Vote for John Arrison for Belfast City Council

October 28, 2016

John is running for a 2nd term and he has an opponent. I’m supporting John because he is hard working, very detail oriented, is always prepared, communicates well, he’s easy going, thinks of all of Belfast, is careful and not impulsive. He keeps an eye on the area he lives in: WARD 5. If you live in other wards PLEASE REMEMBER THIS: everyone votes for all city council member in every ward…… everyone votes for city council members in all the wards so even if you live in WARD 4 you still vote for Ward 5, etc. etc. So… no matter where you live in Belfast please join me in supporting John Arrison for the Belfast City Council.

Check out our Youtube videos of “why I am voting for Jonathan Fulford”

October 28, 2016

“Why I am voting for Jonathan Fulford!”  there are twenty people, your neighbors, and they tell you in their own words.

Vote for Jonathan Fulford for Maine Senate

September 30, 2016

Here in Belfast we have done very well. We’re alive with businesses hiring, Mainers and tourists love visiting, and locals enjoying a “real” town that is recognized and cheered state wide.
As Mayor of Belfast for 8 years and now a four term City Council member I’ve watched as Maine fell far behind the region and country. Six years ago the state elected Governor Le Page and two years later we elected a Republican legislature. Most of Maine, other than the coast and southern Maine (which the Governor dismisses as Northern Massachusetts), have suffered badly under this Governor and his legislature.
The latest outrages by LePage camouflage how badly his administration and the Republican senators and representatives have failed Maine. Instead of talking about the deep harm caused by their radical experiment we’re talking about a foul mouthed loose cannon.
This November we have one last chance to begin to right the state. If we miss this one chance we’ll be another 3-4 years before we can begin to straighten out all the damage LePage and the legislature has done.
The Republican majority needs to be thrown out. In Waldo County we must elect Jonathan Fulford to the Maine Senate. In every district and county of Maine every Republican must be voted out of office. No matter what they have done individually, as a party they have failed Maine. If you care about Maine’s future we need to vote the Republican’s out. Vote: the future is on the ballot.

Mike Hurley Belfast

all over but the shouting

November 4, 2015

Eric Sanders won 65% to 35% … that is a resounding endorsement for Eric and the Belfast City Council. Thank you voters.

my email supporting Eric Sanders

November 2, 2015

Thank you for reading my one real letter about the election. I do take your patience with email seriously.

Tuesday is election day. Long ago I learned not to sit on the sidelines while other councilors are running. If it goes bad I get to live with the person for at least one year and often a minimum of two. Who we elect matters. This year Eric Sanders is running for re-election. Eric and I came on the council at the same time 6 years ago. He works at Bank of America, plays in area bands “Captain Obvious”, teaches drums, his wife Courtney has Daily Soup and on his lunch hour Eric delivers, he has three school aged children, volunteers as a auctioneer, is truly a dedicated bicycle rider, and served on the RSU 20 School Board before joining the council.

In the last six years it is hard to count all the things that have went well for Belfast. In spite of huge cuts in municipal revenue sharing (the state refunded less to towns) and education by the Le Page administration the city mostly managed to keep an almost flat budget. The schools went up (keep in mind that the schools are 63% of your tax bill) but the city budget didn’t. Between grants and private fundraising we managed to do a lot without spending tax dollars. Six years ago Front Street Shipyard wasn’t even a dream. There were almost 40 empty stores and buildings in downtown and along route One. Today they’re mainly filled and there is a huge sense of vibrancy and optimism. Belfast is on the move. The Harbor Walk and the Passy Rail Trail were hoped for. Today they are reality. RSU 20 was adrift in bickering and dysfunction: Eric helped lead and tirelessly championed the complicated withdrawal process. 77% supported withdrawal and everyone is now happier. Eric brings a pragmatic and impatient energy. He knows how things work and he wants to see them work well. He holds people accountable whether they have senior positions or come making proposals to the city. He’s been a budget hawk especially on not foolishly or recklessly lowering the surplus. The surplus is there as an emergency rainy day fund and saves us from having to borrow to pay our bills.

