Originally published in Castine Patriot, October 25, 2012
Two candidates vie for open Castine selectman’s seat
by Sharon Bray
Gus Basile’s second term on the Board of Selectmen is expiring. He is running for re-election against challenger Gordon MacArthur.
On October 10, both men were asked the same set of questions. In addition, two other local races—one seat on the Witherle Library Board of Trustees and one seat on the school committee—are also open with only one candidate seeking to fill each spot.
Constantine “Gus” Basile said he is running for reelection to the board of selectmen “because I am committed to the town and want to see it prosper.”
“We are a good team even though we all have different styles,” Basile said of the current board, which includes Peter Vogel and David Unger.
He said they all work with the town’s various committees. Basile has attended meetings related to the fire and rescue department and for the harbor committee.
He is pleased with the expansion of Castine Fire Department to include a first responder system since Bagaduce Ambulance Corps was dissolved late last year.
Basile recounted one way he has worked to try to keep local taxes down is with the harbor committee to set mooring prices in a way that has users carrying that cost instead of taxpayers. The town budget continues to cover docks and other services related to the harbor.
He said selectmen hold many meetings with town committees in the process of developing their budgets. Town Manager Dale Abernethy and Finance Officer Karen Motycka also play key roles in that budget process, Basile noted.
The town’s continued infrastructure improvement is a major project facing selectmen over the next few years, and Basile said managing that project is the biggest job he would face if re-elected.
“We have to keep taxes as flat as possible,” Basile said.
Another goal for selectmen, Basile stated, is to “accomplish zoning and subdivision ordinances that people can live with” and have more citizen input in developing.
He said he is pleased with the improved relationship between the town and Maine Maritime Academy, noting that for the past tax year, MMA paid the town $100,000 in lieu of property taxes.
Based on his six years of experience on the board, “people always know I’m saying what I mean.” In addition to doing research before making major decisions, Basile noted his “ability to speak my mind.”
Gordon MacArthur said he is running “to give voters an alternative to the present selectmen…Change from time to time is good.” He added, “I feel things, perhaps, could be done differently.”
He would bring to the board 23 years of experience in town government in Vermont towns that are somewhat larger but quite similar to Castine. He has chaired school and select boards and served as a tax appraiser.
MacArthur’s career background is in civil engineering related to highways. He said he would like to apply that to Castine’s infrastructure project, which involves “many things I’ve worked on.”
“Main Street will be a hot button issue,” MacArthur stated. “Some people came here because they love Castine just the way it is…selectmen must make decisions about what Main Street will look like, and I’d like to be an active participant in that.”
He is also interested in the process of updating zoning ordinances. “The approach so far has been a good one,” he said. “Now we have to let the citizens decide.”
He sees a number of dissenting opinions related to zoning and said the selectmen should “take an active role in sorting out those opinions.”
MacArthur said the recent public hearing was disturbing because of some verbal attacks on the zoning subcommittee. “The up-front people should be selectmen, not members of the zoning committee.”
The formula for economic development, according to MacArthur, is “to make the town attractive to year-round residents,” especially to younger people.
Since he moved here in 2003, MacArthur said he has seen a significant decline in the number of Main Street houses occupied year-round.
Other concerns MacArthur raised include a formula for payment in lieu of taxes, the amount of “protected lands” owned by trusts, and clear guidelines for all committees and boards.
Two run uncontested for library, school committee
Mary Appleman is running for re-election as a trustee for Witherle Memorial Library.
A resident of Castine since 2004, Appleman said she believes all citizens “should volunteer with the town where they live.”
As an English major, she found library service a good fit. She has provided expertise and insight from her career related to financial management.
Since she is the only trustee who takes shorthand, Appleman has been a valuable secretary at meetings.
Kathryn MacArthur said she is ready for a second three-year term on the School Committee and said she will continue seeking “the solution to finding responsible monetary expenditures for our school,” while keeping in mind the town’s struggling economy. She had also served a year on the town’s finance committee before it was dissolved.
MacArthur also brings to the committee her experience as the parent of two Adams School children.
On the future of keeping Castine’s small elementary school open, MacArthur said she believes that the school is one way to “draw more year-round, young residents” as part of “a viable town and community.”
She has lived in Castine since 1992 and in 2000 married a Maine Maritime Academy student who had returned to complete his degree after eight years of active Coast Guard service.