Bonneville hopes to bring city together as a councilor

By Brenda Bonneville | Oct 17, 2019

Last spring, when Eric Sanders informed me that he would be running for mayor this fall, he asked if I would consider running to fill his vacant Ward 3 seat. The timing of his suggestion was perfect, as I had just ended my nine-year tenure on the board of directors at Waterfall Arts and was looking for just such an opportunity.

The commitment to run for City Council is something that I did not take lightly.

Like many people, the recent tense interactions between the mayor and City Council as well the public discourse around the Nordic Aquafarms project have concerned me. I am worried that the open, welcoming, interesting, diverse community of Belfast has gotten slightly off track.

I also thought of our two daughters, both in their 20s, who recently graduated from the University of Maine system, and are engaged socially and politically, one in in public policy, the other in international affairs. I thought of the importance of showing them that they, too, can run for office, serve their communities and help bring balance back.

I am 55, was born in Southern California, raised by my mom and grandparents, and have a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of California San Diego. My family and I have called Belfast home for the last 14 years; our daughters have gone through the entire public school system here, we started three year-round Belfast businesses, we love the community, and we feel deeply rooted and connected to Belfast in so many ways.

In addition to opening Ambiance, a lamps & shades, antiques and home decor shop right on Main Street, I also co-founded an online arts and culture magazine, maineartscene.com. Prior to opening the shop, I worked in the marketing department at Unity College and before that, I was a freelance writer in marketing and public relations.

Along with my downtown business and our online arts magazine, my husband runs a marketing agency here.

As the owner of a downtown shop, I have a lot of interaction and conversations with a wide variety of people. With my years of experience with the public and on the board of Waterfall Arts, even when I may not agree with another person's views, I am still able to find common ground and have positive interactions. My hope is that, as a city councilor, I will be instrumental in diffusing some of the extreme, negative narrative and focus instead on what brings us together. This is critically important if we want to continue to create a future for Belfast that works for the majority, not just for a few.

I am not running because of a particular issue, and if elected I would seek collaboration, not confrontation. I will listen to all sides. I will ask pertinent questions. I will do my homework and make decisions based on the best information available, and with every resident in mind.

Where I stand on the issues:

Nordic Aquafarms

I'm not opposed to the project to the extent that it certainly puts Belfast on the map in terms of attracting varied and potential businesses to our town. Also, this project would create needed additional jobs, diversify and strengthen our local economy, and has a high probability of reducing property taxes, which would be a welcome relief for most families.

That said, the scale of the project is something we should pay close attention to. If elected city councilor, and representing all citizens of Belfast, I will want to make sure that Nordic Aquafarms holds up its end of the bargain and that promises are kept, including (but not limited to) environmental, financial, sensitivity to the neighborhood, accurate/transparent reporting, and excellent communication with the city and the public.

I also have great empathy for neighbors who would be impacted by the Nordic Aquafarms project, having had a similar experience a few years ago when a large building was erected, literally abutting my back yard.

However, just as we found out then, when the zoning and EPA concerns were removed from the equation — which is also the case for this project — a business like Nordic Aquafarms should be given a fair chance at succeeding and becoming a good neighbor.

Based on the many conversations I have had with voters, it seems that most people in Belfast feel as I do — they generally support the Nordic Aquafarms proposal but also have some legitimate concerns.

Assuming the project continues to move ahead, I look forward to working hard with everyone to make sure that it is a success business-wise, environmentally and financially for all of Belfast.

Property taxes

Undeniably, the issue of high property taxes needs to be tackled sooner rather than later if we want to preserve our community's current culture and identity, which is to be true to its past but also to look forward.

My husband and I feel the burden, too. Our property taxes have more than doubled since we moved here 14 years ago.

As a city councilor, I would want to explore all possibilities and work on solutions to address the high tax burden. If property taxes continue to rise, we risk forever changing the fabric of this community. We can't afford to lose families and we also can't afford to prohibit new ones from moving here.

Other issues

For the last two years, the City Council has been consumed by heated fish farm debates and tension with the current mayor. As a result, a number of important matters have been delayed or not yet fully addressed, including affordable housing, municipal personnel retention, major intersection redesign, just to name a few.

Some voters tell me they feel the City Council isn't always working on the issues they most care about or working quickly enough. If elected, I want to work toward ensuring that more issues get the attention they deserve. Also, my past experience working with Eric Sanders (our next mayor) on the Waterfall Arts board and the good relationships I've already developed with several council members and the city manager will help us move forward more rapidly. I would like to find ways to optimize the bimonthly meetings so that we can address more business and do so in a timelier manner.

I look forward to the possibility of working with our new mayor, the city councilors, our city manager, city employees and the public.

For more information, or to contact me, please visit brendabonneville.com. You can also email me at brenda@brendabonneville.com.

Thank you and I hope to have your support on Nov. 5.

Brenda Bonneville is a candidate for Belfast City Council representing Ward 3. Note that Belfast voters elect councilors from all wards, not just from the ward in which they reside.

 

Comments (4)
Posted by: Seth Thayer | Oct 25, 2019 06:33

Seems like the commenter is talking to himself while grasping at straws.



Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Oct 23, 2019 16:31

The problem: "Fish is naturally low in saturated fat, and some types, like salmon, are also high in omega-3 fat, reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack and inflammation throughout the body. While Americans need to eat more seafood and less red meat, some fish such as farmed salmon are contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals such as PCBs [polychlorinated biphenyls], pesticides [such as dieldrin and toxaphene], and antibiotics, says Margaret I. Cuomo, MD, author of A World Without Cancer.

And unlike wild salmon, farmed salmon are fed a mixture of other fish ground into fishmeal and fish oil, and they concentrate more toxins in their fat tissue than do other fish, Dr. Cuomo notes.

The solution: "Fish is an important part of my family's diet, and I am very careful to choose wild salmon, rather than farmed salmon," Dr. Cuomo says.



Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Oct 22, 2019 20:23

Intrafish, a seafood industry trade publication, recently reported that Nordic Aquafarms CEO Erik Heim referred to a lawsuit filed by Nordic opponents as “a Trumpian approach to things.”

In the 20 months since Nordic Aquafarms publicly announced plans for its proposed Belfast fish factory, Erik Heim and Nordic Aquafarms have leveled many insults at the good people of Belfast, but this one takes the cake. With this quote, Heim — a foreigner who wants to do business here and extract a profit from this community and from this country — manages to insult, in just one sentence, his opponents, who are long-standing members of the Belfast community, and the president of the country where he wants to do business. Even by Nordic Aquafarms’ standards this arrogance is breathtaking.

But it’s more than that. It is yet more evidence of the incompetence of Erik Heim and Nordic Aquafarms, for only an incompetent would publicly make such an imbecilic statement.Intrafish, a seafood industry trade publication, recently reported that Nordic Aquafarms CEO Erik Heim referred to a lawsuit filed by Nordic opponents as “a Trumpian approach to things.”

In the 20 months since Nordic Aquafarms publicly announced plans for its proposed Belfast fish factory, Erik Heim and Nordic Aquafarms have leveled many insults at the good people of Belfast, but this one takes the cake. With this quote, Heim — a foreigner who wants to do business here and extract a profit from this community and from this country — manages to insult, in just one sentence, his opponents, who are long-standing members of the Belfast community, and the president of the country where he wants to do business. Even by Nordic Aquafarms’ standards this arrogance is breathtaking.

But it’s more than that. It is yet more evidence of the incompetence of Erik Heim and Nordic Aquafarms, for only an incompetent would publicly make such an imbecilic statement.



Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Oct 18, 2019 21:25

Baloney



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