AUGUSTA — There will be a contested race for an at-large seat on the City Council in November, but no candidates ended up filing nomination papers to run for a Ward 2 seat on the Board of Education.

Incumbent Councilor Jennifer Day and challenger Christopher Clarke both filed nomination papers with the city by the deadline, which was the end of the day Tuesday, to seek an at-large council seat up for election in November.

It will be the only contested race on the ballot.

No candidates filed papers to run for the Ward 2 Board of Education seat currently held by Deborah Towle, who will be forced from the seat by the city’s term limits, which have a limit of three consecutive, three-year terms.

Edward Hastings, currently an at-large school board member re-elected to a term that just began in January, is the only candidate for chairman of the school board.

Current Chairwoman Kim Martin is prevented from seeking to retain her seat due to the city’s term limits, according to Stephen Langsdorf, city attorney, though Martin said she was surprised by that decision.

Langsdorf said the city charter explicitly states board members, including the chairperson, are limited to three, three-year terms. And he said that rule applies even if the school board member in question doesn’t serve all three years of a term. He said that is meant to prevent someone from resigning before their term is up and running again right away for a new three-year term, to get around the term limits. He said the only exception to that is if the initial term of a member is less than 18 months long, because they’re filling a vacancy on the board.

Martin was elected chairwoman of the school board in 2014. She was first elected as an at-large member of the school board in November of 2010, and served that full term before being re-elected to her at-large spot in November of 2013. She resigned the at-large spot one year into the term when she ran and was elected as chairwoman in 2014, having served four years on the board as an at-large member.

Martin, who by the end of this term will have served seven years on the school board, said Wednesday she “had been considering running again, and was surprised by the decision about term limits. I was disappointed in the new interpretation.”

Martin said Sue Campbell, who held the school board chairwoman’s position prior to Martin, served three full, three-year terms as a school board member, was forced out by term limits, but then ran for and won the chairperson’s position, which she held until 2014 when she did not seek re-election.

Langsdorf said the city charter was changed during the time-frame Campbell was serving and she was elected under the terms of the previous charter language. Also, he noted, no one expressed any concerns about Campbell running at the time, so he wasn’t asked for an opinion about it.

“If there was any potential issue at that point, nobody raised it,” Langsdorf said of when Campbell may have been elected as chairwoman after having served three consecutive three-year terms as a board member. “Even if there was a mistake made and it happened, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t properly interpret the charter now. I’m interpreting this charter.”

Two candidates actually took out papers to run for the Ward 2 school board seat, Jason Bersani and Jim Paulette, but neither of them turned in completed papers, and both withdrew from the race.

City Clerk Roberta Fogg said that leaves no candidates for the Ward 2 school board seat, leaving it to potentially be filled by a write-in candidate, if any residents declare themselves to be official write-in candidates for the spot.

Bersani withdrew from the Ward 2 school board race and instead filed papers, and will be the only candidate on the ballot, for the at-large Board of Education seat currently held by Jennifer Neumeyer, who did not seek re-election.

Paulette, who also took out nomination papers for Ward 2 school board but didn’t file them, said Wednesday he withdrew because, after careful consideration, he realized he didn’t think he had a good skill set for the position.

Paulette, who in 2016 ran unsuccessfully for City Council, against Mark O’Brien and Corey Wilson, said he does not intend to run for the school board spot as a write-in candidate, either. He said, instead, he plans to seek to become involved in a city government-related committee. And he said in the future he’ll consider running again for the City Council, which he said would be a better fit for his skill set and interest.

“I was looking to contribute something (by running for the school board) but I realized I couldn’t bring anything to the job, so I’d rather not be in that position,” Paulette said.

Day has only been a city councilor since she was elected in June to fill the remainder of the unexpired at-large term left vacant when Jeffrey Bilodeau resigned from the council in February. Challenger Clarke has not held local political office.

Incumbent Ward 1 Councilor Linda Conti is the only candidate for the Ward 1 position.

And Eric Lind is the only candidate to take out papers to seek the Ward 4 City Council spot now held by Anna Blodgett, who is not seeking re-election.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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