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3 candidates vie for 2 seats on Caribou City Council

CARIBOU, Maine — Three candidates are vying for two open seats on the Caribou City Council.

Longtime councilor Joan Theriault, whose term expires Dec. 31, is defending her seat. Joining her in the race are Dan Bagley and Paul Watson.

Councilor Doug Morrell has chosen not to run again, leaving his seat open. His term also expires at the end of this year.

Voters will be choosing their next leaders at a time when city officials and residents are more concerned than ever about economic development, especially in key regions of Caribou, like downtown and the post-industrial riverfront. Issues such as blighted properties, affordable housing, city infrastructure and the drug crisis are also expected to become more prevalent for future city councils.

Caribou’s municipal elections will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, at the Caribou Wellness & Recreation Center, 55 Bennett Drive.

All candidates were asked the same questions. In alphabetical order, here are the candidates and their responses.

Dan Bagley

Dan Bagley

Age: 58

 Party Affiliation: I’m a registered Republican, but I consider myself an independent and vote to the issues and candidates, not the party

Why are you running for city council?  I’ve served the citizens of Caribou over the past four years as a member of the Planning Board, and as chairman for the last two years. I have served on the Caribou Riverfront Renaissance Committee for the past two years. We have a beautiful new community school, an excellent Public Works department, a vibrant Parks and Recreation department and library, an award-winning hospital, a dedicated Fire/EMS department and a well-trained, effective police force. 

But we also face some serious challenges, including continued out-migration, a growing drug problem and a critical housing shortage. The only way we’re going to make some real progress is to put aside the politics and work together more harmoniously within City Council and across city departments and local businesses. We need a renewed spirit of collaboration on the City Council, and I believe I have the skills and experience to help move us in that direction.

Education: BS Electrical Engineering (Norwich University); MS Electrical Engineering (Air Force Institute of Technology); graduate, U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School

Employment: 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, currently own and operate an engineering consulting firm, supporting various Air Force, NATO and national security programs 

Family: I’ve been married to my beautiful wife Michelle for more than 34 years. We have two remarkable children — Eric and Laura — and an amazing 6-year-old grandson, all of whom live in Caribou

What are the top three priorities you wish to address if elected?  My top priority is to maintain our current level of essential services and infrastructure and, where funding allows, upgrade our deteriorating infrastructure, such as our police and fire stations. 

My second main priority is to jump-start our community and economic development efforts. The first step would be bringing back a dedicated Director of Community and Economic Development and grant writer. As part of our community/economic development strategy, we should explore additional opportunities for collaboration and cooperation across surrounding communities to advance Caribou’s role as a regional service center.  

Finally, we need to make strategic investments in the City’s future, while controlling potentially painful tax impacts on residents and businesses. For example, we should set up a local/regional land bank to combat ongoing blight and create new housing inventory. We should make targeted investments in riverfront revitalization projects to incentivize landowners and developers to support this exciting new initiative. 

Joan Theriault

Name: Joan Theriault

Age: 75

Party Affiliation: Not applicable to this election

Why are you running for city council? I’m running for my fourth term because I love Caribou and want to do my part to help make our city the best it can be, for the people living here now and those who may settle here in the future. I also want to be involved in the planning and building of the new police station, which is so badly needed.

Education: Graduated from Caribou High School in 1965.

Employment: Happily retired for the past five years after working many years as a property and casualty insurance agent. 

Family: I’ve been married to my husband, Paul, for 56 years. We have one daughter, Denise.

What are the top three priorities you wish to address if elected? Seeing the new police station come to life, keeping our departments fully staffed and continuing the blight clean-up, among other issues.

Paul Watson

Paul Watson

Age: Not provided

Party Affiliation: Republican

Why are you running for city council? To assist our community in rebuilding our local businesses and creating new businesses, which in turn will provide direct and indirect revenue to allow our community to grow and become prosperous. Making our community a destination for new families to relocate, too. As well as a must-see destination for visitors for festivals and activities. This in turn will help lower our tax base while increasing revenue streams and providing a better quality of life for our residents.

Education: RN degree in Nursing

Employment: 24-year retired veteran, U.S. Air Force

Family: Married to Jeanine Watson

What are the top three priorities you wish to address if elected? Create an infrastructure to support existing businesses and encourage new business, to include e-commerce, out of box innovations and home business opportunities, by creating direct and indirect revenue streams, removing obstacles for business and maintaining a low tax base for all.

Focus on employment opportunities for job enhancement and retention for both private business and public/city workers. Recognize employee contribution to our community, realizing their worth and treating them with respect.

Create a community that becomes a destination location, not only for relocation of families but business of all sizes, and a must-see year-round destination for visitors and tourists by growing current community events and festivals while seeking new events for the future.

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