2018-05-18 / Front Page

Selectmen candidates are in place

Election 2018

Candidate profiles

Kennebunk Board of Selectmen

It’s a bumper crop of selectboard candidates this year in Kennebunk, both in terms of the number of positions open on the seven-member board, and the flood of candidates seeking voter approval for one of those seats.

With five candidates for three available spots, voters could very nearly turn over half the board, if they had a mind to. But with Dan Boothby not seeking another term, there is the guarantee of at least one new face, even if both incumbents in the race are returned to office.

Joining those incumbents — Ed Karytko and Shiloh Schulte — on the ballot are a former longtime selectman, Wayne Berry, the longtime head of the town’s economic development committee, Bob Georgitis, and a newcomer to town politics, Michael Green.

Candidate surveys for the June 12 election are listed below in alphabetical order.

Name: Wayne E. Berry

Age: 68

Address: Montgomery Court — Berry is a Kennebunk native.

Contact: Phone: 967- 2179

Occupation: Carpenter/ builder (company name not given).

Family: Married, with three grown children.

Education completed: Kennebunk High School.

Political experience: Kennebunk Light and Power District Board of Trustees (2012-2017); Kennebunk Board of Selectmen (2001-2011).

Organizations and activities: None listed.

Why are you seeking elected office at this time?

I am hoping to bring my years of experience in local governance to a place where we as a town can serve its citizens well and look toward future needs. I want to listen to concerns and be able to bring a consensus solution to our problems. Please call me for discussion about any specific issues you may have.

Top three issues:

1. Planning: Strategic, comprehensive, financial — We seem to lack a clear, concise vision on who we are and how we are to move forward as a town.

2. Severe infrastructure degradation — We need to improve the gateways into our community as they are an embarrassment.

Name: Robert “Bob” Georgitis

Age: 66

Address: Arbor Crossing (21 years) — a native of Orono, Georgitis lived in Topsham for 20 years before moving to Kennebunk.

Contact: None given. Georgitis said voters could reach him via a town-provided email address, if elected.

Occupation: Project Manager for Kasprzak Homes Inc. (21 years)

Family: Married Kerry Georgitis (43 years), with three adult children, three grandchildren.

Education completed: Bachelor’s degree in life sciences and agriculture (1974); worked toward a masters in community and environmental planning at the University of Rhode Island (1976-1978).

Political experience: None.

Organizations and activities: Chairman, Kennebunk Economic Development Committee (2001-present); President Kennebunk Economic Development Corporation; Member Kennebunk Comprehensive Plan Update Committee; Former member of Kennebunk Open Space Planning Committee, Kennebunk Downtown Redevelopment Committee, Multi-Town Beach Planning Committee, Topsham Planning Board, Topsham Historic District Commission, Maine Association of Conservation Commissions Executive Board, Maine Association of Planners. Also a former youth soccer coach.

Why are you seeking elected office at this time?

After many years of participating on a number of committees in Kennebunk, I have learned there are many important issues facing our community: Aging infrastructure, taxes, growth in public services, economic opportunities, affordable housing, sea level change, the Mousam River dams and renewable energy, to name a few, and it is difficult to highlight which are the top three.

Kennebunk is almost atypical in that not only are school decisions and funding handled by a separate board, but the same is true for Kennebunk’s sewer, water and our power. While the selectmen oversee all other aspects of the town, each of these districts impact each one of us financially. We need to continue to improve upon the slow managed growth that we have seen over the past 20 years and focus on how best to expand the tax base, job opportunities, affordable housing, while maintaining the services we all come to enjoy that makes Kennebunk stand out from our neighbors. I aspire to add my voice to the selectmen choir with civility and respect into the discourse needed on each issue to work forward to reach a positive consensus on what’s best for all in face of the fiscal constraints that challenge us all on a daily basis.

Name: Michael Green

Age: 47

Address: Burntwood Drive (six years) — Originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia.

Contact: michaelfrancisgreen@gmail.com

Occupation: Technology market researcher for Forrester Research (10 years).

Family: Married to Lisa Green. No children.

Education completed: Bachelor’s degree from Philadelphia College of Textiles and Sciences (now Jefferson University)(1993); Master of business administration with a marketing focus from Saint Joseph’s University (1998).

