It’s time to plan to vote to adopt the 2019 Westport Island Comprehensive Plan
In February 2018, a group of fellow islanders agreed to take on the daunting task of updating Westport Island’s 2002 Comprehensive Plan. After 21 months of regular Thursday work sessions; developing, distributing and compiling results of a community survey; an advisory vote on the resulting Vision Statement; public meetings and at least as much time invested in pursuing individual work assignments, our Comprehensive Planning Committee is asking for our support next Tuesday, November 5, with a “yes” vote to adopt its proposed Comprehensive Plan.
Last year’s Vision Statement has guided the development of the Comprehensive Plan now being presented for a vote. The survey which provided the community input to shape the Plan was mailed to 800 island residents and property owners. The Vision Statement was developed by synthesizing comments from a public hearing with the answers and comments collected from 295 survey respondents. The Vision Statement was then ratified by an overwhelming 414 of 467 voters in November 2018.One might wonder why a Comprehensive Plan is important. It sounds more bureaucratic than relevant to everyday life on the island.
Comprehensive Plans are part of a “growth management” strategy borne of the 1988 “Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Regulation Act.” This act was passed after concerns that rapid, sprawling development on Maine’s southern coast was threatening the health of local communities by diminishing scenic views, historic villages, traffic flow, wetlands, wildlife preservation, healthy groundwater and the qualities that draw people to Maine. In many instances, Planning Boards had been so busy reacting to requests for individual building permits that they didn’t have time to look at the bigger picture, or the “cumulative impact” of creeping growth on their communities.
Comprehensive Plans are blueprints of “the bigger picture”. They are developed by looking at the past, taking a snapshot of the present and creating a vision for the future with the input of the people who live and work in a community. Our 2002 Comprehensive Plan served us well, but it expired in 2012.
The State rewards communities who invest the effort in a current, community-approved Comprehensive Plan with incentives such as preferred access to a variety of state and federal grants designed to improve communities, including: Community Development Block Grants, Land for Maine’s Future, the Land and Water Conservation Fund and select Department of Environmental Protection grants. We have benefited from these grants in the past when we still had an approved Plan to develop amenities at Clough Point and our public boat launch, the Wright Landing. It would be very beneficial to have access to these monies again for improvements at our public lands, to improve resiliency and safety on our roadways with rising sea levels or for other public services.
Please join your neighbors at the polls on Tuesday, November 5 — or vote absentee through Thursday, October 31 — to adopt the 2019 Comprehensive Plan for Westport Island’s future and to show appreciation for the work done by our Comprehensive Planning Committee: Bob Mooney, Chair; Jerry Bodmer, 2nd Selectman & Plumbing Inspector; Gary Richardson, Code Enforcement Officer; Dick Barker, Planning Board; Dennis Dunbar, Conservation Commission; Jeff Tarbox, History Committee; Jason Kates, Cable Contract Negotiating Committee; Jim Cromwell, Road Committee; Ted Christie, Harbor Master; Richard DeVries, Wright Landing Committee; Joanna Jacobs, Planning Board; and Ron Stoodley, Deputy Code Enforcement Officer.
Islanders voter turnout was high
Once again, Westport Island voters turned out in large numbers to have their say in yesterday’s election for Governor, U.S. and State Senate and House seats and various county offices as well as a home care referendum and five bond issues.
On a local ballot, Islanders were also asked to affirm — and did so overwhelmingly — the draft Vision Statement of the Comprehensive Planning Committee. The Vision Statement was developed based on the answers of 295 respondents to a survey this summer requesting them to rank their priorities for future growth and development of the island. The Vision Statement was designed as a blueprint for completing an update to our Comprehensive Plan.
With 477 voters (final out-of-country and military voters are not yet tabulated), Westport Island’s voter turnout hovered around 72 percent, about 10 percent less than the record-breaking turnout for the 2016 presidential election.
New Westport Island Town Clerk Julie Casson did a great job managing her first solo election alongside 21 election volunteers all of whom made “Vote 2018” welcoming and successful. As evidenced by the town’s vote totals below, Westport Island’s voters pretty much voted in lock step with their state and county neighbors on the Federal/State/County ballot.
