Q&A: Naples candidates field questions

NAPLES – On Tuesday, when people go to the polls for the school budget validation vote, Naples residents will also decide who will fill two three-year seats on the Naples Board of Selectmen.

In 2015, four people are running for those vacancies on the board. Incumbents John Adams and Rick Paraschak are vying for the two selectman seats along with Christine Powers and Rich Cebra.

John Adams recently turned 70 year old. He was raised in Naples, and moved back in 2005 to take care of his mother, Ferne Adams. He has four adult children, ranging from 33 to 38 years old. Adams served in the United States Army for five years. He spent several years as a Cub Scout and Boy Scout master in Maine and New Hampshire. Adams was employed by Taylor Rental in Sanford for 10 years. He worked for the Town of Sanford for 25 years.

Rich Cebra has been happily married for 23 years to his wife Philippa. They have two children, Ian who is 22 years old and serving in the United States Navy, and Rachel who is 19 years old and attending college. For the past 15 years, Cebra and his wife have been the owners of Steamboat Landing Mini Golf in Naples. From November 2004 through December 2012, he represented the 101st House District in the Maine State Legislature, representing the towns of Naples, Casco and Poland. While in Augusta, he served as the House Chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation and as a member of the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government. He was appointed to the Commission to Reapportion Maine’s Congressional Districts in 2012 and the Statewide Redistricting Commission in 2013. Also, he has served on several Naples town committees including budget, Comprehensive Plan and the Causeway Restoration Committee. He enjoys outdoor activities and taking advantage of the area’s outdoor resources. He also enjoys watching the New England Patriots with his family.

Rick Paraschak has been a resident of Naples for 29 years. During that time, he has served on the Naples Board of Selectmen for four three-year terms. In years past, he has sat on the school board for three years and on The Naples Budget committee for about six to eight years. Also, Paraschak has volunteered as a firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician for 25 years, and is still serves in that capacity. He is employed by the Maine Department of Transportation.

Christine Powers has owned a home in Naples for 21 years and lived in the Lakes Region for 4 years before purchasing her home.  She raised her daughter Kelsey here, and says her daughter “will call Naples her hometown for the rest of her life.”  Over the years, Powers had worked locally in the community at MSAD 61 and at the Naples Public Library. She has been the director at the library for over four years and served as the Children’s Librarian for nine years prior to that.  Currently, she is serving in her second term of the Maine State Legislature where she sits on the Transportation Committee.  She previously served on the Naples Board of Selectmen for 12 years, serving as the chairman twice during that tenure.  Powers served on the Board of Trustees for the Lakes Environmental Association for four years, and she performed the duties of LEA board secretary for two years.  She served on the Naples Comprehensive Plan Committee and the Habitat for Humanity Committee for two years.  She is a past member of the Association of Computer Technology Educators.

Below are the questions that the candidates answered for The Bridgton News.

The candidates’ answers – like their biographies – are listed in alphabetical order by last name.

Question No. 1: What are the top three items for the town?

Adams: Roads would be number one. The people who go hungry all the time, the food pantry, would be number two. Probably, cutting the brush and tree limbs back from the road would be number three. They didn’t do a good job last summer.

Cebra: 1) There must be consistency and fairness in dealing with all of Naples residents equally. This is done by evenhandedly following the law. Government should never pick winners and losers in the private sector. 2) Maintaining a balance between the historic past of Naples and a future that includes smart planning and management. 3) Dealing with budget shortfalls and increasing costs

Paraschak: I look at them as continued growing pains. I think that we are continuing to grow, maybe not as a population, but as town infrastructure. Improvements to road ways are important. The Causeway, recreational facilities may continue to grow and improve. We have the maintenance and upkeep of existing buildings we currently have. We need to continue making improvements to manage our tax base as much as possible.

Powers: We need to continue to work together to strike a balance between protecting the investments of this community such as the roads and buildings, providing necessary services, supporting our children and their schools, and protecting the property taxpayer in any way that we can to deter the rising cost in that tax.

Question No 2: For the town, what might be upcoming, new business that needs to be addressed during the next three years?

