Four candidates are running for the at-large City Council seat in Bath. Megan Mansfield-Pryor, David Levi, Michael Plaisted and Michael Reavely will compete for the seat in the city of nearly 9,000 people.
Issues the candidates spoke about include preserving Bath’s history through its buildings, affordable housing and making sure Bath is welcoming to new families who want to move there. The city has shrunk in population since the 1990s when it had 10,000 people, but has been developing over time through its comprehensive plans.
As an environmental specialist at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Mansfield-Pryor’s main goals for Bath include better climate resiliency, increasing affordable housing and improving public transit.
Bath has one of the few remaining municipal-owned landfills left in Maine, and Mansfield-Pryor wants to protect it for as long as possible. In order to do that, she said Bath needs to work on reducing waste.
Mansfield-Pryor said Bath’s comprehensive plan lays out the groundwork for changes that need to take place, but there’s more to do, including addressing flooding on the waterfront and implementing soft stormwater infrastructure.
“Even the shipyard is in a zone where sea level rise is going to have an impact, so I think there are things that we need to prioritize in terms of infrastructure,” Mansfield-Pryor said.
As far as affordable housing, Mansfield-Pryor said she’s not yet sure what she can do as a city councilor and what she can’t do. But some solutions she said are worth looking at include other towns’ plans for short-term rentals and how they balance tourism with affordable housing.
Mansfield-Pryor said she wants to maintain the diversity of Bath.
“It shouldn’t be a place where people have to be wealthy to move in,” Mansfield-Pryor said.
The main motivation for Levi’s candidacy is better representation for young families in Bath. He moved to the city in 2017 with his wife and two kids, with a third on the way. He saw that Bath needs to encourage more young families to move there.
Some of these changes, Levi said, include making the city’s traffic patterns safer and more pedestrian friendly. He said there are a few areas in town where the traffic patterns are “bizarre” and not necessarily safe. He also supports having a playground downtown.
Other issues important to Levi are the high property taxes in Bath and transparency within the municipal government. Levi thinks there could be a way to have Bath Iron Works contribute more to the tax pool to take pressure off Bath homeowners in a way that could be beneficial to the company.
“From what I understand, Bath Iron Works, which of course is a critically important part of our local economy, … doesn’t necessarily contribute a whole lot to the tax base,” Levi said. “And at the same time, [BIW] has not always got what it needed from the town in terms of cooperation around parking matters.”
As for government transparency, not everyone can keep track of and go to public hearings, so Levi said the city should utilize social media and the internet more to communicate with the community. The internet is also a great way to get public input outside of forums and hearings, Levi said.
Levi identifies more as a moderate independent politically, and said he’s willing to listen to the different voices and perspectives in Bath.
“Whether a person skews a little bit this way or that way, it’s fine, I respect that people have different hierarchies of values. But I think broadly speaking, we have very, very similar values,” Levi said.
Plaisted, who’s lived in Bath for a little more than a year, said his experience as a budget analyst for the Department of Defense for 22 years could help the Bath City Council with its budget.
Plaisted said Bath needs economic development, and that more could be done with the waterfront and the empty shopping center on Route 1. He said he wants to use his background in budget analysis to help push Bath forward while doing it within the city’s budget and with ideas already in the Bath comprehensive plan.
And, Plaisted wants Bath’s historic integrity to remain — preserving historic buildings is important to him.
“There’s not anything that I can think of that I would want to tear down,” he said.
Specific changes that Plaisted wants to make if elected include a daycare in downtown to make working in Bath easier for young families. As for affordable housing, Plaisted said with the units coming in via the new housing projects, Bath is doing well on that front.
Plaisted emphasized that though he’s a newcomer to Bath, he could still serve the council.
“There’s the [perspective of the] lifetime resident of Bath who knows everything about Bath, and where it was and where it is now, and I don’t have that obviously,” Plaisted said. “But I have a perspective of 42 years of federal government experience.”
Reavely, a Bath Iron Works machinist, has lived in Bath for 17 years. After getting involved in the community through scouting and the Local S6, the machinists union at Bath Iron Works, he said he decided to run for council.
Parking and traffic are big issues for Reavely. He said there are delays between tearing down a building and turning the area into parking in Bath that can hinder development and sometimes be impractical. Reavely said he understands that buildings shouldn’t be torn down all the time for parking, but there should be some exceptions for when it’s necessary.
Reavely also said a lot of the housing in Bath consists of old buildings that are not well kept, and he knows there’s an issue with housing in the area. He thinks the new housing developments coming in are good.
“I’d really like to make sure that the Bath that we have keeps getting better like it has been,” Reavely said.