By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Town Council President candidates Craig Mael and Robert Driscoll Jr. squared off last Thursday night in a WCAT cable television debate sponsored by WCAT, the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce and the Winthrop Sun Transcript.
Moderator for the event was Paul Leavy, of Woodside Hardware, and member of the Chamber. The panelists included Dr. Paul McGee, of the Chamber of Commerce; George Rainville, representing WCAT; and Sue Ellen Woodcock, of the Winthrop Transcript. Timekeepers were Ron Moses of WCAT and Betsy Shane, executive director of the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce.
Candidates introduced themselves, took 11 questions from the panel and moderator and finally asked three questions of each other.
Both candidates are Winthrop natives and have been involved in the town. Mael, from Precinct 4 is currently the Town Council vice president and has been on the council for four years. Driscoll, under the previous Town Meeting form of government, was a Town Meeting member and a member of the Board of Selectmen.
During the debate and throughout his campaign, Mael has expressed his “vision, leadership and passion.”
Questions were asked regarding the size of the town council and how new business can be attracted to Winthrop.
“It’s my vision I bring to the table,” Mael said, explaining that he would like to see a business incubator move into what will become the old middle/high school. He’d also like to see a business plan for Magee’s Corner.
“We have a thriving restaurant business,” Driscoll said. “We need to identify what types of businesses are needed.”
The candidates, who have known each other all their lives, were also asked about residential and commercial development, including the town’s SDOD (Special Development Overlay District). Both candidates favor mixed use development. Driscoll said he thinks the SDOD could improve notifying neighbors and Mael thinks the process is fair.
Mael and Driscoll were asked about the town’s upcoming ferry service, drug use issues. They were also asked about the lack of an updated master plan for the town.
“We’re at the tipping point,” said Mael, who added the master plan has to be done to help with economic development.
“We have been missing a piece of planning for many years,” Driscoll said. “The last one was done in the 1950s.”
The candidates also asked three questions of each other. Mael let Driscoll know that the council under him would be “more active” with councilors being assigned to committees. He’d like to see them put in the same “125 percent” he does.
Mael asked Driscoll to debate him once a week up to the election. Driscoll said no, he has a full schedule right now.
The debate can be viewed on WCAT Channel 22 or on You Tube at https://youtube/vL219mZvEHQ.