Given enough time, all things change. And, change is apparently coming to Augusta city politics. Early indications are that, after a recent history of male-dominated city councils, Augusta government may be on the verge of a change of gender composition.

Nomination papers for the November election are available at city center. Term limits are creating open seats in Wards 1 and 4, and early strong contenders for those seats are from the distaff side.

Planning board member Linda Conti, who works in the attorney general’s office, is eyeing a run for Mike Byron’s soon-to-be-vacated Ward 1 seat. Former councilor Stan Koski, who came within a whisker of defeating former Mayor Bill Dowling’s re-election bid in 2003, will be a formidable opponent in his home ward. Mary Mayo Wescott also may try one more time.

Meanwhile, former state legislator Anna Blodgett contemplates a run in Ward 4 as Mark O’Brien’s successor. Another former legislator, David Madore, is considering a run.

Others undoubtedly may be interested in running for the two open seats. Jeff Bilodeau will seek re-election for his at-large seat. All candidates have until Aug. 17 to file.

If Dave Rollins is elected mayor, an at-large council seat will be open, to be filled in a special election after Nov. 4.

If a woman should seek and win that seat, along with possible November victories for Conti and Blodgett, the Augusta City Council suddenly could have complete gender equality — four women and four men.

Dale McCormick, recently elected to the council, no longer would be the lone woman. She and fellow councilors, Pat Paradis and Cecil Munson, reportedly have talked with the two new female council candidates.

The city also has big news on the school board side: Chairwoman Sue Campbell will not run for re-election. Kim Martin, an at-large member who has exhibited leadership abilities at school board meetings, hopes to succeed her. Larry Ringrose’s at-large seat is up for grabs, since he will not seek re-election, and Deb Towle will run again for her Ward 2 position.

In other news: The latest on Augusta Mayor William Stokes’ judicial nomination is that the state Senate will convene on July 31 to vote on the appointment.

All indications are that Stokes will receive confirmation as a superior court justice. Before assuming his position, however, he must resign as mayor.

Assuming that happens, it will trigger a rush to make sure that a special election to replace the mayor can be held in conjunction with the Nov. 4 statewide election.

The tentative scenario looks like release of nomination papers for the special election for mayor right after Stokes’ judgeship confirmation, with a short window for return of petitions. The Augusta city clerk says that papers have to be returned no later than 60 days before an election, so in order to make the Nov. 4 ballot, the deadline would be Sept. 4.

Stokes’ final council meeting is probably tonight.

Speculation already has begun about who the council will name interim mayor for the three months until the Nov. 4 election.

In 2011, when Mayor Roger Katz resigned after being elected to the state Senate, Councilors Pat Paradis and Dave Rollins split the assignment of interim mayor. At that time, the council decided that no councilor intending to run for the permanent position of mayor would be considered for the interim position. The council intends to apply the same procedure this time.

Departing Ward 4 councilor Mark O’Brien, who, by virtue of his 25 years of service in various municipal elected positions, leads the contenders for interim mayor.

The person elected mayor in November to complete Stokes’ term would need to run again for a three-year term at the end of 2015.

Another interesting note: Although the Augusta municipal election is nonpartisan, after the next election, it may be difficult to find any office holder who is a Republican. Council candidates Conti and Blodgett are both Democrats.

The councilors leaving office, Byron and O’Brien, may be the last of a vanishing breed in Augusta city politics — perhaps in more ways than one.

Don Roberts is a former city councilor and vice chairman of the Charter Commission in Augusta. He is a trustee of the Greater Augusta Utility District, and a representative to the Legislative Policy Committee of Maine Municipal Association.


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