A crowded field of potential candidates for municipal offices is emerging in Biddeford, at least partly as a result of the simmering controversy over allegations of sexual abuse against a Biddeford police officer.

Residents in November will elect a mayor, nine city councilors and seven school committee members, and a number of the candidates are relatives and supporters of Matt Lauzon, whose allegations of abuse have touched off months of contentious city council meetings. Lauzon’s supporters have vowed on social media to seek a change in city leadership.

Nomination papers must be turned in to the city clerk’s office by Sept. 3. As of Friday, 21 people had taken out nomination papers, including several who took out papers for more than one seat.

“It seems there is more interest this year,” said City Clerk Carmen Morris.

It is likely that much of the campaigning and pre-election discussion in the city will involve the sex-abuse scandal that has dominated city politics for months. Lauzon, a Boston businessman, went public this year with allegations that he was sexually assaulted by a Biddeford police officer who has since retired. For the past four months, nearly every city council meeting has included comments from Lauzon, other alleged victims of abuse and their supporters calling on city officials to take action, including suspending longtime Police Chief Roger Beaupre.

City officials say Lauzon’s allegations are currently under investigation by the Maine Attorney General’s Office and they can say little else about the situation. The city council in May enacted an ordinance restricting where registered sex offenders can live. In June, the council passed a resolution against suspending Beaupre because there is no indication of wrongdoing on his part.

Mayor Alan Casavant announced earlier this year that he would seek a third term, but has not yet taken out nomination papers. Daniel Parenteau and Toni Sipka have both taken out papers to run for mayor.

Bob Mills of Ward 5 and Michael Swanton of Ward 1 are the only sitting city councilors who had taken out nomination papers as of Friday.

Melissa Bednarowski, who served as the Ward 4 city councilor, will run for councilor-at-large. She is president of Stand Up 4 ME, an organization to support sexual abuse victims started by Lauzon’s supporters.

Bradley Russell and Karen Russell have each taken out papers for the Ward 1 city council seat. Carol Boisjoly, who ran for council two years ago, is seeking the Ward 5 council seat.

Terry Belanger, who has spoken in support of sexual abuse victims at city meetings, is seeking the Ward 4 city council seat.

Robert Provencher, a supporter of Lauzon who often speaks at city meetings, has taken out nomination papers for mayor, the Ward 6 council seat and the Charter Review Commission.

Debra Lauzon, the mother of Matt Lauzon, has taken out papers for both the Ward 6 council seat and for councilor-at-large. Doris McAuliffe, who has spoken at council meetings about being sexually abused by a police officer, took out papers for the Ward 7 council seat and for councilor-at-large.

Also seeking the Ward 7 seat are Laura Seaver, Bernard Neveux and Charlene Dutremble. Seaver previously served on the school committee and currently is on the policy committee. Neveux is a member of the Capital Projects/Operations Committee. Dutremble is the wife of state Sen. David Dutremble and often speaks publicly in support of Lauzon and other alleged sexual abuse victims.

Current school board members William Moriarty, Heather Mills, Dennis Anglea and Lisa Vadnais have taken out papers to run for re-election. Kathleen Russell, Karen Ruel and Timothy Pierce have also taken out papers to run for the School Committee.

To qualify for the ballot, candidates for the School Committee or council by ward must collect the signatures of 25 registered voters.

Candidates running for councilor-at-large must submit 50 signatures and mayoral candidates need 125 signatures.

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

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