City Council candidates discuss the issues ahead – The Ellsworth American

ELLSWORTH — Four candidates for two open City Council seats will set the stage for local elections come Nov. 2. With no incumbents in the race, voters will elect two residents who both are new to public office, if not to local and state politics.
The four candidates are Casey Hanson, Edward Mathias Kamin III, John Linnehan and Steven O’Halloran. Hanson and O’Halloran are seeking local office for the first time. Kamin ran for City Council in 2019. Linnehan most recently ran in the 2020 Republican primary to represent Hancock County in the state Senate and is also a former City Council candidate.
The American asked the candidates about their backgrounds and priorities for the city, if elected. Here’s what they said.
Casey Hanson
How long have you lived in Ellsworth? I grew up in upstate New York, in a town about the size of Ellsworth. After finishing my medical training in the Boston area, my husband and I decided to move our family to Maine, and we were delighted to make Ellsworth our home in 2006. We found a welcoming community, good schools and access to lots of great activities for our kids and for ourselves. I am eager to give back to the community that has given my family so much over the past 15 years by serving on City Council.
What other positions have you held in the city, elected or otherwise, and for how long? While I have had the opportunity to engage in leadership roles in my professional life and in our school community (I am currently the president of the Visual and Performing Arts Boosters), this is my first experience with elected office.
Why did you decide to run? Cities thrive when citizens are engaged and willing to give their time and energy to serve their community. I have had the joy of living and working and raising two children in this city for the past 15 years, and I am grateful for: YMCA swim meets, school concerts, plays at the Grand, making puppets at the library, waterfront concerts at the Harbor Park and hours of fun at the Knowlton Park. I enjoyed taking my kids for ice cream at Morton’s Moo when they were little, and now I enjoy going to Morton’s Moo where they scoop ice cream for me. I love Ellsworth, and I would be delighted to do my part to help Ellsworth to grow and thrive, while maintaining its wonderful character.
What is your occupation? I am a family physician, and that gives me the great privilege to sit with individuals, every day, and listen to the stories of their lives, and their worries and hopes for the future. I love hearing about experiences and goals of others, and I think that skill will serve me well in the Ellsworth City Council. I also think 15 years of listening to people in our area gives me a unique and broad perspective about our values as a community.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the city? Our city is growing quickly, and I think the biggest challenge for the city is to guide that growth in a thoughtful way. It’s important that the City Council prioritize input from the citizens of Ellsworth, so that we make decisions that reflect the values and needs of the people who live here. Growth and change will happen, whether we want it or not, and it’s up to us to decide what Ellsworth will look like in the future. I envision a city with a thriving, walkable downtown, great restaurants, beautiful green spaces and excellent schools. I also think it’s important to make sure that the city remains an affordable place for families and individuals who want to live and work here.
What’s your personal priority, even if you don’t see it as the biggest challenge? My personal priority is to approach every decision with the goal that Ellsworth continue to be a great city where people want, and can afford, to live and work. My first child is off to college, and the second one isn’t far behind. I want to be part of an Ellsworth that is prepared to be a home for the next generation to thrive.
What do you think the council has done well in the past year? I appreciate that the City Council partners with local organizations to create positive change for the city. I have enjoyed eating at the Franklin Street Parklet, and I’m grateful that the City Council partnered with Heart of Ellsworth to offer that outdoor dining and meeting space. I was thrilled to hear, at the City Council meeting in September, that Frenchman Bay Conservancy has support from the City Council to create a trail along the river, behind the library. Partnering with local organizations can help us to make positive changes in Ellsworth without burdening taxpayers.
What’s the best way for the public to contact you? I am trying to knock on as many doors as I can, to learn more about what Ellsworth citizens are wanting from their City Council. I’m afraid I won’t make it to every door, so I would love to hear from anyone who wants to share their thoughts or ideas. Please email me at [email protected] or visit www.facebook.com/CaseyforEllsworth and we can set up a time to talk!
 
