On November 2, Sanford/Springvale voters will elect two City Councilors to three-year terms. The candidates are Becky Brink, Victor DiGregorio, Ayn Hanselmann (incumbent), Fred Smith and Michael Termath. Incumbent Luke Lanigan is not seeking re-election.
A native of North Berwick, Fred Smith has lived in Sanford/Springvale for forty years. He graduated from Noble High School in 1982, and in 1988 he started his own business in Sanford, JMS Cleaning and Hauling. During a brief period of illness, he sold the business, but later restarted it under the name Fred’s Finds.
Mr. Smith previously served six years on the City Council. He has been involved in many community projects over the past several decades, including working with the homeless and battered women, and doing outdoor cleanup and maintenance at abandoned properties. He has organized many clothing drives to raise money to buy sports equipment for kids. His efforts have helped raise almost $5,000 for the Sanford Christian Academy over the past three years.
While there was not a specific incident that prompted him to run for City Council, the recent sharp increase in property taxes has him concerned about the future: “I believe tough years are coming…we have to start preparing for that now.”
If elected to the Council, Mr. Smith said “getting spending under control” would be his number one priority. He would also work on improving the appearance of Sanford’s downtown. Talking to prospective business owners, to find out what would attract them to Sanford, is also important, he feels.
On the issue of affordable housing, he believes Sanford has more than its share of low-income housing already, which he feels deters businesses from locating here. Instead, he said, the responsibility for housing low-income residents should be shared with other communities, and the issue could best be addressed by working with the legislature.
Mr. Smith believes that retail sales of adult-use marijuana should not be allowed in Sanford, and hopes that if it is approved, it will not be located in the downtown district. He feels that the concentration of marijuana businesses in the mill building on Emery St. is negatively impacting further development of the mill area.
With regard to downtown revitalization, he would like to see the City form partnerships with private developers, perhaps through tax incentives. He suggests the City have a coordinator to work with students who need to do community service, to put them to work on projects to improve the appearance of the downtown area.
To address rising property taxes, Mr. Smith said the City has to make sure it is a good steward of the taxpayers’ money: “We have a new Police Station, new schools and now we are talking about a fire station.” He would like to see more of the budget used to pay down debt, see if expenditures are really needed, and avoid what he terms “the habit of overspending.” He worries about a downturn in the economy and what that could mean for Sanford in the near future.
Candidates Night will be held Thursday, October 7. All candidates for City Council, School Committee and Water District Trustee are expected to participate. The event will be streamed live on WSSR-TV (cable channel 26 and YouTube) and recorded for later viewing. More info here.