May 21, 2019

Candidates for Brewer council outline goals

BREWER – The candidates running for two open seats on the City Council are doing so because they love the city and want to see its economic development continue.

Working on city taxes also is a big concern for four of the five candidates vying for a council seat.

The fifth candidate did not want to be interviewed Monday.

Voters in November will elect two City Council members and a school board representative. The five residents running for the two City Council seats are incumbent Manley DeBeck, Deborah Berry, Fred Martin, Kirk Thompson and Arthur Verow.

The following is an alphabetical rundown of the candidates and their responses to questions about where each stands on economic development and other city issues:

. Manley DeBeck: “Certainly, right now is a very exciting time” to be a City Council member, he said, listing the Cianbro project and its 500 well-paying jobs as one reason for excitement. “I feel the need to continue to move forward with economic development … to continue to grow, but also continue to be a Community of Caring.”

If re-elected, DeBeck’s top three goals include continuing to reduce the tax rate and maintain frugal municipal spending. “We’ve reduced the mill rate 25 percent in the last five years, but unfortunately property assessments have risen” because market values are higher. Developing a way to replace the outdoor pool, with little or no tax dollars, is another task that should be looked at as a future project, he said, and working toward the city’s established goals of reducing the water and sewer rates in coming years.

DeBeck, 61, works as an associate at Miller’s Workshop in Brewer. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Husson College and lives at 25 Goupee St. DeBeck is completing his third term on the council. He is a member of the Brewer Kiwanis Club and is the city’s representative for the Penobscot Valley Council of Governments. For the past five years he has been on the PVCOG budget committee, and he also served for 15 years on Brewer High School’s board of trustees.

. Deborah Berry: “I happen to think Brewer leaders are doing an excellent job. I think this is an exciting time for Brewer, and I’d like to be a part of it. This is an important year for Brewer.”

Berry’s top three goals, if elected, include “contributing positive energy to the city to support the administration and their economic development and their ongoing goal to make Brewer an economic hub of activity.” She also listed working to make Brewer a community with more to offer for residents and added she “feels very strongly about the jobs being created for the people in high school,” citing the new Cianbro project.

Berry, 58, is a longtime English teacher at Hampden Academy and is the secretary of the city’s zoning board of appeals, a position she would have to leave if elected in November. She has a master’s degree in literature and a certificate of advanced study in computer technology from the University of Maine. She lives at 169 Wilson St. and said another reason she is running is to keep a woman on the board. “I like to listen and I always do my homework,” she said.

. Fred Martin lives at 1 Patten Court.

Martin returned a call from the Bangor Daily News on Monday, but said, “I’ve got to go,” and hung up the phone before any questions could be asked. He was the publisher of The Brewer Register, a weekly newspaper in the city that closed in 1998, six months after he sold it.

. Kirk Thompson: “I like the economic work that’s already happening, and I’d like to see that continue in a responsible manner that includes local merchants.”

Thompson’s top goals, if elected, are to unite small-business leaders with city leaders and improve “the tax situation in Brewer. Everybody is complaining about it.” His third biggest goal is “to work with [state] delegates and get them to change how they do [property] assessments.”

Thompson, 40, is a customer service representative for L.L. Bean, has spent 16 years in ministry work and is a leadership team member for the Abundant Life Church. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Husson College and earned his master’s degree in theology from King’s Way Christian College in Des Moines, Iowa, through correspondence courses. He lives at 35 White Tail Road.

. Arthur “Archie” Verow: “We need to keep the momentum going with economic development. There are some exciting things happening.”

Verow’s top three goals, if elected, include “fiscal responsibility for spending the taxpayers’ money in a pertinent manner, handicap accessibility [for public buildings], and I also think we should take a look at credit and debit card payments for assessments.”

Verow, 65, served as Brewer City Clerk for the last 40 years and retired in April. He was born in Old Town, went to John Bapst High School, and graduated from Husson College with a business administration degree in 1966. His first day as city clerk was Jan. 23, 1967. He also is a Bangor-Breakfast Kiwanian and lives at 20 Greenwood Drive.

Also running are school board chairman Mark Chambers, who faces no opposition in his pursuit of another three years with that board. No one is running for the single vacancy on the Brewer High School district trustees.

Local elections are Nov. 6.

Tonight, the Brewer Education Association will hold a “Meet the Candidates Night” in the Brewer High School cafeteria. Doors open and light refreshments will be served at 6:30 p.m., and the forum will begin at 7 p.m.

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