PEAKS ISLAND – More than 150 residents had weighed in early Saturday on the question of whether the community should make another attempt to secede from Portland.

a 2-1 margin, those early voters said “yes,” though the significance of the preliminary tally remains to be seen.

“I think, in many ways, I don’t feel like this is anything more than just taking a temperature,” said Scott Kelley, a member of the island’s council.

Residents cast paper votes Saturday after a town meeting to debate the issue. Kelley said he did not attend the meeting, which started at 9 a.m., but was present for the preliminary vote count at 2 p.m.

With some electronic votes left to tally, Kelley said he did not think there would be enough to overturn the 96 affirmatives among registered voters, with 48 in the negative. Unregistered voters were also allowed to voice their opinion, and eight supported secession, while three did not.

The island tried to secede from Portland four years ago; the bid failed at the legislative level.

While some residents feel chances would be better with the current Republican majority, Kelley said it will still take a lot of effort that the council is unwilling to commit.

“The council has taken no stand on secession at all. We’ve facilitated this straw poll, but at this point we do not have the wherewithal to move forward with it,” he said.

Now that this vote has shown interest from community members, he said, a group of individuals will need to step up to move this forward.

“It really does have to go to the state. Now it’s a matter of who’s got the stuff to do that. It was a frustrating process last time,” he said.

A state legislator must be convinced to submit a bill before the filing deadline in early January.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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