Six vie for two Bridgton Planning Board spots

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BRIDGTON — Six candidates are vying for two three-year seats on the Planning Board, while no one turned in nomination papers for an alternate three-year seat on the board. 

Three incumbents are being challenged by three newcomers. Incumbent Deborah Brusini is currently the vice chair of the board, while incumbents Diane Paul and Douglas Oakley are alternates. Samantha Zawistowski, Gregory Watkins and Daniel Harden are also running. 

Brusini is the Planning Board liaison to the Land Use Committee, the chair of the Ordinance Review Committee and is on the board and the President of Highland Point Homeowners Association. She has also served on the Appeals Board in the past. 

She was motivated to run for the Planning Board because she wanted to be “personally involved in understanding the issues and problems (in town) and how to move forward from that.” She also enjoys the problem-solving aspect of the job. 

“I’m a former scientist as well as a marketer, and there’s an analysis involved with what’s been presented to you by the applicant and the performance standards,” she said. 

Brusini said she is thorough and thoughtful in her work: “My approach is to throughly analyze a project in an impartial and deliberate manner, then make an unbiased and informed decision.”

She said she doesn’t have an agenda, but “the economic vitality of the town is very important to me. There’s a lot going on in Bridgton, and I’d like to see it prosper.”

Before serving as an alternate on the Bridgton Planning Board, Paul served on a planning board when she lived in Rhode Island. She is also on the Community Center Board of Directors and is the town’s local health officer.

As an alternate, she said “I got to learn the procedures, ordinances and processes of the Bridgton town. I thought that would be a great way to ease myself into the position and that way I wanted to learn everything because it’s very different in Maine than it is in Rhode Island.”

She said her priority is “to make sure that the town brings businesses into the town but when they do apply for applications that the applications are heard and all the policies and procedures and ordinances are followed, especially shoreland around the water areas.”

Paul would also like to keep Bridgton’s small-town atmosphere intact and said residents should vote for her because “I’m honest, I’m knowledgeable and I’m not afraid to say what’s right or what’s wrong.” 

Watkins is the former chair of the Selectboard and has also served as the co-chair of the Comprehensive Plan Committee. He is currently on the Board of Appeals. 

He feels that ordinances need to be rigorously adhered to. 

“The ordinances as they exist need to be followed as it is written and that each application is given a fair and honest review according to that ordinance,” he said. 

However, he doesn’t feel that this is currently being accomplished, which is why he decided to run: “Some applications go through very quickly, and there are other applications which go through a more extensive (process) and sometimes an undue burden.”

His primary goal, he said, is to consider all projects and proposed changes with “great care and consideration.” 

“It’s really important that we keep our town at the state where we respect our culture and we keep that, but at the same point not allowing our town to get buried in ruins of dust and not realizing that we are moving forward in time,” he said. 

Watkins also believes his relatively young age, 40, will be an asset, as will the fact that he was born and raised in Bridgton. 

Harden has not served on a town committee before, but is currently the president of the Greater Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. 

His goal is to “keep the town going in the right direction to sustain economic viability and keep the town growing in a controlled way.”

Harden said he is “very heavily into the local community” and would like to ensure that “the town stays going in the right direction.”

“We just need to look at everything as a whole and do stuff that’s good for the town that will bring business in and attract people to come to our town,” he said. 

Oakley and Zawistowski could not be reached for comment. 

The race for Water District trustee is also contested, with Catherine DiPietro challenging incumbent Wesley Gorman for the single three-year seat.

Gorman has held the position for over 15 years and has also served on the School Board. 

He said there are some projects in the works that he’d like to see through. 

“I’ve been working with it, so I’d just as soon stay and do it,” he said. 

He thinks his experience in the position makes him a strong candidate, as does his attitude. 

“I’ve been around town for many years. I don’t take much guff,” he said. 

This is DiPietro’s first time running for a town position, but she believes that her experience as a drinking water engineer will help her contribute to the town.

“I can bring my experiences from all over the country to bear here,” she said. 

“We have a very small water district here, and I want to make sure that we have all of our assets well managed,” she said. 

In addition, she would like to focus on ensuring that “we’re able to provide the quantity and quality of water that our residents will need.”

The other races in Bridgton are uncontested. Incumbent and current vice chairman Glenn Zaidman is running for the three-year Selectboard seat. Incumbent Debra Albert is running for a three-year term as SAD 61 director, and incumbent Sharon Menegoni is running for a two-year seat. There is another three-year term available, but no candidates turned in nomination papers. 

The election will be held June 11. 

Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at jvaughan@keepmecurrent.com. 

Watkins

 Brusini

Paul