The five candidates seeking two seats on the Brewer City Council in the November election named attracting more residents and businesses to Brewer, improving the city’s infrastructure and streamlining communication between residents and city hall as some of the top issues they’d focus on if elected.
Councilors Michele Labree Daniels and Soubanh Phanthay are seeking reelection to their seats while Howard Kroll, Shane Boyes and Donald Corey are looking to join the council for the first time. The two candidates with the most votes will serve a three-year term.
In-person voting will be held at Joseph L. Ferris Community Center, at 318 Wilson St. in Brewer, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 8. Absentee voters can request a ballot until Nov. 3.
Candidates are included below in the order they appear on the ballot.
Phanthay, a photographer and owner of Selfie Space, a selfie museum in downtown Brewer, was elected to Brewer City Council in November 2019. In his first term, Phanthay said he worked to streamline some city functions through the use of technology.
If reelected, Phanthay said he wants to continue making city functions faster and easier for residents. Namely, he wants to make documents like permits and registration forms available on the city’s website so residents can access, complete and file necessary documents outside of city hall’s office hours.
“In the long run, it’ll help the city because not everybody is available during the hours city hall is open — most people are working then,” he said. “When people can access those documents online, people can and will do more business through the city and get things done in a timely manner.”
Phanthay said he would also focus on helping businesses start and stay in Brewer by improving the way city officials communicate with business owners. He also said he’d investigate how the city council could help commercial properties in Brewer be more affordable.
“As our business community grows, more tax dollars could be put into what the city can offer its citizens,” Phanthay said. “That, in turn, will attract more citizens to live here.”
Michele LaBree Daniels
Daniels was elected to the Brewer City Council in November 2019. She has served as the mayor of Brewer for two years.
Daniels said she spent much of her first term learning how the different departments within the city function and acting as a conduit between residents and city officials.
In her first term, Daniels helped cut the city’s pay-as-you-throw trash program that required Brewer residents to purchase special trash bags.
Daniels was also an early proponent of the city’s vacant building ordinance, enacted in 2019, in her first term. The ordinance requires vacant properties to be licensed and inspected regularly.
“To have that in place made a huge difference in the city,” Daniels said. “It put a lot of houses on the market that were previously sitting vacant. The one on my street that was really bad has since been renovated and is now a single family house that’s a beautiful home.”
If she’s reelected, Daniels said listening to residents’ concerns and finding ways to help would continue to be her first priority.
“My goal is to always be available, know how things work, know what’s going on and figure out how I can help,” Daniels said. “Representing the people who elected us is what the council is all about.”
Daniels said she’d also like to find a way to make residential and commercial properties more affordable to help more people move to Brewer and allow businesses to begin or expand in the city.
Kroll did not return repeated requests for comment regarding his campaign.
Kroll previously served as Hermon town manager for nearly six years before abruptly resigning in July 2022. No explanation for his resignation was given at the time. Before that, Kroll served as Auburn’s city manager.
Kroll also previously worked for the city of Brewer for nearly 11 years, first as a city clerk and then as assistant manager for four years, according to Brewer’s city website.
Boyes, a student navigator at Eastern Maine Community College, now serves as the chairperson of the Brewer School Committee, but is not running for reelection when his term expires in November.
If elected to the city council, Boyes said he’d focus on attracting new residents to Brewer by improving the city’s infrastructure — mainly roads and sidewalks — and increasing the amount of affordable housing in the area.
“We have a great school department and wonderful representation in our local city officials,” Boyes said. “We can create a place where people come and feel like they’re home, but people need a place they can call home.”
Boyes said he also wants to improve transparency and communication between Brewer city officials and residents. Many residents, he said, don’t know who’s on the city council, what the council does, and how they can contact the council if they have questions or concerns.
If elected, Boyes would like to live stream all public meetings to make them more accessible, and regularly update the city’s website so residents know when important events and public meetings are happening.
“I want to know what the people of Brewer are concerned about because when we agree something needs to be addressed and we can work together as a community, we can make changes that benefit all of us,” he said. “How can the city council actually govern and do the work of the people of Brewer if they’re not hearing their voices?”
Corey is a retired director of information technologies and now owns Annika Rod and Fly, a fly fishing store in Brewer, which he began in 2000.
Though he has never held public office, Corey said decided to run for city council to help Brewer remain “a strong and vibrant community.”
“I don’t have a pre-set agenda of things I think are wrong,” Corey said. “I’m going in with an open mind and want to do what I can to keep the city a well-oiled machine.”
If elected, Corey said he’d first focus on learning about his new role as city councilor, then work to keep essential city departments supported while being fiscally responsible.
Corey said he wants to ensure the city’s police and fire departments are strong to keep residents safe. An alum of Brewer High School, Corey said he also wants Brewer’s school department to remain strong.
As a small business owner, Corey said he’d also like to attract more businesses to Brewer, as it would help keep the city bustling and bolster the city’s tax revenue.