Waterville Democratic city committee leaders say they expect to identify a candidate for mayor to compete with the Republican nominee this fall by the time the party caucuses a week from Sunday.

Alicia Barnes, Waterville Democratic Committee co-chairwoman, said local party leaders hope to have a candidate to endorse at the caucus, scheduled for 6 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 3 at Waterville Senior High School.

The Republicans caucused earlier this week and nominated banker Nick Isgro, a controller with Skowhegan Savings Bank, as the party’s candidate for mayor of Waterville.

While Democrats hold a big advantage in city voter registration, party leaders are taking Isgro’s run seriously.

Barnes said party leaders will keep the GOP choice for mayor in mind as it picks a nominee.

“We know that Nick is running so we need to find someone that can run against him,” said Barnes.

As recently as 2011, Waterville elected a Republican as mayor, when Paul LePage won his second term. LePage resigned in January 2011, hours before being sworn in as the state’s 74th governor.

In 1977, Republican nominee Paul Laverdiere won the first of two terms as mayor. Between the terms of Republicans Laverdiere and LePage, city voters elected four Democrats and five persons with no formal affiliation with either party.

The city charter allows candidates to qualify for the ballot by getting signatures on nomination papers, in addition to the nominees selected at the caucuses held by the major parties.

Nomination petitions for mayor must be signed by 15 to 25 registered voters in each of the city’s seven wards of the city.

The current mayor, Karen Heck, was elected as an unenrolled candidate. Heck has said she will not seek re-election. The deadline for petition candidates for mayor is 60 days before the Nov. 4 election.

Mayor is just one of the 19 offices on the ballot for which party caucuses nominate candidates.

The offices include:

• Ward 1: ward clerk

• Ward 2: City Council, Board of Education, warden and ward clerk

• Ward 3: warden and ward clerk positions

• Ward 4: City Council, Board of Education, warden and ward clerk

• Ward 5: warden and ward clerk

• Ward 6: City Council, Board of Education, warden and ward clerk

• Ward 7: warden and ward clerk

Barnes said Democratic leaders are trying to assemble a slate with the right people to match with the seats up for election to the various offices on the ballot.

She said convincing people to run is easier if local Democrats understands that there are range of openings, ranging from positions such as city councilor, which requires knowledge of how city government works, to entry level spots such as wardens and ward clerks. She said social media is a good way to connect with active members.

“I want to reach out to people that want to get more involved,” she said. “We want to make sure we have the people who are most qualified and skilled for the position.”

Democratic City Councilors Erik Thomas, Ward 4, and Dana Bushee, Ward 6, have both said they plan to run for re-election, while Councilor Edward Lachowicz, Ward 2, said he is looking to see if there are other interested candidates.

Barnes said she previously served as a ward clerk for Ward 4 and said working at the polls on election day is a good way to get involved without the pressures that come with higher ranking positions.

“It’s a good experience to be a part of it without the partisanship. You can’t wear buttons. You can’t talk about politics. It was good experience to have,” she said.

If anyone is interested in any of the seats, Barnes said she encourages them to contact either of the co-chairmen of the Waterville party before the event at 660-3663 or 877-5297.

At a caucus, procedurally, any party member from the city may be nominated for a spot without prior notice.

As of June 10, there were 4,565 registered Democrats on the rolls in Waterville. There were 1,944 Republicans and 357 voters enrolled in the Green Party, while 4,207 were not enrolled in a party.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]

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