Four candidates competing for two selectmen seats in Kennebunkport
KENNEBUNKPORT – Voters June 14 will choose two candidates from a field of four running for the three-year terms.
Candidates are incumbent Sheila Matthews-Bull, Robin Phillips, Larry Keller and Jon Dykstra. Selectman Patrick Briggs did not seek re-election.
Voting is 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 14, at Village Fire Station, 32 North St. Absentee ballots are available at the town clerk’s office.
• Jon Dykstra said his family first brought him to Kennebunkport in 1950, the year he was born. A retired geologist, he worked mapping the earth’s resources using satellite-based remote sensing. He and wife Connie have two adult children and five granddaughters.
Dykstra served on the town budget board and chaired the Solid Waste/Recycling Committee, returning curbside recycling to town and has served on the Goose Rocks Beach Advisory Committee. He is a member of the Cape Porpoise Atlantic Hall Board and the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust Board, co-chairs the Island Stewards program and is treasurer of the Maine Mineralogical and Geological Society.
“I love this town and would like to play a role in preserving its rich history while staying focused on the challenges of the future,” said Dykstra.
He said decades of seeing changes along the coast and his geological experience have raised concern about climate change risks to the community. He believes selectmen will need to assess risks, plan and connect with other coastal communities, state and federal governments to prepare.
Dykstra is concerned the character of the town is changing with its increased popularity with summer visitors.
“We have become increasingly vulnerable to losing the year-round, multigenerational population required to maintain a thriving town,” he said. “Sky-rocketing housing prices have made it nearly impossible for working families to move here or senior residents to downsize. More than 70 percent of the town’s short-term rental license holders are non-residents and long-term rentals for those who would like to live where they work are all but nonexistent.’
He said the town needs to continue to support the important tourism industry while also attracting new residents to sustain local businesses, schools, and volunteer organizations.
• Larry Keller said he was introduced to Kennebunkport 33 years ago by his wife, Tricia Nickerson, whose great-grandparents came to town in the 1920s. The couple have three adult children.
Keller was raised on his family’s farm in Nebraska.
“I am no stranger to arduous work: from bailing hay to plowing the fields,” he said. “I earned a bachelor’s of science degree in Petroleum Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. I received a full scholarship based on my scholastic and athletic merit. I have worked in the energy industry in various capacities, from the field to upper management, over the last 40 years.”
He recently joined the board of The Center in nearby Kennebunk.
Keller said, if elected, he would work with the planning board and other town committees to address the needs of Kennebunkport.
“Over the last few years, the town has grown with new construction and renovation,” he said. “The property values have increased substantially and the tax burden to many residents of the town will be challenging. One of my goals is to continue dialogue and efforts to provide affordable housing to families in Kennebunkport.”
Keller said he is an ardent supporter of the community and believes he can make a contribution.
“I have the experience and skill set that would contribute an unbiased voice to the board of selectmen. I am well versed in legal contracts, finance, budget planning, project planning, execution, and implementation. I am committed to collaborating with people and listening to all sides before making decisions. I am fair-minded, conscientious, and willing to serve Kennebunkport.”
• Incumbent Sheila Matthews-Bull has been a member of the board of selectmen for 15 years. She has been owner and manager of the Rhumb Line Resort since 1986, is married, and said she takes great interest in her three grandchildren.
“I have lived in Kennebunkport for 30 years,” she said. “As a business owner, I feel that my position is to represent the businesses as well as the residents. There should always be a balance between the two.”
“I have tried to be fair in all matters,” said Matthews-Bull. ” I listen to peoples’ concerns and act accordingly. I have been very lucky to have had good fellow selectmen to work with.”
In addition to her work as a selectman, Matthews-Bull has been involved with the Kennebunkport Business Association since 1995.
“I have been very involved with Christmas Prelude since then and continue to help where I can,” she said.
Matthews-Bull noted Kennebunkport is a tourist destination.
“As quiet as we are in the winter, it is just the opposite when summer comes around,” she said. “We work to keep our small New England town atmosphere through it all.”
She said a current concern is real estate acquisition by nonresidents who turn the properties into short-term rentals.
“It is an issue that we are working on through our short-term rental agreement,” she said. This is the first season for the ordinance, which was adopted last year. At present, slightly more than 400 properties have been licensed as short-term rentals. According to municipal staff, about 73 percent of those are owned by nonresidents.
• Robin Phillips is a Kennebunkport resident whose ancestors were fishermen and farmers. She is self-employed, starting a business called Porous Pickles in college. With a background in biology and botany, she has operated a gardening and greenhouse business for 25 years, sells organically-grown plants at the Kennebunk Farmers’ Market, makes wreathes and decorations from her own forest in winter, and takes part in Prelude with her Wildflour Baking Company’s Christmas Stollen.
Phillips said she pays attention and participates in town meetings. “I feel that I have an above average awareness and understanding of the challenges we face as residents of Kennebunkport,” she said. “The implications of recent laws imposed at the state level, comprehensive planning, and overdevelopment are of critical importance to our town at this time. “
She said the Village Parcel is a topic that need addressing. She noted the purchase, at $10 million plus interest, was approved at a special town meeting that had a small voter turnout. “Since then, we have spent over $100,000 on consultants to plan its future with no sign of agreement in sight,” said Phillips. “ I would advocate for another strategy that is best for the land and future generations.”
“Water quality, protection of the lobster industry and how we manage decisions regarding tax acquired land are important to all of us,” she said. ” At present, the board of selectmen can give this land away to nonprofits without voter approval. I would strive to change this.”
“I would also advocate for a more intensive strategy to address contamination of the water at Goose Rocks Beach and Cape Porpoise Harbor, what’s causing it, and how to best mitigate the problem” she said.
“Protecting the local way of life is important to me, but change is inevitable,” said Phillips. “I hope to engage the younger generations to participate and be involved in planning, for it is they who will be the next stewards of the land and sea.”
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