SOUTH PORTLAND — It’s slim pickings in the school board races this year, but board chairman Richard Matthews is hoping to beef up ballot choices.

Only one candidate – Otis Thompson of 46 Hillside Ave. – qualified to run for the District 2 seat, which represents the west side of the city. And no one submitted nomination papers to run for the District 1 seat, which represents the east side, near Bug Light Park, Southern Maine Community College and Willard Beach.

“I’m really surprised,” said Matthews, noting that residents of District 1 are known for being politically active and concerned about the city’s schools.

Matthews said he has asked a few people to consider mounting a write-in campaign for District 1 without success yet, but he’s not giving up.

“I will be beating the pavement over the next few weeks, hoping to come up with someone,” Matthews said.

Each district representative is elected by all city voters. Although the city clerk’s office tallies ballots by machine, election workers will hand-count write-in votes for seats without qualified candidates or contested races.

If there isn’t a clear winner in the District 1 race, the City Council will appoint someone to fill the seat for one year, when the office will appear on the November 2017 ballot, said City Clerk Emily Scully.

Meanwhile, the City Council is set to interview three candidates on Monday who applied to be appointed to the District 5 school board seat, Matthews said.

Tappan Fitzgerald II resigned from the seat in September for personal reasons, triggering a process to fill the post for the remaining year in his three-year term. Because the Nov. 8 municipal ballot was already set, the council will appoint someone to fill the seat until an election is held in November 2017.

Matthews said the council is expected to interview the candidates – Bruce Bennett, Ryan Edwards and Elyse Tipton – during a special workshop Monday and vote to appoint one of them at the regular meeting that follows.