Political experience: None.

Organizations and activities: Secretary, Grant Farm Condominium Association; fly fisher, home brewer.

Why are you seeking elected office at this time?

My wife and I love Kennebunk. I have always been civic-minded and want to give back to the community where I have decided to put down roots. When I looked at the photo of the current selectmen I felt like I couldn’t identify with any of those men. Last I looked, I am the median age of this town and I want to make sure that a voice like mine is heard. I am at a point in my life where instead of hoping someone else addresses community issues, that maybe that person should be me.

Also, I come from a family that is politically involved. My grandfather was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania for 14 years, from 1949 to 1963. My uncle was mayor of Philadelphia from 1979 to 1983.

Top three issues:

1. Amtrak train stop — A train stop could bring more people to our town, with fewer vehicles. Would more sidewalks or bicycle paths around town help this cause? It’s possible. When I have taken the train from Wells to Boston I see a lot of the same faces. A train station can raise awareness of our town as a destination.

2. Dogs on beaches — I’m a dog owner and love that I can take my dogs to the beach year round. I also realize that everyone does not feel the same way I do. I feel the middle ground is to allow beach access for dogs as is, but all dogs should be on a leash. Dogs can still have beach access and people who don’t want to be greeted by a dog off leash won’t be. Dog owners should be responsible for cleaning up after their dogs.

3. Marijuana retail sales/social clubs — By not allowing retail sales I feel that Kennebunk is forfeiting their portion of the taxes collected by the state via sales. Consumers should dictate whether or not a retail store is a success, not the town — meaning people will vote with their money: If no one shops there, then the store will be short-lived. This shop doesn’t need to be on Main Street.

Name: Edward Karytko

Age: 74

Address: Alfred Road (23 years) — a native of Pennsylvania and later a resident of Vermont, Karytko has lived in Kennebunk 25 years.

Contact: Phone: 985-9009; ed@karytko.com.

Occupation: Retired from Spencer Press in Wells. Spent 30 years in the printing industry, from image assembler to quality control supervisor for newspaper publications and high quality color printing.

Family: Married to Susan Karytko (48 years), with four adult children and six grandchildren.

Education Completed: After U.S. Army service, earned an Associates degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Bucks County (Pennsylvania) Community College (1977).

Political Experience: Kennebunk Board of Selectmen (2015-present); Republican candidate for Maine House of Representatives, Dist. 8 (2014); Rice Memorial High School Board of Directors, South Burlington, Vermont (1990-1991);

Organizations and Activities: Member American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, Holy Spirit Parish, and St Martha Knights of Columbus.

Why are you seeking elective office at this time?

The primary reason that I am running for re-election as a selectman in the town of Kennebunk is that I want to continue to be part of the progress that has been made over the last three years. I firmly believe that we are in a better place now then we were when I took office three years ago. My goal has always been to make decisions in the best interest of all of the residents of Kennebunk, and I will continue to abide by that philosophy over the next three years. I stand by my record of asking the tough questions and expecting that we, as a town, keep our residents’ interests first. I hope that I have served the town of Kennebunk well and look forward to continuing to make our town an ever better, rewarding place to live.

Top Three Issues:

1. Roads and Infrastructure — For too many years, our roads and infrastructure in the town of Kennebunk have been put on the back burner. I believe that there is a direct correlation between the condition of our public roads, buildings, and recreational areas, and the perceived quality of our town. Too many roads are in disrepair. As a selectman, I have been at the forefront of implementing a crack sealing program to extend the life of our roads, to create a better way to quantify the condition of our roads, and to focus monetary resources to properly repair our roads. Our residents deserve the safety and comfort afforded by roads that are well maintained. The cost of maintaining our roads, buildings, and recreational areas is far less than having to replace them.

2. Tax Rate — Keeping taxes down is a problem for any board of selectmen. Here in Kennebunk, the town portion of the taxes accounts for only 25 percent of the total bill. The RSU 21 school district has a greater tax impact on the community at roughly 75 percent of the tax bill. From the town’s perspective, we need to make sure that every expenditure is examined carefully and that it fills a genuine need. Our police, fire and EMS, public works, and administration are the essential parts of our town government. We need to provide each department with the tools and resources necessary to provide the services we expect as cost efficiently as possible. The town of Kennebunk was just voted the safest town in Maine. I am and have been committed to advancing the quality of the services provided by each of our town departments without imposing an excessive tax burden on our residents.