How Westport Islanders voted the contested races:
The overall winning candidates and referendum votes are noted in italics where results are available.
|Governor||Janet Mills (D)||241|
|Shawn Moody (R)||195|
|Teresa Hayes (I)||26|
|Alan Caron (I)||6|
|U.S. Senate||Eric Brakey (R)||176|
|Angus King (I)||267|
|Zak Ringelstein (D)||31|
|U.S. House District #1||Mark Holbrook (R)||194|
|Chellie Pingree (D)||252|
|Maine Senate District #13||Dana Dow (R)||230|
|Laura Fortman (D)||233|
|Maine House District #89||Stephanie Hawke (R)||227|
|Holly Stover (D)||234|
|District Attorney (District 6)||Natasha Irving (D)||232|
|Jonathan Liberman (R)||219|
|Question 1. Home Care||Yes||179|
|Question 2. Water Quality & Treatment Bond||Yes||258|
|Question 3. Transportation Infrastructure Bond||Yes||346|
|Question 4. Maine Universities Bond||Yes||236|
|Question 5. Maine Community Colleges Bond||Yes||306|
|Westport Island Question 1. Comprehensive Plan Vision Statement||Yes||414|
Yesterday or today: a privilege, an expression of ideals and a civic responsibility
Tomorrow’s election occasions a look back at elections past. Whether yesterday or today, election officials put considerable effort into making the voting process accessible and secure. The pictured 1898 State of Maine “Instructions to Voters” attest to a process not so different than today. One notable difference: the voters, election officials and candidates of today are both men and women… (thank you 19th amendment)…
1898: Give your name and ballot residence to the ballot Clerk
1898: Go alone to a ballot shelf and there unfold your ballot
1898: To vote a straight ticket, mark a cross X in the square over the party name at the top of the ticket.
2018: There is no square for a straight party ticket; vote for the candidate of your choice by filling in the oval to the right. To vote for a Write-in candidate, fill in the oval to the right of the Write-in space and write in the person’s name.
1898: To vote other than a straight party ticket, mark a cross X in the square over the party name, as if to vote a straight ticket, then below, in same column erase any name or names, and fill in the name or names of any candidate you choose in the space left for such purpose.
2018: Vote for the candidate of your choice by filling in the oval to the right. To vote for a Write-in candidate, fill in the oval to the right of the Write-in space and write in the person’s name. TO HAVE YOUR VOTE COUNT, DO NOT ERASE OR CROSS OUT ANY CHOICES — REQUEST A NEW BALLOT IF NEEDED.
1898: Mark a cross X in the square over Yes or No, where either of these words occur, as you desire to vote.
2018: To vote for a question, fill in the oval to the right of the YES or NO choice.
1898: Do not mark your ballot in any other way.
1898: If you spoil a ballot return it to the ballot clerk and he will give you another. You cannot have more than two extra ballots, or three in all.
2018: Ditto (but the ballot clerk may be a he or a she)
1898: You must mark your ballot in five minutes if other voters are waiting; you cannot remain within the rail more than ten minutes.
2018: There is no time limit.
1898: Before leaving the voting shelf, fold your ballot as it was folded when you received it and keep it so folded until you place it in the ballot box.
2018: There is no folding protocol; simply return all ballots that you were issued.
1898: Do not show anyone how you have marked your ballot.
1898: Go to the ballot box and give your name and residence to the warden or presiding election officers.
2018: Go to the ballot box and place all the ballots you were issued in the box.
1898: Put your folded ballot in the box with the Certificate of the Secretary of State uppermost and in sight.
2018: Just put your folded ballot(s) in the box.
1898: A voter who declares to the presiding officer or officers, (under oath if required), that he cannot read, or that he is physically unable to mark his ballot, shall, upon request, be assisted in the marking of his ballot by two of the election clerks, who shall be directed to so assist by the presiding election officer or officers.
2018: If you need help reading or marking the ballot, you may ask a relative or friend for assistance. The helper does not have to be a voter or old enough to vote. An election official can also help you read or mark a ballot. However, your employer or union official cannot help you vote.
For Westport Island election information, see the Town website.