AUGUSTA — November’s election is going to bring a relatively high turnover to the Augusta City Council, no matter who wins.

Two councilors — Ward 1 Councilor Michael Byron and Ward 4 Councilor Mark O’Brien — will leave the council after the election, because they have reached the city’s three-term, nine-year limit for councilors.

Several familiar faces in local politics and government already have taken out nomination papers to seek the spots that will be vacated with the veteran councilors’ departures.

Anna Blodgett, a former Democratic state representative, and Julie O’Brien, a former Republican state representative and wife of Mark O’Brien, have taken out nomination papers potentially to seek the Ward 4 seat currently held by Mark O’Brien.

Three candidates, each with experience in local government, took out nomination papers for Byron’s Ward 1 seat: Stanley Koski and Mary Mayo-Wescott, both former city councilors; and Linda Conti, who is on the Augusta Planning Board.

With O’Brien and Byron unable to run again because of term limits, the only incumbent councilor on the November ballot will be Jeffrey Bilodeau, an at-large councilor. So far, he is the only candidate to take out nomination papers for that council seat.

Nomination papers have been available for about a week, though some candidates might drop out, as they are under no obligation to run just because they took out papers. That commitment is made if and when they return completed nomination papers, which are due back at Augusta City Center by 4:30 p.m. Aug. 19, according to Barbara Wardwell, city clerk.

The city’s term limits prevent a councilor from running for another term if he or she already has served three consecutive, three-year terms on the council. While they still may run for mayor or the school board, neither Byron nor O’Brien, a former school board chairman and member, has taken out papers to run for any other city or school position in Augusta.

Byron said he does not plan to run for mayor, but he is interested in remaining involved in government in Augusta.

He said he might ask to be considered for an appointment to the Planning Board, and he said he’d like to remain involved, as a citizen, in two city committees he participates on as a councilor, the Tax Increment Financing Subcommittee and the Community and Social Services Advisory Committee.

“I’m a young 78. I’m not ready to hang up the boots yet,” Byron said. “I don’t know yet what I’ll be doing. Augusta is finally on the move. I’d still like to be, in some way, a part of that.”

Three positions are up for election on the Board of Education: chairperson, the Ward 2 seat and an at-large seat now held by Larry Ringrose.

Neither Ringrose nor current Chairperson Susan Campbell has taken out papers to seek re-election to those posts, according to Wardwell.

The only school board candidates to take out papers so far are incumbent Ward 2 board member Deborah Towle and Kimberly Martin, who holds an at-large position on the board but took out papers to seek election as chairperson.

To have their names placed on the ballot, candidates for local offices must obtain the signatures of registered voters, with the number varying depending on which position they’re seeking. Candidates for council or school board ward seats must collect at least 50 valid signatures, while candidates for at-large positions on either of those panels must collect at least 100. Candidates for mayor or school board chairperson must collect at least 200 valid signatures, according to Wardwell.

Not on the ballot, yet, is the mayor’s position now held by William Stokes.

Stokes has been nominated by Gov. Paul LePage as a superior court justice, and he could be confirmed for that job by the Maine Senate as soon as July 31. If he is confirmed as a judge, he can no longer be mayor, so Stokes said he would resign as mayor that day if his nomination to become a justice is successful.

Wardwell said there probably is time for the city to place the mayor’s position on the November ballot if Stokes resigns July 31.

David Rollins, an at-large city councilor, already has announced he intends to run for the remaining 14 months of Stokes’ term as mayor if and when Stokes becomes a court justice.

No other potential candidates have announced they intend to seek the not-yet-vacant mayor’s spot if Stokes becomes a justice.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj


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