WESTBROOK – Westbrook’s former finance director, who has been banned from City Hall, has won the nomination from Sunday’s Republican caucus to run for city clerk – though no one knows yet how she would do her job if she were to win.

“I guess I’ll find me an office at the public safety building,” said Sue Rossignol, 60, when asked where she would report to work if elected.

The caucus also nominated Bruce Chuluda to challenge Mayor Colleen Hilton in the mayor’s race. Chuluda served three consecutive terms as mayor, but then lost to Hilton in 2009 by less than 150 votes. That election happened amid scandal coming from sexual harassment lawsuits within the fire department. Now, Chuluda is getting ready for a rematch. Hilton has indicated she will seek re-election, and is expected to get the Democratic nomination at its caucus this Sunday.

After the Republican caucus, Chuluda said he looked forward to the upcoming race.

“I’m expecting a challenge, I guess, as with all elections,” he said.

Rossignol made headlines two years ago when Hilton eliminated her position as finance director. She replaced it with a chief financial officer position, which is now occupied by Dawn Ouelette.

Rossignol, who served the city for 32 years, has said she felt she was treated unfairly by her removal, and by a one-year ban from City Hall that came in March 2010. Hilton said Rossignol had approached her “begging” for her job back, and in a written complaint indicated that the former finance director made her feel “threatened and frightened.”

Not long after that ban expired, Rossignol was banned again in May 2011, after a series of visits to City Hall. Rossignol said they were routine visits to pay bills.

At the time, City Administrator Jerre Bryant declined to describe the city’s case in detail, but did say employees reported Rossignol was “making them feel very uncomfortable,” and called Rossignol’s actions “disruptive.”

Rossignol called the allegations that she was disruptive “lies,” and said if elected, she did not expect a hostile or difficult working environment.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “The employees I talked to (at City Hall) are fine.”

When asked how Rossignol would be able to come to City Hall to work if elected, Bryant said this week that he did not yet know how that legal issue would be addressed.

City Clerk Lynda Adams is expected to seek nomination for re-election at the Democratic caucus. Rossignol, when asked about her qualifications to challenge Adams, pointed to her years of experience working at City Hall.

“I’m certainly knowledgeable in both departments,” she said, referring to finance and the clerk’s office.

Since the nomination, Rossignol said, people have come up to her on the street and in the grocery store to wish her luck.

“I’ve had a lot of positive support,” she said.

In addition to the mayor, all seven city councilors are up for re-election this year, as well as the Ward 1, 2, and 5 School Committee members, plus one at-large School Committee member. Voters will also choose a new warden and ward clerk, as well as a new city clerk.

In Westbrook, any unenrolled, or non-Democrat, non-Republican candidates, are now free to obtain nomination papers from the city clerk’s office, but Democrats and Republicans must be officially nominated at their respective caucuses before they may run.

In addition to Chuluda and Rossignol, the committee nominated John O’Hara for one at-large City Council position. O’Hara, who described himself recently as the “lone wolf Republican on the council,” has held his position since the mid-1990s.

The committee also nominated Michael Lawson for the Ward 5 council seat held by City Councilor Mike Sanphy, and Ernest Porell for the Ward 4 council seat held by City Councilor Dorothy Aube.

Aube confirmed this week that she would not seek re-election. After three terms, she said, “I feel like I’ve done my time, and it’s time for somebody new.”

Porell said Sunday that he grew up in Westbrook, and his grandfather had served four terms as mayor. He is running this year, he said, out of frustration with what he feels is poor handling of taxpayer dollars, as evidenced by a more than 4 percent tax rate hike this year, along with thousands of dollars in settlement costs the city has paid over the last two years.

“I think the money could be managed better,” he said.

The party also nominated Margo Manette for warden, central voting; Patricia Haskell for Ward 1 clerk; Pamela Mooney for Ward 5 clerk; and Al Juniewicz for Ward 5 warden. The committee issued no further nominations.

The committee will have a follow-up meeting at the community center on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Sue Rossignol won the nomination from Sunday’s Republican caucus
to run for Westbrook city clerk. (File photo)

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