Ed Glaser (Photo by Ethan Andrews)
Ed Glaser (Photo by Ethan Andrews)
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Midcoast voters overwhelmingly favored two state ballot questions — a $105 million transportation bond and a constitutional amendment to allow people with physical disabilities to use alternative methods to sign citizen initiative petitions. Several towns added local questions to the ballots.

K N O X   C O U N T Y

Appleton


In an uncontested race, voters elected Danielle Gould to fill a vacancy on the Select Board. The seat has been vacant since June when Selectman Heather Wyman resigned the day after the annual town meeting, according to a town official.

Camden

Voters overwhelmingly approved a marijuana licensing ordinance that creates a town process for permitting two lowest tiers of adult-use (recreational) marijuana cultivation businesses. The vote formalizes a licensing process for a sentiment approved by voters at the annual town meeting in June. Camden does not currently allow adult-use retail facilities, so growers, for now, would have to sell out of town. The vote was 694-217.

Selectman Bob Falciani likened it to establishing a process for issuing a liquor license and noted that the process could be applied to other marijuana-related businesses that have not yet been approved by voters. “We didn’t want to rewrite the licensing ordinance if and when the town were to approve [medical or adult-use marijuana] retail,” he said. Jeremy Martin, the town’s planning and development director, said the ordinance was a way to test the waters: “The idea was to get the town's flavor for adult use — take something to voters that was somewhat benign.”

The state recently completed its rulemaking for adult-use marijuana licensing and will start accepting applications December 5. Camden is one of 27 municipalities to pass local ordinances in anticipation of the new industry. David Heidrich of Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy said many municipalities opted to wait until the state rules were in place before broaching the subject of adult-use. “Some communities have been eager to advance this,” he said. “Others have been more reticent, I suppose.” Among those that are getting a head start, the ordinances have created a patchwork of locally specific laws.

Rockland

In a four-way race for two seats on the City Council, Rockland voters re-elected Councilor Ed Glaser and picked newcomer Nate Davis to fill the seat previously held by Amelia Magjik, who stepped down in September in advance of plans to move out of state. In the open election (all registered voters were asked to pick two candidates), the final tallies were: Glaser-646, Davis-574, Donald Robishaw Jr.-477, and Ian Emmott-366.

Davis said one of his top priorities is to address Rockland’s well-publicized housing shortage. To that end, he supports reducing minimum lot size and frontage requirements to better match existing housing and encourage building in areas that are within walking distance of services. That idea received a backlash including a lawsuit against the city, but Davis believes it is worth another look. When he and his wife moved to Rockland in 2013, they were able to find a house a short walk from the water and downtown, but he doubts that would be as easy today. He supports the idea of encouraging apartments, either through renovation or new construction. “I don’t mean towering monstrosities that dwarf the landscape, but apartments are often more efficient to construct, more efficient to live in. But again, that’s not an instant thing. We can’t just pull these levers and cause developers to build these things. It’s more about creating [conditions] that allow them to happen.”

Davis didn’t see the 2019 election as having a single dominant issue, and in light of relatively uncontentious recent times at City Hall, he doesn’t see the election as a crossroads event. “It didn’t have the character of an enormous struggle for the soul of the city,” he said. He noted that his predecessor, Magjik, held similar views on many topics. “I kind of represent continuity,” he said.

Glaser, who will be serving his second term, said the outcome of the election might not mark a pronounced change, but he noted that the more progressive candidates carried the day, which could be a sign of the way the city is headed. The former harbormaster and “semi-retired” boatworker joined the council after a chaotic period for the city government. He was one of a number of longtime city employees who were either fired or had their positions phased out. He ran for a seat on the council in hopes of restoring order, or at least the appearance of order, to city government.

“If there’s a certain sense of harmony, even if we don’t act on things quite the way people want us to,” he said, “viewed by anybody on the outside, it looks like a place where people are trying to get along.”

