WESTBROOK – Only four of the 11 open seats in Westbrook’s political races are contested this year, but two – the City Council Ward 4 seat and the mayor’s job – will be three-way races.

Lynda Adams, city clerk, closed the nomination period for political hopefuls on Friday, Sept. 6, at 5 p.m., allowing the nominees nearly two months to campaign.

The day before, the city’s Democratic Party held its caucus, and many incumbents are running again. For the City Council, Brendan Rielly will run unopposed to keep his Ward 1 seat, incumbent Victor Chau will face Republican Matt Maloney for the Ward 2 seat, Paul Emery will run for his Ward 3 seat unopposed, incumbent Mike Sanphy will run unopposed for his Ward 5 seat and Mike Foley will run unopposed for the three-year at-large council seat he holds.

Veronica Bates, the Democrat who holds the Ward 2 School Committee seat, is running for a two-year at-large City Council seat against John O’Hara, the only Republican on the council. If Bates wins, she will resign from the school board.

Candidates for the Ward 4 council race are Democrat Ann Peoples, who represents District 125 in the Maine House of Representatives and has previously held City Council and Planning Board seats; Republican Sue Rossingnol, Westbrook’s former finance director who was once banned from City Hall after being accused of harassing Mayor Colleen Hilton; and Gary Rairdon, an unenrolled candidate. Rairdon has never held office, before but he did run against Dottie Aube, the incumbent Ward 4 councilor, last year. Rairdon said he lost to her by 33 votes. Aube will not run in this election.

The mayoral race is already heating up among the three candidates – Hilton, who is seeking her third term, Republican Ernest Porell and independent James Tranchemontagne.

Porell’s website, www.porellformayor.com, said his priorities will be to keep projects moving forward, change or alter ordinances that discourage business owners from moving to Westbrook and to enhance the downtown in both appearance and functionality.

“Westbrook needs more than money, it needs hope, it needs motiviation, it needs to believe that someone in the office cares enough to actually do something,” he said.

Hilton, who made a quick speech after her nomination during the caucus, addressed some of the charges made by Tranchemontagne, who is using his Facebook page, James for Mayor, as a platform.

On the page, Tranchemontagne said that he is running against “a very wealthy CEO who makes four times” more than he does, referring to Hilton’s job as the CEO of VNA Home Health Hospice.

On Monday night, at his campaign launch at his Westbrook restaurant, the Frog and Turtle, Tranchemontagne outlined his platform, which included lowering the city tax rate from $17.20 per $1,000 in assessed valuation to $14.96; realigning the code office to make Westbrook more business friendly; changing the marketing in Westbrook; helping to end generational welfare and get people training who are on welfare so they can find better employment; and bringing arts and music back into Westbrook.

“I believe in his vision of fiscal management in the city. He believes in helping kids and he loves this city. He’s got some great ideas and he doesn’t just talk, he does,” said Deb Shangraw on Monday evening. Shangraw started Westbrook Taxpayers United, a local taxpayer watchdog group, with Tranchemontagne.

In her speech at the caucus, Hilton said the kind of tax cut Tranchemontagne is promoting would be “devastating” to the city. She is not wealthy, she said, and she hoped the reminder of the race would be positive and focus on the issues, including budgets for both the school and city.

For the three open seats on the school board, two Democratic newcomers, Noreen Poitras and Mike Popovic, will run unopposed for the wards 3 and 4 seats, respectively. Ed Symbol will not run again for his Ward 3 seat. Ward 4 incumbent Mary Hall lost her ward nomination to Popovic. Hall then tried to run for the at-large seat against incumbent Suzanne Joyce. Joyce won the nomination for the three-year term seat over Hall.

The election is Tuesday, Nov. 5.

James Tranchemontagne kicked off his mayoral campaign Monday at his Westbrook restaurant, the Frog and Turtle.Democratic nominees include, from left, Brendan Rielly, City Council Ward 1; Suzanne Joyce, School Committee at-large; Victor Chau, City Council Ward 2; Mike Popovic, School Committee Ward 4; Paul Emery, City Council Ward 3, Mike Foley, City Council at-large; Mike Sanphy, City Council Ward 5; Mayor Colleen Hilton; Ann Peoples, City Council Ward 4; and Noreen Poitras, School Committee Ward 3.

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