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Town council candidates find common ground

October 19, 2018

Sande Updegraph and Dan Ankeles are two candidates approaching an at-large Town Council seat in Brunswick—the town’s only contested election at the local level this November.

Despite their differing prior experiences, the two have similar opinions on several political issues.

Both candidates largely agree on what Brunswick needs: direct property tax relief for seniors, commitment to the local school system, economic development and better long-term planning that spaces out large capital improvement projects.

The difference between the two candidates is, in large part, one of background.

At 37, Ankeles would be the youngest member of the town council if elected. He currently works in Augusta as a legislative aide for the House Democrats and has a wealth of experience in state government. At the local level, he has served on the Recreation Commission for five years and the Rivers and Coastal Waters Commission for two years. He has lived in town since 2011 with his wife and their two young children.

Updegraph, 73, has extensive experience in local and regional economic planning: she has served on the Bridge Design Advisory Committee, the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA), the Village Review Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals. She is currently on the Planning Board, which meets twice each month to discuss planning and development proposals. Additionally, she is the former Executive Director of both the Freeport Chamber of Commerce and the Freeport Economic Development Corporation. For 25 years, she worked in hotel management. She has lived in town for 17 years with her husband and has three sons and one granddaughter.

Ankeles helped pass legislation protecting same-day voter registration before becoming a legislative aide in the Maine House Democratic Office, when he helped with legislation to fight predatory creditor tactics. As a former delegate for Bernie Sanders at the 2016 Maine Democratic Convention, his progressive credentials are a major part of his identity.

“I think it’s important to elect progressives up and down the ticket because that’s how we plant the seeds to build the world we want to see,” he said.

Although she did volunteer with the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016, Updegraph’s experience has primarily been in nonpartisan roles. For example, as a trustee with MRRA, she helped oversee the redevelopment of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station into the innovative business hub it is today.

“The big thing I took away from that was the value of new business and expanding business,” she said.

As for the future, Ankeles outlined a vision of Brunswick in which affordability is paramount.

“I would like us to have withstood the Portland housing crunch. I would like us to have not become Cape Elizabeth which is almost exclusively well-to-do folks. I would really like for us to be a town where everyone can live here,” he said.

Like Ankeles, Updegraph believes that the town needs to maintain a diversified housing stock.

“We want to develop and encourage more affordable housing—not low income but mid-range housing for people that can afford to pay rents or buy houses but not $500,000 houses,” she said.

Each candidate had only kind words to say about the other. Both have spent most of the campaign knocking on doors and talking to Brunswick residents.

“Dan and I both will tell you that we’ve learned more about the town than we ever would have had it been a slide into office,” Updegraph said.

Editor’s Note, 10/27/2018 at 2:34 p.m.: This article has been updated to clarify two statements about Dan Ankeles. Ankeles has a son and a daughter, and he did work on same-day voter registration projects before becoming a legislative aide in the Maine House Democratic Office. 

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