We want some specifics
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:56 PM
"The landscape for this fall's city elections is set. Now comes the tough part - making intelligent choices from among the candidates, which is what a campaign, at least in theory, is supposed to be all about.Early on, candidates tend to deal in generalities like preserving the island's character. Consistent with that theme, we've heard much about saving farmland and open space, respecting our environment and maintaining diversity on the island through affordable housing.Also, candidates will inevitably offer leadership and vision, at the same time promising to be accessible and ready to listen to the people.Such talk may be a starting point, but it doesn't offer much of a basis for voter choice (unless somebody does something totally astounding, like advocate a second bridge).So here are some specific issues we want to see the candidates address.To our mayoral hopefuls: We point out again that the job is principally administrative, making sure that the wheels of government turn smoothly. That involves what may be the mayor's most important single function - personnel.Under our ordinances, the department heads who actually make the city work - city manager, finance director, director of planning and community development, police chief, and so forth - are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by council. But the mayor has the exclusive power to fire. So it's fair to ask: What do you think? Which departments are performing well, and consistent with your goals, and where would you like to see changes made, in direction if not in personnel?Tough questions, but fair - and ones that would certainly draw a distinction between the candidates.And here a few specific issues the city council will face, where we expect frank talk from candidates.* South-end sewers. This hot-button issue pits residents facing chronic septic problems against those who fear that more sewers will mean more growth. The current council is split; if elected, how would you vote?* Impact fees and builder fees. Some argue that new construction places demands on services and infrastructure, and that the builder (and/or the buyer) ought to pay the costs; others say growth pays for itself. The next council will be asked to decide on proposed impact fees to support park development - are you pro or con?* Growth management. We frequently hear islanders say that growth needs to be managed, then proceed to tell us what they are against. That's not management, though, merely opposition. If you're running as a manager rather than an opposer, where and how do you want the island to grow?* Downtown parking. Does the city have a responsibility to provide more parking in downtown Winslow, and if so, how should that responsibility be carried out?Certainly, other questions will arise, and more issues will be addressed. Between now and the election, voters should challenge the candidates with tough and specific questions, to help draw sufficiently sharp distinctions in goals and style.If we're going to vote for you, we want to know what we're getting. "