The Gorham Town Council will have a pair of new faces on the seven-member board after Nov. 6, with two incumbents not seeking re-election.

Claude “Fred” Daigle, Lee Pratt and Virginia Wilder Cross are running for two open three-year seats. Councilors Sherrie Benner and Marla Stelk have bowed out.

The council will face key issues that include a probable referendum next year to remedy an aging and overcrowded high school, rising property taxes and a population that has risen to an estimated 17,346 from 16,381 in 2010. The high school is designed for 750 students, but housed 870 when school opened this fall.

Pratt, a 37-year-old financial executive, is making his second bid for a council seat. He finished third in a four-way race last year.

Regarding a proposed high school renovation and expansion project, Pratt said that something must be done but wants to see the costs before committing a specific plan.

Pratt wants to see more commercial growth and to stabilize the tax rate. “Attracting new business is key for me,” he said.

Daigle, 49, is the owner of a property services company. He is making his first political run and wants to keep Gorham schools in the state’s top tier.

Daigle said there are big issues to decide but he reserved specific comment until gathering facts and talking with town department heads.

Daigle wants the town and schools to run responsibly and to prosper. He said the town is in debt and “I don’t like that.”

Cross, a retired teacher who did not give her age, is also seeking her first political office. She wants better management of the town’s growth, and supports improvements to the high school.

Cross wants improvement without “taxes going nuts.”

Cross suggested exploring a formula for new housing that would allow 85 percent of new permits for single-family homes and 15 percent for condos and apartments.

Robert Lowell can be reached at 854-2577 or at: [email protected]

 

Read this story in The American Journal.