September 9, 2013

Familiar faces vying for public office in Biddeford

Mayor Alan Casavant is among the incumbents being challenged by a predecessor.

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD – A long list of experienced candidates will share the local ballot on Nov. 5 when city voters will choose a mayor and all nine city councilors.

Only five of the 19 City Council candidates who filed nomination papers before the deadline Friday have not previously served on the council.

Mayor Alan Casavant, a state representative who is seeking his second term as mayor, will defend his seat against challenges by former Mayor Joanne Twomey and Perry Aberle, who is the youngest person in Biddeford to ever be elected to the City Council.

Twomey served two terms as mayor before losing to Casavant in 2011. She also served six years on the City Council and was a state representative for eight years.

Aberle was 18 when he was elected to the City Council in 1993 for a single two-year term. City Clerk Carmen Morris said Aberle is the youngest person in Biddeford history to hold that position.

Casavant said he is not surprised he faces two opponents and is looking forward to debating issues such as tax rates and economic development. He expects much of the campaign season to focus on issues such as a proposed downtown parking garage and the redevelopment of the riverfront site formerly occupied by the Maine Energy Recovery Co. trash incinerator. 

"It's a very challenging and exciting time to be mayor," Casavant said. "Biddeford, over the past two years, has changed the paradigm of its perception to the outside world. We've become more business-friendly."

Twomey, known for being outspoken on issues such as education, said she decided to try for another term because she doesn't "like what's going on." She said she is concerned about rising property taxes and how Casavant has voted on various issues locally and in Augusta.

"I don't like when people vote for something and the mayor turns his back on it," she said. "You're not a public servant if you don't listen to the public."

Casavant faced some controversy earlier this year when he unsuccessfully sponsored legislation that would have allowed school boards to decide if schools could have residency requirements for superintendents. He introduced the bill after Biddeford voters rejected a charter change that would have eliminated the local residency requirement.

Aberle could not be reached for comment Monday. 

The City Council races include many familiar faces.

Council President Rick Laverriere will face an opponent for the Ward 6 seat for the first time since he was elected in November 2005. He is being challenged by Roger Hurtubise, a former city councilor.

In Ward 1, incumbent Michael Swanton is running against Ronald Peaker, a former city councilor who frequently speaks at council meetings and public hearings.

Councilor David Bourque is being challenged for his Ward 2 seat by newcomer Andrew Russell and John McCurry, a former city councilor.

Councilors Bradley Cote of Ward 3 and Michael Ready of Ward 7 are running unopposed. 

Councilor Melissa Bednarowski is not seeking a second term in Ward 4. Political newcomers Robert Quattrone Jr. and Dominic Deschambeault are vying for that seat.

In Ward 5, Councilor Bob Mills faces a challenge by Carol Boisjoly, who ran unsuccessfully two years ago to represent the ward, which includes much of the downtown area.

All but one of the six candidates for two at-large council seats have served previously as city councilors. Incumbents Roch Angers and Richard Rhames are each seeking another two-year term. Newcomer Daniel Parenteau is joined in the crowded field by former City Councilors James Emerson, Marc Lessard and Clement Fleurent.

Emerson currently sits on the School Committee.

There are seven open seats and seven candidates for two-year terms on the School Committee. Incumbents Laurie Jo Ready, Heather Mills, Bil Moriarty, Lisa Vadnais, Anthony Michaud and Tammy Fleurent are seeking re-election. Dennis Anglea, a member of the Wastewater Management Commission, is seeking his first term on the committee.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

ggraham@mainetoday.com

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