Friday, October 30, 2009

Election '09: Colleen Hilton on the Issues

Colleen Hilton is the Democratic Party's nominee for Mayor.

What are your three legislative goals if you are elected?
My top priority would be to assess functions of City Hall. We need to get our house in order, which is evident from the many prolonged and protracted issues that are before us. I would also listen carefully to the debate now occuring at the Planning Board level in anticipation of a recommendation to the City Council on the re-zoning issue (Pike/Idexx). And I would determine what steps are necessary to solve the legal issues that are before us with regards to the Fire Department. I will maintain close ties with the School Superintendent and School Committee as they attempt to deal with the most recent directive to cut over $500,000 from the current budget. I would explore aligning finances between schools and the City. I know that is more than 3, but we have a lot of issues before us, and they all need to be managed carefully and expeditiously.

How do you plan to implement those three legislative goals?
I have significant experience managing competing priorities and will enlist the help of those with expertise. (I've had numerous offers of help throughout this campaign--talented, committed individuals who have informed me they have offered help and guidance to our current Mayor, but whose offers have been rejected). It's past time for someone to take charge. I'm comfortable in that role.

Which city services do you think should be maintained or expanded?
It's difficult to tell without conducting an assessment, but I can assure the citizens that I will move swiftly and with great care.

How will you make Westbrook a better place in which to live and work?
First, I think Westbrook is a great place to live and work. I will resolve the many issues that are distracting us from important work and moving. I will help bring us to a place where we can start planning and stop reacting to inaction and poor decision-making.

Which city services do you think should be cut or eliminated?
I would need to conduct a thorough assessment, but I do believe there are opportunities to consolidate some services with our schools and/or neighboring towns.

What are your thoughts concerning a Charter Commission?
When I first contemplated running for mayor, I read the City Charter. I found the language to be extremely outdated (there isn't a reference to a female anywhere in the charter). So, if for no other reason than to update language and make it consistent with current statutes, I think it would be time well-spent. Additionally, my experiences of serving 4-year terms on the School Committee and seeing City Councilors face re-election every two years, have caused me to wonder if we should shorten the School Committee terms or lengthen the City Council terms. For those reasons, I believe it is a good time to have this discussion with our community.

Do you plan to vote "Yes" or "No" on Question 2 on this year's referendum ballot?

What are your thoughts concerning the zoning conflict between Pike Industries and Westbrook Works?
As I've watched this debate unfold, I've been saddened to see neighbors fighting with neighbors, and conflict between businesses within close proximity. I have to wonder what sort of leadership led us to this place in time. How many opportunities were missed along the way to bring about a compromise for all parties--City, residents, businesses? I'm not sure if the time has passed for a compromise, and I'm aware that we have a legal process in place right now that may make my opinion on this matter irrelevant. However, I can assure you that my style of leadership is well-known, and my abilities to bring about consensus and compromise is an area in which I feel the voters have a real opportunity to send someone else to City Hall to help us move Westbrook forward in a positive manner.

Do you plan to vote "Yes" or "No" on Question 4 on this year's referendum ballot?

Cite at least one example in which you cooperated with a member (or members) of another political party.
I have been on the School Committee for 10 years, and I've worked collaboratively with all members, Republican, Democrats, Independents, or Greens.

What are your thoughts concerning the proposed Stroudwater Place development?
The concept seemed very aggressive to me. I would assume a developer like Mr. Snyder has done his research, so if he is willing to invest in this project, he must feel confident it will be a success.

Cite at least one example in which you differed with your own political party.
I've always been a supporter of Susan Collins. She has been a fierce advocate for home care and hospice and access to services for our seniors, our most frail and vunerable citizens. I make a decision based on the candidate, not the party.

What are your thoughts concerning the fire department’s problems with sexual harassment lawsuits?
Suffice it to say that I have been appalled at what I have read about this situation. I am confident in saying it will not be occuring on my watch. I find it hard to believe that this issue has gone on for the length of time it has. I honestly believe you need to look at the top executive in this instance, and you need to ask the Mayor how this could have happened under his leadership. To me, that is a prime example of no leadership. I'm offended by what I have read as a citizen, and as a woman. If even half of what is cited in the legal filing is true, it is egregious, offensive, and frightening.

Cite at least one instance in which you’ve agreed with your opponent.
I too love the city of Westbrook.

What are your thoughts concerning the Downtown Streetscape Plan?
I applaud the work that was done by the committee to bring forth the recommendations for improving the downtown streetscape. The plan is ambitious, but hopefully we can keep that project moving forward by securing funding to bring about the improvements.

What policy issue have you changed your mind about since becoming a politician?
I honestly can't think of an issue where I have been so set in my ways that I wasn't open to other viewpoints.

Is there anything you’d like to add?
I noticed the little jab made by the current Mayor when he said he didn't know where I stand on issues. I guess he hasn't been listening very well. I've been an outspoken advocate for children and families through my service on the School Committee. I've been proud to join forces with the United Way by joining the Children's Cabinet to continue to work for our at-risk youth. I've been an advocate for seniors who are disabled and vunerable through my professional work, as well as my service on the Westbrook Human Services Committee started by Police Chief
William Baker. I am called upon on a very frequent basis by members of this community to help them navigate the health care system and, in all instances, I work tirelessly to benefit the citizens of Westbrook. I will take this same energy and enthusiasm for service and put my skills and abilities to good use if the voters determine it is time to send me to City Hall. There is a reason why I have been the Chair and Vice Chair of the Westbrook School Committee, the Chair of the St. Joseph's Manor Board of Directors, the Secretary for the Cumberland District Public Health Council, the Chair of the Policy Committee, the Chair of the Legislative Committee for the Home Care Alliance of Maine, and the Chief Exective Officer of my organization. I am a strong leader and I would be proud to be your Mayor!

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Election '09: Another Look at the Mayoral Race (October 30, 2009)
Related: Election '09: Bruce Chuluda on the Issues (October 30, 2009)
Related: Election '09: Introducing Colleen Hilton (October 23, 2009)
Related: Election '09: Introducing Bruce Chuluda (October 23, 2009)

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