City elections shaping up
Carr and Alcorn out; big field for at-large school board seats
By Chris Busby
Now that the deadline to turn in nomination signatures has passed, this fall’s campaigns for Portland City Council and School Committee seats are taking shape. Some notable developments…
• District 3 City Councilor Donna Carr is not seeking reelection. Despite an earlier pledge to turn in signatures and get on the ballot regardless of her intention to campaign, Carr did not return signatures to the city clerk’s office. She could not be reached for comment, and did not attend the City Council meeting last night.
• Former school board chair Ellen Alcorn is also throwing in the towel after one three-year term. The at-large representative has not responded to a request for comment.
• Former state legislator Dick Farnsworth has qualified to run for Carr’s District 3 council seat, representing Libbytown, Stroudwater, and neighborhoods near the University of Southern Maine (USM). He did not return a call seeking comment.
• Former city councilor and planning board member Orlando Delogu is running for one of the two at-large seats on the school board. An emeritus professor at USM, Delogu most recently ran for City Council in District 2 (the West End and Parkside) in 2003, losing to then-incumbent Karen Geraghty.
The race for the two at-large seats up for grabs on the school board is shaping up to be the most closely contested campaign of the season. As of this morning, six candidates had turned in papers, and five of them appear to be serious contenders. (The sixth, Regina Phillips, did not return a call seeking comment.)
In addition to Delogu, incumbent Ben Meiklejohn is running for re-election. Jaimey Caron, a former planning board member and current president of the North Deering Neighborhood Association, is running again. He narrowly lost an at-large school board race to Susan Hopkins in 2005. Two political newcomers, Kate Snyder and Leslie Minton, are in this race. Both have experience in education and public policy (Snyder is a consultant to a Boston University global health care initiative; Minton works for the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, a non-profit group that helps educators teach those subjects).
District 3 school board member Peter Eglinton is running unopposed. Eglinton took that seat last summer in a special election after committee member Jason Toothaker resigned. He was unopposed in that race, too.
Carr’s departure leaves four candidates vying for the District 3 council seat: attorney Dan Skolnik, real estate broker Tony Donovan, Farnsworth, and Capt. Bill Linnell, a lobsterman who runs a tow-boat operation. Though council and school board races are officially non-partisan, party politics are sure to be a factor here – as usual. Skolnik, Donovan and Farnsworth are all Democrats; Linnell said he’s running at the urging of the local Green Independent Party.
The race for two at-large council seats will also be fairly competitive. Incumbents Jim Cloutier and Jill Duson are running again. (Duson recently dropped plans to run for Congress next year.) They’re being challenged by John Anton, an outspoken former planning board member running with the support of local Greens.
Mark Reilly is back in the fray after having fallen short in a couple past attempts to get on the council, most recently in 2003, when he lost an at-large race to current Mayor Nick Mavodones. Reilly could not be reached for comment. The fifth candidate at-large council contender who turned in signatures is Rudy Clark, a first-time candidate who works for the U.S. Postal Service and ushers at Sea Dog games.
Staff at the city clerk’s office are still verifying some nomination signatures, so it’s possible a few candidates mentioned above won’t make it on the ballot. The verification process is expected to be complete by the end of this week.