Edward Mathias Kamin III
How long have you lived in Ellsworth? I have lived in Ellsworth going on four years now.
What other positions have you held in the city, elected or otherwise, and for how long? I have supported the downtown Ellsworth business community by volunteering with the Heart of Ellsworth and have recently accepted a position on the advisory board for the Eagle’s Nest Clubhouse, an organization that provides mental health recovery and vocational rehabilitation programs.
Why did you decide to run? I’ve decided to make my home in Ellsworth because it’s a good place to start a business and a family, two of my goals in my mid-30s. I’ve noticed that although many younger adults are active in local community organizations, we have no representation in city government. I believe I could be a strong voice for young entrepreneurs and families on the council, and I am keen to listen to and represent all Ellsworth citizens.
What is your occupation? I am a winemaker, cidermaker and brewer by trade, and I’m starting a cidery in Hancock County this fall. I am also currently an independent contractor working with a great local building company, Arntzen Builders.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the city? Ellsworth must update its Comprehensive Plan to guide our opportunities and growth while incorporating the perspective of its citizens. We need to work together to answer questions like how much middle-income housing do we need and where, how can we support our local businesses, what role should our waterfront and green spaces play in increasing quality of life and property values, and how can we ensure that Ellsworth retains its character while it continues to grow? The state of Maine has a Growth Management Program that advises 10-year plan updates and the last one was completed in 2004. According to the state, more than 100 local municipalities and regions are participating in this program. Ellsworth needs to start this multi-year planning process immediately. Without a current plan, Ellsworth is vulnerable to legal challenges and missing out on grant funding opportunities that would provide property taxpayer relief.
What’s your personal priority, even if you don’t see it as the biggest challenge? My personal priority is to be as open minded to the concerns of my constituents as possible. I come to this nonpartisan office with a nonpartisan mindset. I am here to listen to those who feel they have no voice, and then to speak for them in council chambers.
What do you think the council has done well in the past year? The difficulty of running a city during a pandemic is apparent, but the council did an excellent job broadcasting their meetings in real time on multiple platforms and allowing for comment and ample participation by those who could not attend in person.
What’s the best way for the public to contact you? Via email at [email protected] or reach out on FB at Edward Mathias Kamin III for Ellsworth City Council.
 
John Linnehan
How long have you lived in Ellsworth? I was born in Ellsworth August 21, 1948, 73 years ago.
What other positions have you held in the city, elected or otherwise, and for how long? I have not held any other positions in Ellsworth.
Why did you decide to run? I decided to run because I am concerned with the loss of our constitutional individual freedoms and rights at all levels of government, including our city.
What is your occupation? I am a self-employed businessman and committed volunteer for various Christian ministries.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the city? Our property taxes are way too high. High taxes are definitely the biggest challenge facing our city.
What’s your personal priority, even if you don’t see it as the biggest challenge? My own personal priority is to review every single expense item in the city budget “line by line.” Then, I would propose reducing spending for “any and all” unnecessary budget expense items. Finally, I would propose a minimum of a 10 percent property tax reduction for every individual and business property owner in the city of Ellsworth.
What do you think the council has done well in the past year? The council has not done well as a group in the past year. In my opinion, it has not exhibited common-sense decision-making skills for the average citizen when it comes to protecting our individual constitutional freedoms.
What’s the best way for the public to contact you? I am available either by text, or call at (207) 460-4400, or by email at [email protected].
 
Steven O’Halloran
How long have you lived in Ellsworth? 57 years.
What other positions have you held in the city, elected or otherwise, and for how long? None.
Why did you decide to run? To seek fair and equitable treatment for all.
What is your occupation? Small business owner.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the city? Federal/state/county unfunded mandates.
What’s your personal priority, even if you don’t see it as the biggest challenge? To seek fair and equitable treatment for all.
What do you think the council has done well in the past year? Found ways to conduct city business through the pandemic.
What’s the best way for the public to contact you? Cell phone (207) 598-0111, office phone (207) 667-9310, email [email protected].
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