for 11 years, at-large for six years; past president of the Androscoggin Historical Society; past master of the Danville Junction Grange; Auburn School Committee

Q: Why do you think you are the most qualified or best candidate for this seat?

A: I have been on the Auburn City Council since 2009. It does not matter what I think, it is up to voters to say. Back in the 1980s, I was one of the two most qualified to serve on the Auburn School Board from Ward 4. I am going door to door, hoping that voters might share with me what they feel are the most important issues of today. I make time in my schedule for meeting people face to face to get feedback and ideas so I can represent the citizens of Auburn better. My goal is to reach everyone, but if I don’t get to speak with you, I welcome your questions and concerns via email/phone and I will respond as best I can. My wife and I have lived in the same home for more than 40 years, pay taxes and have worked in the same Auburn Ward 4 for the past 22 years.

Q: Please name three issues that you believe are critical to Auburn’s future, and how you would address them.

A: We need to be proactive by welcoming more people to live in Auburn (i.e. smartly grow our population). Our school test scores need to get better, or are we using the wrong test to measure what we are teaching? The Edward Little High School dropout rate is nothing to brag about. We know that only 50% of the people in Auburn have city water and sewer and we need to make sure that the public water is safe.

Q: What do you like about the city budget passed this year, and what don’t you like?

A: The budget came in with an increase. Auburn city councilors do not want higher taxes. We cut the city manager’s budget. We took on a little more risk by not replacing some snow removal equipment. We did not put money into the budget for repairs so we just might have a few problems on the time it takes to clear the roads.


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