Three vie for two council seats



BAR HARBOR — Three candidates, including two incumbents, will vie for two seats on the Town Council here at town meeting elections on Tuesday, June 12. Three-term councilor Peter St. Germain will seek re-election, as will incumbent Vice Chair Gary Friedmann. The newcomer to the race is local business owner Joe Minutolo.

Gary Friedmann

Friedmann, the head of a nonprofit consulting firm Gary Friedmann and Associates, said he was excited to explore the “unparalleled opportunities” in town for potential development if elected to a third term as councilor.

“There are few communities in the state that have the economic engine that Bar Harbor does,” he said on May 14. “That gives us the ability to tap into those financial resources and those human resources to shape our future.”

Friedmann, who was first elected to the council in 2012, is the founder of sustainability nonprofit A Climate to Thrive. He said that the group, which is pushing for islandwide energy independence by 2030, rose out of his work with the Town Council. Friedmann said his work spearheading the installation of a solar array that powered the Public Works building led to the formation of the nonprofit.

“There’s a lot of people in Bar Harbor that support that activity. I see all [of my roles] complementing each other.

“I love being on [the] council,” he continued. “It’s a really exciting time to be engaged in these really complex but consequential issues that the town is dealing with right now,” the ferry terminal development and the town’s parking plan among them.

A lack of affordable housing is “changing the face of the community,” he said, calling housing the biggest issue the town faces.

“It’s causing transportation problems, [and] it’s hollowing out the young people from town,” he said.

Friedmann said he advocated for the public comment section when it was almost removed from Town Council meeting agendas. He said he wants to continue to foster a healthy relationship between councilors and residents.

“We should always keep our tone of our discussions at a high level and not let it degenerate into animosity or sarcasm or anger,” he said. “I think I do a great job connecting with people from all sides of the issue.”

Joe Minutolo

Minutolo said he was prompted to run for council after serving on the ferry terminal property advisory committee and the 2018 Warrant Committee. He was an early advocate for a multiuse marina at the property.

Minutolo, owner of the Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop, said he thinks the council has lost touch with some of the locals its decisions affect in issues like the development of the ferry terminal property.

If he is elected, he said, he would like to be instructed by residents on important decisions.

“I don’t want to make decisions. I want to be steered in a direction so proper decisions are made,” he said. “I just feel like we’re missing community in town, and I want to bring it back together.”

He hopes the town will pursue grant funding for some of the ferry terminal development cost from state and other sources.

“We are a big player in the state,” he said. “Once people cross the state border to come to Acadia National Park or Bar Harbor, they’re spending money in our state.”

Minutolo also is concerned about the lack of affordable housing. He said he would like to see more youths entering town rather than leaving to pursue jobs off of Mount Desert Island.

Operating a small business has given him insight into what businesses and his customers and employees, both seasonal and local residents, need from town government, he said.

“[For] some people, it’s their home; [for] some people, it’s a great investment; and [for] some people, we’re an ATM to them. I understand all the different dynamics, and those puzzle pieces have to fit together somehow.”

Peter St. Germain

St. Germain, owner of the Llangolan Inn and Cottages on Route 3, serves as a liaison to the School Committee, attending each meeting as a representative of the council. The School Committee is heavily focused now on a possible renovation of, addition to or replacement of the 85-year-old Conners Emerson School.

“I’m hoping to stay involved with that if I get reelected,” he said. “I work with them well, and I like them all very much.”

He’s also interested in continuing to work on options for development of the ferry terminal property.

St. Germain told the Islander earlier this month that the current council often has disagreements but is one of the best he has worked with in his nine years of experience.

“All of us are of the understanding that we’ll deliberate and banter back and forth when we have to,” he said. “But [when] the vote is taken, however it goes, everyone understands that’s the position.”

He said with the town’s larger businesses continuing to expand, a small business-heavy Town Council serves as an important contrast.

“Each of us brings that perspective to the council chambers. That fits this town right now, and it will for the foreseeable future.”

He said he has enjoyed the work of discerning what is best for the town with each decision that comes before the council.

“I don’t look for any personal accolades or gains out of this,” he said. “I’ve voted in favor of things that haven’t been beneficial to me personally, but I voted in favor of them because they benefit the town. Anyone that serves on any elected body really should carry that mindset, in my opinion.”

 

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd is a University of Maine graduate and a former Bar Harbor reporter for the Mount Desert Islander.
Samuel Shepherd

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