SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Five candidates are running for two seats on the town’s Board of Selectmen at the May 7 town election. Polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the fire station.
Incumbent chair Chad Terry, Jose Feliciano, Arthur “Hess” Pettegrow, Jose “JoJo” Felciano Jr, and Allen “Snap” Willey are seeking the two open seats. Selectman George Jellison, who has been a selectman since 2010, will not seek another term.
John Izenour is unopposed in his bid for the open seat on the Southwest Harbor School Board.
Although Feliciano is making his first bid for selectman and has never previously run for public office, he got an up-close look at local politics when he was a boy.
“My father was in politics in New Jersey,” he told the Islander. “That’s why I never ran. I didn’t like the crookedness.”
Feliciano said what inspired him to run is the potential for Southwest Harbor to grow. He believes the town needs to have more housing so that people can stay year-round.
“This could be a year-round place if the community came together to support mom and pop shops,” he said.
Feliciano said he came to Southwest Harbor from New Jersey with 300 dollars in his pockets and built the Village Washtub laundromat business.
“I love this town. I’ve grown into this town. A lot of people helped me get started,” he said.
Feliciano doesn’t want to see Southwest Harbor become anything like a city. But he said as a business owner, he has seen firsthand the stresses that year-round residents face when it comes to transportation related to employment.
Noting that some residents do not have reliable winter transportation, Feliciano said he’d like to see an expanded bus service between Ellsworth and Southwest Harbor.
“We need to support families who live here year-round so they can stay,” Feliciano said.
Jose “JoJo” Felciano, Jr.
Feliciano Jr. may not have experience holding public office, but as the owner of Joey’s Place Sports Bar, he has a good sense of how residents think the town is being run.
“People come to vent a bit and I hear their complaints,” Feliciano Jr. told the Islander. “I try to send them on their merry way with a drink, but it’s a huge asset that I get to listen to people and hear what they think.”
He has lived in Southwest Harbor for 18 years. He and his fiancé are expecting their first child in October. They also recently acquired Joey’s Place from Jojo’s father.
“I’ve heard from a lot of people and we need a younger face on the board,” said Feliciano Jr., who hopes his run for the board of selectman will inspire other young people to get involved.
“I grew up in a city,” he said. “I didn’t have this beautiful bubble as a kid, and I don’t want to turn our town into a place for just tourists so that people get run out of here.”
Arthur “Hess” Pettegrow
Pettegrow has lived in Southwest Harbor all his life, but it wasn’t until he joined the fire department last December that he became interested in running for town office.
“I’m more interested in how the town operates now,” he told the Islander.
In particular, he is concerned about two important issues: the proposed sidewalk along Main Street and the funding of the Water and Sewer District.
“Instead of sitting back and waiting to see how everything turns out,” he said, “I figured I might as well get my opinion in there.”
A lobsterman who married in July, Pettegrow is now the stepfather of two children, ages 2 and 7.
“I’d like to see [Southwest Harbor] stay a place for families,” Pettegrow said. “It’s a great place, but I’d like to see it stay a place for working people to live.”
Terry is seeking a second three-year term on the Board of Selectmen.
A life long resident of Southwest Harbor, Terry is a former president of the MDI Lions Club and previously served 7 years on the town’s planning Board.
During his time on the board, the town acquired the Hook property and rebuilt the downtown playground.
“There are things that we’re working on that I’d like to see completed,” Terry told the Islander. “The town garage being one.”
Terry owns GT Outhouses, a septic and portable toilet company that has been in operation for 12 years and Terry Tank Service, a septic and municipal waste service that has been in operation for nearly 60 years.
As the father of a 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son, Terry thinks a lot about where the town is headed. He is particularly concerned with future planning as it relates to summer people and tourists.
“There is a capacity for what the area can handle and we’re coming up to it,” Terry said. “Otherwise paradise [will get] paved.”
Allen “Snap” Willey
There’s a reason Willey has never previously run for Board of Selectman. “Working for the town you can’t be on the board,” Willey said. “But I’m retired now, so I figured I could help.”
Willey retired last year after serving the town of Southwest Harbor for 38 years. In 1980, he was hired to work for the highway department. Two years later, he moved to the water district where he quickly ascended to the role of superintendent.
And just because he’s retired now, doesn’t mean he hasn’t stayed involved. His knowledge of town infrastructure has made him an indispensable asset to the water district. “I got a call [from them] today,” Willey told the Islander.
The father of three grown children and a survivor of lung cancer, he said he is ready to serve his town in a new capacity.
“I know the infrastructure and I think I could be a big help with future projects,” Willey said. “Ain’t much of this town I haven’t seen dug up.”