Voters in Freeport will fill two seats on the Town Council and two seats on the regional school board on Tuesday.

On the council, at-large incumbent and current council Chairwoman Melanie Sachs is seeking her second three-year term, and is facing a challenge from newcomer Doreen Mae Christ, a former city councilor in Lewiston.

No one filed paperwork to officially run to replace District 4 councilor Andy Wellen. Whoever receives the most write-in votes will be offered the position, according to the town.

Meanwhile, three candidates are running to fill two seats on the RSU 5 board. Two are incumbents: Nelson Larkins, the longtime board chair, and John Morang. Jeremy Clough is challenging for one of the seats, and said he hopes to unseat Larkins.

Another school board candidate, Louise Brogan, is running unopposed for a one-year term.

TOWN COUNCIL

Melanie Sachs, incumbent, Candidate for At-large Town Councilor

Melanie Sachs

Sachs, 46, is the executive director of Freeport Community Services. She said her priorities on the council are to continue to push for sound fiscal management, data-driven decision-making and transparent governance.

She favored sending a potential fee on plastic and paper bags to a nonbinding citizen vote to gauge support, and said she looks forward to analyzing whether increased bus service between Freeport and Portland makes financial sense.

“What I tried very hard to do is whether we agree or disagree, I really try to make sure people understand how I reached the decision I made,” she said.

Doreen Mae Christ

Doreen Mae Christ

Christ served nearly two terms on the Lewiston City Council before resigning in September when she moved to Freeport.

She works for the city of Portland in the code enforcement office and holds part-time jobs at Shaw’s supermarket in Freeport, and as the recording secretary for the town of Monmouth.

“I’ve always wanted to know what’s going on (in Freeport), so I figured if I got in on the City Council I’d know everything that’s going on in town, and give back to the community,” Christ said.

She said she is skeptical that the fee on plastic and paper bags will gain traction, and believes the expanded bus service is much-needed for people who commute between Freeport and Portland.

SCHOOL BOARD

Nelson Larkins

Nelson Larkins

Larkins, 54, a partner at Portland law firm Preti Flaherty, has served on the board since the district’s creation, and wants to continue his role during what he sees as a turning point for the school system.

The RSU and its constituents are still recovering from an effort last year by a group in Freeport that sought to withdraw from the regional unit. The process highlighted divisions in the school community over taxes and education spending, but after the effort failed to garner enough support to continue, Larkins said he wants to promote cohesion and move the district forward.

In the next three years, Larkins said, the district will see its long-awaited high school renovation completed, and will embark on implementing new state achievement standards, as well as a new process for evaluating teachers.

Through creative fiscal management and a favorable construction market, Larkins said, the board managed to save money on its construction bond, and saw major bids for the renovation come in lower than expected, which together saved $1.5 million.

“I think we’ve done a good job of adding personnel and programming where we think we needed it, math and literacy strategists, leadership positions among the teachers,” Larkins said. “Those things cost money, but that’s where you get the results, from the people.”

Jeremy Clough

Jeremy Clough

Clough, 39, is an information and cyber security officer for Gorham Savings Bank. He has lived in Freeport for about five years and has two children in the district.

He said he is running because he disliked the way Larkins handled the Freeport withdrawal process, and believes he could do a better job balancing the interests of Freeport residents with the concerns of people in the other two communities.

Clough said he would like to see a greater emphasis at Freeport High School on engineering, science and technology.

“I’m definitely a collaborator,” Clough said. “I don’t prescribe to politics or those type things. Everybody on the board no doubt wants (what’s in) the best interest of the children, but I think I work in a collaborative manner to achieve our goals.”

Morang did not return multiple calls for comment.

 

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