3. Protecting Seniors — The town of Kennebunk is blessed to have a large senior population. At last count, over 50 percent of the Kennebunk population is 55 and older. Going hand-in-hand with the senior segment of residents is that many are on fixed incomes. As tax rates and other costs increase, available funds for essential items decrease. Keeping our seniors in their homes and a vibrant part of our community has always been and will always be a top priority. A majority of our volunteers are seniors. We need to strengthen our commitment to the local senior organizations and Town social services that provide so many services to our seniors. I have expressed many times that I think it is a shame that there are residents that have given so much to make Kennebunk such a wonderful Town and now find that they can no longer afford to live here.

Name: Shiloh Schulte

Age: 39

Address: Park Street (10 years) — native of Jericho, Vermont.

Contact: Phone: 502-0026; sschulte@kennebunkmaine.us.

Occupation: Biologist, Manomet Inc. (2009-present)

Family: Married to Shevaun Schulte (15 years), with two school-aged children.

Education completed: Bachelors degree in wildlife biology from the University of Vermont (2000), Doctorate in Zoology from North Carolina State University (2012).

Political experience: Kennebunk Board of Selectboard (2015-present)

Organizations and activities: Tae Kwon Do instructor at Gymnation, competitive distance runner, avid birder, and beginner surfer.

Why are you seeking elected office at this time?

I am seeking elected office because I feel that I have a skill set that will help us work more effectively with other entities in town as well as with our neighboring towns. In my work as a conservation biologist I frequently need to bring together stakeholders from multiple groups and agencies to find collective solutions to difficult problems. I have two children in the Kennebunk school system and plan to be in this town for a long time. I am invested in maintaining the unique and positive character of this town, and in making sure it is an affordable place to live.

Top Three Issues:

1. Cost of living — It is no secret that the cost of living in Kennebunk creates a barrier to entry for and difficulties for some long-term residents. The selectboard typically focuses on keeping our portion of the mil rate as low as possible. This is good as far as it goes, but it represents only a small fraction of the total tax bill for our residents. Although the selectboard does not have authority over the schools or other districts in town, we can serve a convening role to bring the various parties to the table to develop cooperative solutions designed to minimize the overall tax burden. Crucially, this will require trust and good working relationships with these parties, as well as neighboring towns. Finally, the cost of housing in Kennebunk is a significant challenge for many people, particularly those looking for a first home or trying to retire in town. We need to work harder on bringing affordable housing solutions to this town.

2. Environmental stewardship — Kennebunk’s greatest asset is a healthy environment, including beaches, rivers, and woodlands. The recent damage to the beaches and seawall highlights some of the challenges we will face over the coming years as storm frequency and intensity increases as a result of warming oceans and atmosphere. As leaders in the town we need to be out in front on these issues and preparing thoughtful and creative solutions. We are currently repairing the damage from these recent storms, but long-term we should be prepared to find more sustainable solutions that promote the natural accretion of sand to grow the beaches and provide a natural barrier to storm events. Through the rest of town, I am working with the conservation commission to solve the problem of contamination in the Kennebunk River and with members of the community to improve our parks and natural spaces. I would like to see an interconnected set of healthy parks and protected areas that our residents can enjoy long into the future.

3. Population growth — A healthy and balanced population is important for any town. Kennebunk faces challenges as our population ages and the balance has shifted away from younger families. In order to be viable for the long term and attract new residents, we need to support our school system and make sure it remains among the top in the state, as well as maintain the character and livability of the town. Good infrastructure is an important part of this, including roads, sidewalks, and a well maintained parks system. Our parks and rec department is a model in the state and a great example of the kind of program that serves residents of all ages. I am committed to supporting these programs that help make Kennebunk a wonderful place to live. Critically, we simultaneously need to look for ways to reduce costs by attracting business that fit with the character of our town and develop better housing solutions for residents at multiple income levels.

Compiled by Staff Writer Duke Harrington. He can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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