Adams: Well, we have a lot of roads we have got to improve in the next three years. The roads are falling apart; and that is hard on vehicles. I think that is the best thing Naples can do for it residents: Fix the roads.

Cebra: The biggest issue that the town will have to deal with is an underlying issue that must be addressed called “sustainability.” That means that the town has to have a fiscally conservative approach and spend the money coming in from all its different sources very wisely, because some of that money, like money from the state, might go away and leave the town short. Another issue is providing consistent government for the people of Naples that is fair to all citizens in keeping with the laws.

Paraschak: Our buildings – the town office and the fire station – are showing their age. They need major improvements. We are talking about the need for a quasi-public works department or maintenance department. Because of our Causeway and Town Beach, we are going to need to somehow manage the upkeep and make people proud of them, also. All the buildings that we have acquired – that is going to put a stress on our staff and that is something we need to look at.

Powers: I see the town’s future needs as those needs that we have been working toward achieving over the last few decades and as I outlined in the top three issues for the town. One of the most critical issues that we have dealt with in my years on the board of selectmen is protecting the property taxpayer from the reduction in promised funds at the federal and state levels.  Those reductions could have crippled our financial resources had the board of selectmen not worked together to find common ground and common sense solutions for the people of Naples.

Question No 3: What skills do you think are required for serving on a local board of selectmen?

Adams: Being a Jack of all trades. You’ve got to have a little bit of smarts. You’ve got to know a little bit about everything. There are so many different things that come up. You have to be able to work together, too.

Cebra: (One) Business experience is a huge plus in government at all levels. This experience provides a real world, fiscally conservative, common sense approach to being responsible with other people’s tax money. (Two) Having experience with budget oversight. For example, I was the Chairman of the Transportation Committee in the Legislature in Augusta and we had oversight over MDOT, the Turnpike and Motor vehicles budgets. These are big complicated budgets. This kind of experience with budgets is the foundation of understanding the big picture of how government works. (Three) Having the right set of consistent priorities, knowing that in a position like selectman you serve the people not the government and your first responsibility is to the people of the town. It’s important to do what you say that you are going to do. I have always said I am a family man, businessman and sportsman, and that I am a common sense fiscal conservative and view the world through that lens. I have been very consistent in both word and deed in my service to the community. That is important in building trust. (Four) Being available for the people of the town so that they know they have someone who will be their advocate in addressing local concerns as well as their dealings with all levels of government. (Five) Commitment. Showing up and actually doing the job is a big part of representing people. Making a commitment to attend the meetings and fulfill the obligations of the position is important.

Paraschak: In my opinion, the skills would that you need to have a strong will to be involved in the community and want to learn how municipal government operates. And, you need to be willing to put in the time to keep up on what goes on in the town.

Powers: The ability to listen in general, and in particular, the willingness to listen to those with opposing views to find possible solutions and common ground. The best way forward is to work together to make a difference.

Question No 4: Being a selectman involves a lot of volunteer hours, why are you willing to sacrifice your free time and shuffle your schedule to serve in this capacity?

Adams: I like helping other people when I can. I’ve done that all my life.

Cebra: I have been committed to serving this community in various roles for more than a decade, and using my wide variety of experience in the position of selectman will benefit the town by providing a fresh, common sense voice for the people of the town on that board. I sat down with my wife prior to running, as I always have in the past, and we discussed the commitment, and we agreed that I have the time to properly fulfill the duties of the office the same way I did when I was serving this community in the legislature, 100% full commitment to the task at hand. If I thought in any way that I would be stretching myself thin, or was trying to serve two masters, I have enough character, experience and vision to know that when one tries to serve two masters one serves neither well.

Paraschak: In my case, I volunteer the time, and I’ve helped with other community members to create a lot of nice things like the town beach, the Causeway, the improvements to the fire station. I like to think I had a big input in the town beach, the Causeway, and the historical society building. I would like to continue to dedicate my time to see those things continue to grow and prosper.

Powers: Serving on the Naples Board of Selectmen has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.  I am proud of the work that we have accomplished in the past and hope to have the opportunity to work for the people of Naples again in this capacity.

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