Turning Belfast around in six years wasn’t easy. It took hard work. The city hired an economic development director who’s done wonders for all of us. We supported Our Town Belfast and changed the entire way the downtown functions. But we’re not done yet. Most of the work of city government doesn’t’ set off fireworks: should we get a new front end loader? Are people going too fast on the Crocker Road? Can we get more access to the waterfront? Are people putting brush out with their fall leaves? (don’t do it  ) but some is important, exciting, and meaningful. Making sure that people are safe from potential industrial accidents. What happens next at the Maskers / Belfast Rail Yards property? How will Front Street be rebuilt with parking and pedestrian access? Finishing the Rail Trail (by May 30th). Eric is a good listener, always accessible at school, work, the dog park, on his bike, at his house. If anything he’s too accessible. But….No good deeds go unpunished.

Eric is in a tough race against a seasoned and professional political operative. His young opponent who moved to town just a few months ago has run for a seat in the legislature as a Republican, was the grassroots director of Stand For Marriage Maine referendum that successfully vetoed our same sex marriage law, and was campaign manager for the Maine Senate Republicans. He has not at all been forthcoming about his background or his intentions but his record is clear. He has organized support from the Republican Party. Friends… in my memory we have never seen this kind of party involvement in an election in Belfast. We are nonpartisan but apparently not to everyone and not this year. Sending a message that Belfast City Council is not for partisan politics is enough reason not to support Ryan. There are however many other reasons not to support Harnden: his lack of knowledge about Belfast, his unwillingness to discuss his past, his complete lack of being involved in anything in Belfast previously, and his inexperience in the work place other than as a party representative. Worst of all: in letters he’s sent to a select few he describes Belfast like a dying dark place. I know he just got here but has he looked around? Is Belfast better off today than it was six years ago? It is better, and it got better on Eric’s watch, and it’s going to get even better. We still have work to do.

I hope you will join me and others such as Jay Davis, Cathy Heberer, Roger Lee, Caitlin Hills, Neal Harkness, Stephanie Wade, Jeanne Mcintyre, Mary Mortier, Hal Richardson and many others who have written letters of support for Eric. Eric is a good city councilor, with a record to be proud of, and a good man. I hope you will vote for Eric Sanders and tell your friends. Tuesday is election day.

Thank you/ Mike

Michael D. Hurley
93 Main Street
Belfast ME 04915
207-338-1975 P
207-338-2951 Fax
207-323-0881 Cell
mike@pilut.com

where’s our Wal-Mart?

October 21, 2015

A Wal-Mart history. Back in 2000 Wal-Mart announced they were thinking about Belfast. http://bangordailynews.com/search/?ref=tophat I had just been elected Mayor and within days the “big box” war was on. In 2001 a Belfast referendum said NO ( 70% voted NO to big boxes 1296 NO and 770 YES) to stores larger than 75,000 sq ft.
Then a few years later there was another referendum, this time approving big boxes on the east side. Except, small problem, no big boxes wanted to be there. Later the City Council overruled the referendum and changed the zoning to ban big boxes on the east side and at the same time passed new zoning to allow a big box on the former Les Hills property across from the entrance to Bank of America. It is still zoned to permit large scale development. All you need is a company that wants to do it.
Here we are more than 15 years later. I’ve been on the inside of the most of the planning process. I have opinions just like everyone but I also have knowledge. I was in the room and know what was said and what was done.
For myself I was opposed to Wal-Mart in the beginning but after about a year or two I came to the conclusion it was not “yes or no” but “where and how.” For changing my mind and leading the discussion that ultimately helped get us to rezoning and allowing a big box I was the devil incarnate to people opposed to Wal-Mart. The people who are in favor still think I’m against it. Which is all fine by me: I got over wanting to be loved and understood a long time ago. My change of mind (I was against it before I for it) came because one by one I found the arguments against a big box not to hold water and ultimately I decided: how is it good for Belfast if people drive out of town to go shopping elsewhere? It’s not.
Somewhere around 2009 the zoning was changed and we opened the door for a big box. But no one showed up. Loews or Home Depot was specifically banned anyway but their foray into Maine had ended badly when the housing bubble went poof. People love to say things like Costco! Or Trader Joe’s! But bottom line is there are few companies willing to come to a little Podunk town on the Maine coast with 6500 people who can barely support a McDonald’s but not a KFC. Wal-Mart was the only game in town who might be interested and they are not interested. Don’t take my word for it: Google it. Wal-Mart is no longer building in really small towns like Belfast. If we were any smaller we’d be Brooks.
That ship, of big retailers building everywhere, has sailed. There are two reasons. Number one: the internet. People are buying more and more stuff on line, yes….. even that fabled mythical creature: the lost and lonely underwear of Belfast, Maine are now being bought by the daily truckload on line. Ask Troy at UPS. Two: the resurgence of small business on line and downtowns everywhere are eating the big boxes lunch. Don’t trust me: Google it. https://www.google.com/search?q=major+retailers+in+trouble&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8. The net result is there is nothing stopping a major retailer from coming to Belfast except that they’re simply not interested. They have much bigger problems than whether to build in a sub minor market like Belfast. https://www.google.com/search?q=major+retailers+in+trouble&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q=walmart+in+trouble We are a speck almost beyond consideration.
Will we get a new food store? Who knows? They are welcome if they ever show up but the one thing all these companies are good at is running the numbers and the numbers say NO. We are just too small.
It is amazing to me that we are still talking about this fifteen years later. The retail world changed on our watch. The good news is the internet is right here and you can shop all night long, we have a strong downtown for those who want it, we have a decent number of stores like Reny’s, Job Lot, dollar stores, and enough hardware and lumber stores to build whatever you like. The Les Hills property is still zoned for major development so if anyone’s interested send them along.
The one thing you can never get in a Belfast store is a change of scenery and a trip out of town.

