New South Portland city councilors and school board members were sworn in Monday and elected their new leaders.

Councilors unanimously selected Katherine Lewis to serve as mayor for the next year.

Lewis, who also was mayor in 2020, said the council has “a lot of work facing us in the year ahead.”

“Some of the decisions we make might make a difference in how many people can stay in their homes,” she said. “They might have significant impacts on the health and safety for our residents, and the decisions might affect the quality of life here in South Portland for years to come.”


Lewis thanked Councilor Deqa Dhalac “for serving us all flawlessly” as mayor in 2022. Dhalac was elected to the Maine House of Representatives in November.

“It has been an honor serving you as your mayor for the past year,” Dhalac said. “Thank you, councilors, thank you, staff, and thank you (to) the people of South Portland for entrusting me with this great responsibility and privilege, for choosing me as your mayor.”


The council also recognized Councilor Susan Henderson, who served two consecutive terms since 2016, but did not seek reelection in November.

“I always think of you as a kind, compassionate, caring person who brings all of those values in full force to every moment on this council; during our meetings, in between meetings,” said Councilor Misha Pride. “You truly led with the heart, and I think that is something we all need to hear from time to time. I really did value your voice. Thank you so much, and we will surely miss you.”

Councilors Richard Matthews and Natalie West were sworn in, replacing Henderson and Katelyn Bruzgo, who resigned earlier this year.

School Board members Susan Rauscher, Tandy Ratliff and Molly Schen were also sworn in to serve Districts 1, 2 and 4, respectively.

“I really hope and think that our entire community should be very grateful for your willingness to perform public service,” said board member Elyse Tipton. “It’s not for the faint of heart.”

The board chose Jennifer Ryan as its chairperson, replacing Tipton, and Schen was named vice-chairperson.

The board’s District 3 seat remains vacant after Hannah Bitjoka resigned last month. That seat will be filled by appointment by the City Council at its Dec. 20 meeting.

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