With respect to Rockland’s well-publicized housing shortage, Glaser said the conversation should extend beyond the city limits, since surrounding towns increasingly are bedroom communities of Rockland.

A harbor management plan, Tillson Avenue redevelopments, the possibility of moving City Hall, encouraging renewable energy, banning synthetic pesticides, staying on the vanguard of progressive marijuana policy and making Rockland a more accessible city are other questions the next council will face, he said, along with some unknowns: “The issues of the next three years aren’t even on the table at the moment.”

In Tuesday’s elections, School Board members Chelsea Avirett and Gerald Weinand were re-elected without challenge.

Rockport

Voters approved a $1.63 million municipal infrastructure bond 324-185. The 2.2-percent interest 10-year bond will pay for $827,000 of road paving on Park, Old Rockland, South, Gurney, Mill and Camden streets, and Beech Hill Road; $162,000 for the town pier; $60,000 for exhaust systems at the public safety and public works buildings; $15,000 for a fire suppression system for the town vault; $114,000 for paving at the public safety building, town office and harbor; and $250,000 for sidewalks on Russell Avenue, Village Corner, and West, Rockville and Main streets.

Union

By an almost two-to-one margin, 251-139, Union voters approved investing in an array of 128 solar panels to power municipal buildings. The system, by Union-based Montana Solar, will be installed on the roof of the public works building and will power the town office complex, public works buildings and town recreational areas, including tennis and basketball courts. Town officials expect it to last 25 years or more and, at a cost of $70,000, to pay for itself in 10 years.

Additionally, they approved amendments to the town’s land use and subdivision ordinances related to cluster development. Votes were 205-159 (land use ordinance) and 217-150 (subdivision ordinance).

W A L D O   C O U N T Y

Belfast

In the city’s lone contested City Council race, Brenda Bonneville outmatched Ridgely Fuller for the Ward 3 seat, 961- 543. The Ward 3 race between two political newcomers was generally regarded as the latest referendum on a $500 million land-based salmon farm proposal by Nordic Aquafarms, which Fuller had publicly opposed. The salmon farm proposal is not expected to come before the council again, but several sitting councilors endorsed Bonneville, a low-key supporter, as a hedge against continued debate about –the project. Outgoing five-term Ward 3 Councilor Eric Sanders was elected mayor on Nov. 5. He ran unopposed to fill the prominent but mostly ceremonial seat vacated by Mayor Samantha Paradis, who, after a tumultuous first term, did not seek re-election.

Ward 4 Councilor Mike Hurley was re-elected to a sixth term. Hurley, who was mayor of Belfast from 2000 to 2008, has run unopposed in every election since he upset incumbent Councilor Jan Anderson in a three-way race in 2009. Regional School Unit 71 board members Caitlin Hills and Charles Grey were re-elected without opposition.

Prospect

Prospect voters re-elected Diane Terry but not in the usual way. Terry, a former selectman, had retired at the annual town meeting earlier this year but returned and ran unopposed to fill a vacancy after Selectman Clayton Emery stepped down in September, midway through his first term. Emery was elected in 2018; Terry will serve the remaining 17 months of his three-year term.

L I N C O L N   C O U N T Y

Boothbay

Boothbay approved two local ballot questions. According to the Boothbay Register, a charter revision related to the sewer district passed 354-90. Voters also authorized selectmen to seek a federal grant to upgrade Clifford Park, 401-58.

Damariscotta

Damariscotta voters approved five local questions related to medical and adult-use marijuana, including a comprehensive land use ordinance, medical marijuana licensing ordinance, comprehensive land use regulations for adult-use marijuana, an adult-use marijuana licensing ordinance, and amendments for adult-use marijuana licensing to include edible marijuana sales.

According to David Heidrich of the state Office of Marijuana Policy, Damariscotta set these ordinances to take effect on January 5 contingent upon the state adopting its rules, which has since happened.