Election day is Tues., Aug. 7th.
For the first time in as many years, there's a contested election for Mayor of Brunswick. Incumbent Carroll Jones is facing a challenge from City Councilwoman Karin Tome.
The two sat down for a forum on Thursday, July 19th at Beans in Belfry coffee shop. WFMD reporter and anchor Kevin McManus moderated.
Following his victory in 2008, Mayor Jones noted that he mentioned that this was to be his last term in office, but there are some things he wants to complete before stepping aside. "I also said that I wanted to see resolution to the Rosemont water situation," he said. "We've made a lot of progress, but we're not there yet."
Jones also says he wants to complete the "branding" of Brunswick, which includes more than just emphasizing the City's railroad heritage. "I think it's going to help bring us together, and update our image in terms of a new image for people to see," he says. "We're not saying forget about the railroad because that's an important part of our history. But on the other hand, we need to look more futuristic and the branding will do that."
Councilwoman Tome wants to unite the city. "I ran four years ago on the council on the main theme of 'One Brunswick.' And I feel as strongly today as we keep that goal foremost in everything we do."
Tome said any change that comes to Brunswick should keep its small town appeal. "Our community is changing. We're in a period of transition from a sleepy little commuter town to a destination where business is going to thrive, while that sense of small town charm is going to remain," she says.
The two candidates were also asked about taxes, specifically do they see a need to raise the rate or lower the rate. Councilwoman Tome said she voted to increase rate by four cents a few years ago. "I do not foresee that happening, us needing to do that," she said. But she noted that "I will never say that I will not increase taxes if the need arises for whatever reason. And I don't see a decrease in taxes unless we get a phenomenal property tax windfall. I do not see that coming."
Mayor Jones said a lot of times, whether taxes go up or down depends on how assessments come out, and the revenue situation in the city. "To say we're never going raise taxes, I can't say that. To say we're never going to increase water and sewer rates, I can't say that in good faith," he said. "Hopefully, we don't have to, and we're trying to find better ways to manage our resources. But I can't make that promise."
Another question concerns a need to increase the local police department as Brunswick continues to grow. "We need to increase the police force as the city grows," Councilwoman Tome said.
Mayor Jones said it isn't just the police force that needs to expand as the city grows. "We have a working ratio of 500 to 1 so as the population grows, we'll have to deal with that," he said. "We also have to deal with public works, and the number of employees that we need there; the number of employees we need at water and wastewater, depending on how many shifts we have to work," he said.
The ratio of police officers to citizens in a city the size of Brunswick is 500-to-1.
A large number of people turned out for the candidates forum last week.