Bangor voters elected two new metropolis councilors, Carolyn Fish and Susan Deane, who proposed concepts throughout their marketing campaign which are in contrast to something the town is doing to sort out its most urgent and visual points.
The eight individuals who ran for 3 seats on the council agreed that homelessness, inexpensive housing and substance use are three points that the town should deal with, however the candidates’ concepts for how one can enhance these points differ.
Some candidates campaigned with concepts like bringing extra everlasting supportive housing to Bangor, as it will give people who find themselves homeless a secure place to dwell and easy accessibility to assets for substance use and psychological well being therapy. Others advocated for including extra detox beds within the metropolis and providing evidence-based hurt discount strategies to these fighting substance use.
Assist for the newcomers’ concepts could present Bangor residents are dissatisfied with the shortage of enchancment on the town’s homelessness disaster and wish metropolis leaders to take a special method. However one councilor fears that the range of opinions might create a standstill inside the metropolis council.
Previous to the election, Fish instructed the Bangor Day by day Information she’s interested by creating an area activity power to determine the place people who find themselves homeless in Bangor are coming from to allow them to be reunited with their communities.
To deal with substance use, Fish noticed advantage in reigniting the Drug Abuse Resistance Training (DARE) Program in faculties that would assist staunch substance use in youthful generations. However, Fish mentioned she’s not in favor of bringing extra methadone clinics to Bangor as a result of “the people who fall out of these packages find yourself on our streets and that draws drug sellers.”
Throughout her marketing campaign, Deane mentioned Bangor has reached its restrict on how many individuals it may present providers to. Metropolis leaders should now cease the inflow of unsheltered individuals coming to Bangor for assist whereas addressing those that are already right here.
This work, she mentioned, needs to be coupled with encouraging the event of extra housing in Bangor, bolstering financial growth and conserving neighborhoods and parks secure.
Fish garnered essentially the most votes on Tuesday, successful 3,151, whereas Deane gained 2,634 and incumbent Joseph Leonard claimed 2,448, in line with Metropolis Clerk Lisa Goodwin. They are going to be sworn in on Monday morning and serve a three-year time period.
Whereas voters selected Fish and Deane to hitch the council, Leonard’s reelection will also be interpreted as some residents’ endorsement of what he has accomplished throughout his yr on council, mentioned Mark Brewer, professor and interim chair of the Division of Political Science on the College of Maine.
The mix of Leonard, Fish and Deane reveals that the subject of homelessness is “dominating” individuals’s minds they usually need one thing accomplished, however what motion they need metropolis leaders to take is “clear as mud,” Brewer mentioned.
“The elected councilors inform us that Bangor residents need the homeless challenge addressed and that’s what they’re going to be in search of from the brand new model of the council,” Brewer mentioned.
Linzy Norris of Bangor mentioned he voted for Fish and Deane as a result of he preferred the “extra conservative” concepts they instructed the Bangor Day by day Information previous to the election for a way they’d method homelessness.
“I’ve lived and labored in Bangor for a few years and I really like the town, however proper now, it’s not what it was once,” Norris mentioned. “There have been no ‘Tent Cities’ three or 4 years in the past, so I’ve to place the blame on the present council. They’re doing nothing to determine the homeless who’re coming into city.”
For instance, Norris mentioned he preferred Fish’s concept of making a activity power to determine the place people who find themselves homeless in Bangor are from to allow them to be reunited with their communities.
Norris mentioned he believes Bangor ought to proceed to assist and assist unsheltered individuals who’re from Bangor, however deny assets to anybody who’s homeless and involves Maine in search of help.
Norris additionally mentioned he doesn’t assist distributing hurt discount supplies, like sterile needles and Narcan, to individuals in lively substance use, as a result of he feels it encourages individuals to proceed utilizing medicine.
Whereas Norris didn’t know precisely what motion he needs to see from the brand new councilors, he hopes no matter motion they take is a special method from what he’s seen the council do in recent times.
“I hope they’re in a position to convey some recent concepts to the town council that lead them in a brand new course, as a result of proper now, it’s getting in a foul course,” Norris mentioned.
Amy Clark of Bangor, nonetheless, mentioned she didn’t vote for Fish or Deane as a result of she didn’t just like the marketing campaign supplies that touted the 2 candidates and Phillip Henry, who wasn’t elected. A neighborhood political motion committee, “Residents for a Safer Bangor,” printed these supplies that painted Bangor as an unsafe metropolis.
“I discovered the general feeling of the election to be disappointing and unhappy,” Clark mentioned. “I didn’t like plenty of fearmongering and stigma round people who find themselves struggling that persuade individuals they’re at risk each time they go away their residence in Bangor.”
Residents for a Safer Bangor claimed Fish, Deane and Henry would “assist the homeless safely relocate” and “restore public security to Bangor,” whereas present metropolis insurance policies trigger “extra homeless, extra crime and extra taxes and laws,” in line with a Fb submit.
“I’ve spent near seven years volunteering to assist individuals who use medicine and other people in restoration and I do know people who find themselves struggling will not be inherently harmful,” Clark mentioned.
No matter who’s on the council, Leonard mentioned he’ll proceed to push for a housing-first mannequin to lower homelessness, which prioritizes getting individuals into inexpensive everlasting housing to allow them to deal with getting substance use or psychological well being therapy with out worrying about the place they’ll sleep or how they’ll keep heat.
“If the residents of Bangor actually wish to clear up homelessness, we have to cease sweeping the problem underneath the rug as a result of individuals don’t like seeing them on the streets,” Leonard mentioned. “Now we have peer reviewed research that present housing-first initiatives are confirmed to work.”
However Leonard is not sure what, if any, progress will be made on this if the council’s latest members aren’t in favor of such initiatives.
“I concern we’ll have a lame duck yr the place nothing on council will get accomplished,” Leonard mentioned. “I don’t assume most employees at metropolis corridor are going to understand half-baked concepts like restarting the DARE program.”