January 13, 2013

Winthrop Town Council candidates focus on financial restraint

Special election to fill one vacant seat set for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Town Office

By Craig Crosby ccrosby@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WINTHROP -- The two people hoping to fill a Town Council vacancy believe the town needs to improve its fiscal responsibility.

Don Ellis and Elizabeth McKenney are set to square off in the special election, which is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Town Office, at 17 Highland Ave.

The vacancy was created when Jennifer Currier resigned in October, citing personal reasons. She was one of two councilors to resign from the council last year.

Neither Ellis, 24, nor McKenney, 49, have held an elected position.

Ellis, who is single, works full-time at McDonald's on Western Avenue in Augusta and roughly 30 hours per week at Circle K in Manchester. He graduated from the University of Maine Augusta in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in public administration.

Ellis, a deputy grand knight in the Knights of Columbus, has taken part in various fundraising efforts through that organization. Ellis said he is running for Town Council to gain experience and to give back to the community in which he grew up.

Ellis said difficulty passing school and town budgets last year are evidence that voters want reduced spending. Ellis describes himself as a fiscal conservative.

"We'll have to take a creative approach in order to pass the next (budget)," Ellis said. "There may be sources (of revenue) that haven't been looked at yet."

Ellis said he has time to serve the council, despite working 70 hours per week.

"I'm a very dedicated and very hard and passionate worker," he said.

McKenney, too, has lots to keep her busy. The divorced mother of two grown children and a grandson has owned Central Maine Taxi for the past three years. McKenney has worked as a lifeguard in town, as well as helping found and coordinate Norcross Point concerts for the past three years.

McKenney is a member of the Winthrop Conservation Committee, Gaslight Theater in Hallowell and serves on the Kennebec County Republican Committee.

"I'm an old-school, Margaret Chase Smith Republican," she said.

McKenney said the council must work to keep the tax rate steady, or even lowered, over the next budget cycle. She said the town can more efficiently manage resources, "while continuing to offer a community that is welcoming and supports its least-able residents."

McKenney said she never considered running for office until asked by friends to do so.

"I expect to be doing a lot of learning," she said.

McKenney said she would carefully consider the budgets that are presented to the council and would work to spend responsibly while keeping the future in site.

"I'm not a heartless Republican, but I do feel there are some reforms that need to be made," she said.

Craig Crosby -- 621-5642
ccrosby@centralmaine.com

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