SOUTH PORTLAND — City Councilor Claude Morgan lost his reelection bid Tuesday to newcomer Jocelyn Leighton, while voters elected two new at-large members to the school board.

Leighton won the seat with 7,327 votes against Morgan’s 6,336 votes. The city clerk recorded 2,335 blank ballots and 109 write-ins.

“I’m very surprised,” Leighton said in an interview Wednesday. “I’m a little speechless. I’m very humbled by the results.”

Jocelyn Leighton Eric J Piskura photo

Leighton, 37, is an office manager at SPACE gallery in Portland. She has a Bachelor of Art degree with a major in arts and humanities and a double minor in women and gender studies and mathematics from the University of Southern Maine. Prior to the election, Leighton pledged to advocate for COVID-related funding and grants for social services to assist with “living costs, accessibility and childcare.”

In a previous interview, Leighton said she wanted to address what she called “the system of oppression within our culture,” and improve racial diversity in the city.

“I will work directly with the Human Rights Commission to deconstruct whiteness and foster equity in our community,” Leighton said.

On Wednesday, Leighton said she was excited to get to work, renewing her pledge to tackle racism and related discrimination issues in the city.

“We clearly have issues in this country, and (solving them) starts on a local level,” she said.

Morgan, 59, a collections manager at Dirigo Federal Credit Union, has served the city for the past 15 years – including time on the city council, where he also was a former mayor. He was past chairperson of the Cumberland County Charter Commission and also served twice on the former Greater Portland Economic Development Committee.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” he said.

When asked why he thought he lost, Morgan said, “It’s speculation, but clearly folks wanted a change, and I respect that. When a community wants change, you don’t want to stand in the way.”

Morgan said he was taking “what I consider a well-deserved rest,” and then he would decide whether he would run again.

“I’m just going to keep myself open to whatever the world presents to me,” he said.

On the school board, Claire Holman, with 6,709 votes, and Jennifer Ryan, with 6,559 votes, took the at-large seats being vacated by Board Members Mary House and Heather Johnson. Jake Kulaw received 4,619 votes, and Jeffrey Selser received 4,532 votes. The clerk recorded 9,648 blank ballots and 147 write-ins.

Sean Murphy 780-9094

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