September 9, 2013

Westbrook set to choose mayor, seven councilors

This November will be the last time that all seven City Council seats are up for election at once.

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WESTBROOK — The field of candidates is set for municipal elections Nov. 5, when voters will choose a mayor and all seven city councilors.

Two candidates will try to unseat Mayor Colleen Hilton, a Democrat running for her third term.

Voters will choose among Hilton, Republican Ernest Porell and James Tranchemontagne, who is unenrolled, as their mayor for the next three years. Voters last November approved extending the mayoral term to three years from two, one of several changes that were made to the city's charter.

Hilton, the chief executive officer of VNA Home Health & Hospice in South Portland, and Porell, the grandson of a former mayor, were nominated at their respective party's caucuses. Tranchemontagne, the owner of The Frog & Turtle restaurant in Westbrook, had to submit to the city 75 signatures, 15 from each ward, to get on the ballot.

The deadline to get on the ballot for any city seat up for election in November was 5 p.m. Friday.

An open seat for a two-year term on the City Council in Ward 4 will pit state Rep. Ann Peoples, a Democrat who is term-limited in the Maine House of Representatives, against Republican Susan Rossignol, a former city finance director who has clashed with the mayor, and Gary Rairdon, an unenrolled candidate. The Ward 4 seat has been held for eight years by Dotty Aube, who is not seeking re-election.

This will be the last time all seven council seats are up for election at once. Among the recent changes to the charter were to stagger the election of councilors and to extend council terms from two to three years.

In order to transition to staggered elections, four councilors will run for three-year terms in November and three will run for two-year terms.

Incumbent Democrats Brendan Rielly, Victor Chau, Mike Sanphy and Mike Foley will run for three-year terms on the council.

Challenging Chau for the Ward 2 seat is Republican Matt Maloney, creating a repeat matchup from the last election in 2011.

Rielly, who represents Ward 1, and Foley, an at-large councilor, are both running unopposed.

Incumbent Paul Emery, a Democrat representing Ward 3, is running unopposed for a two-year term.

Incumbent Republican John O'Hara, an at-large councilor, is running for a two-year seat against Veronica Bates, a School Committee member, who was nominated by the Democratic Party after its caucus. If elected, she would have to give up her school board seat.

All of the other party candidates were nominated at their caucuses, but party affliations will not be included on the ballot, another charter change approved last year.

The same goes for School Committee candidates.

School Committee elections are already staggered, but terms will be shortened from four to three years.

Newcomers Noreen Poitras and Mike Popovic, both Democrats, are running for school board seats representing Ward 3 and Ward 4, respectively.

Those seats are currently held by Ed Symbol, who is not running, and Mary Hall, who lost the Democratic nomination for an at-large seat to Suzanne Joyce, the incumbent.

Joyce is running unopposed in November. She was indicted in May on a charge of obstructing a Westbrook police investigation, but that case was dismissed Friday.

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

lbridgers@pressherald.com


This story was updated at 11:02 a.m., Sept. 9, 2013, to include the candidacy of Veronica Bates.

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