Town Clerk Laurie Nordfors administers the oath of office to newly elected Gorham town councilors, from left, Seven Siegel, Philip Gagnon and Rob Lavoie. Robert Lowell / American Journal

The Gorham Town Council with three newly elected members has chosen Lee Pratt to continue as chairperson with Councilor Ronald Shepard as vice chairperson.

Pratt, 41, has been the chair of the seven-member board since November 2020.

“I’m honored to be the Town Council chair this year,” Pratt said Wednesday in an email to the American Journal. “While the chair is responsible for helping set the agenda and running the meetings, all the work is credited to the council.”


Shepard, 74, could not be reached for comment early Wednesday.

Town Clerk Laurie Nordfors administered the oath of office Tuesday to newly elected councilors Philip Gagnon, Rob Lavoie and Seven Siegel, who were elected Nov. 8 for three-year terms. They replaced Janet Kuech, who ran strong but lost her seat, and James Hager and Benjamin Hartwell, who didn’t seek reelection.

The vote to keep Pratt in the leadership position was 6-1, with Gagnon opposed.


“Mr. Pratt’s wife works for the school department now, and during the operational meeting he indicated he would not meet or conduct any town business with the Schools Department,” Gagnon told the American Journal Wednesday. “As he cannot perform his full duties as chair, I believe he is not the right path for the Town Council due to his conflicts of interest.”

Pratt dismissed Gagnon’s concern.

“My wife is an ed tech at the Gorham Middle School and the assistant varsity coach of the Gorham field hockey team. I always disclose this before any motions are made and offer myself to be recused from the item,” Pratt said Wednesday. “I do not feel as though this disqualifies me from filling my duties as chair and neither did the other five members of the council who voted to seat me as chair. This wasn’t a problem with me as chair last year and will not be one this year.”

With a spiraling upward population, the town faces increased strains on providing services, updating the Comprehensive Plan, a rising tax burden on homeowners, and an overcrowded, aging high school.

Pratt said he’s looking forward to working with the council to keep the momentum that has built over the past years.

“I am also looking forward to hearing the points of views of the newly sworn-in council members,” he said.

The council voted unanimously in favor of Shepard as vice chairperson, who has served once previously in that position.


“I’m honored that the council elected me to that post,”  Shepard said. “I’ll do my best to uphold the standards expected of me.”

The council and outgoing members exchanged farewells Tuesday and Pratt presented plaques to Hager, Hartwell and Kuech.

Kuech was elected in November 2019, but the council initially denied seating her because she was a town employee at Narragansett Elementary School. The board agreed in February 2020 to seat her after she brought legal action.

On the Gorham School Committee, Darryl Wright was selected as chairperson with Sarah Perkins, as vice chairperson, according to Superintendent Heather Perry.


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