Re-Elect Eric Sanders

October 18, 2015

Here’s my letter to the editor in support of Eric…

To the editor:
Time for a change in Belfast? Hopeful candidates throw that slogan when they don’t have any ideas. Let me tell you about change. Six years ago I was elected to the Belfast City Council with an almost unknown young man, Eric Sanders. I ran because Belfast was adrift economically. We had dozens of empty businesses on Route One and downtown. I wanted to get Belfast moving. In Eric I found a kindred electric spirit. Eric; a father of three school aged children, rides a bicycle with hamster intensity, holds down a serious full time job while teaching drums, helping his wife’s business when he’s not coaching sports, playing in his band, or auctioneering. Eric has energy. Six years ago we had no Rail Trail or Harbor Walk, no economic development director, no Our Town Belfast, there was a crumbling failed condo project where today we have the amazing Front Street Shipyard. On our watch the schools were in free fall with endless fighting and rising taxes. Eric led the demanding withdrawal and RSU 71 is better off today thanks in large part to Eric Sanders. After education and municipal support cuts from Governor Le Page we managed to not cut services or have large tax increases. Eric brought positive change to Belfast and he should be supported by every Belfast voter for another term. We still have enormous work to do. We need Eric’s experience, fiscal smarts, and his energy. Re-elect Eric Sanders and he’ll keep bringing good change. I have been lucky to serve with Eric and Belfast has been fortunate to have his expertise, tireless focus and service. Please join me in voting to re-elect Eric Sanders on election day.
Mike Hurley
Belfast City Council member

But not running for Mayor this year. :)

October 18, 2015

Maybe you noticed: I’m not running for Mayor. Walter decided to run for another term. I have differences with his Mayoring but not to the extent that running against him would be good for Belfast, Walter, or me. We’d have a hell of a fight and somehow it seemed to me everyone would be a loser. So… I’m running unopposed for the City Council for a 4th term. Eight more years! And 72.00 a month!

Running for Mayor in 2015?

June 11, 2015

My current term on the Belfast City Council is up this November. By late August I have to decide if I will either run for council again or possibly run for Mayor. I am thinking about it a lot as it’s not an easy decision. Walter Ash has told many people he will not be running this year but has not said so in public. If he does not run I am very likely to run. And I may run even if he does run. I am most concerned with the lack of public discussions with our future, moving the Belfast Maskers property onto the tax rolls in a way which we want, address the energy consumption of Belfast buildings (nearly 10% of our budget at 350,000.00 each year for electric and oil), and other things we need to think and talk about. We have been on cruise control for too long. I’d try to help facilitate that conversation is I was Mayor. But if I was Mayor I will lose my vote. So… I’m not sure. What do you think I should do?

Build a small apartment “house” on your property.

June 11, 2015

Did you know that almost all property in Belfast can now build what many used to call a “mother in law apartment” on almost every property in Belfast? While some people think this is only for converting an existing garage: it is not so. As long as you can meet the setback requirements (and maybe not even as long as you have an existing building like a garage) you are able to build a “one bedroom” additional separate building and use it for rental, home office, guests, etc. The City changed the zoning to make this possible. We want people to build new apartments. Go to City Hall Planning office or call 338-3063 ext 25 for more information. Or call Mike Hurley at 338-1975.