AUGUSTA — One of the two candidates for an at-large seat on the City Council has withdrawn from the race and will run, instead, as a write-in candidate to represent Ward 2 on the Board of Education.

Chris Clarke, who had submitted nomination papers to be an official candidate for an available at-large spot on the City Council, withdrew from the race Monday. His withdrawal leaves incumbent Jennifer Day as the only candidate for the seat.

Instead of the council, Clarke intends to run as a write-in candidate for a Ward 2 Board of Education seat, for which no candidates filed nomination papers to be on the ballot. As of this week, he’s the only candidate to declare as a write-in for the school board seat.

Clarke said he decided to withdraw and run for the school board, instead of the council, after talking with Rep. Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta, a mentor of his. Clarke said he’s interested in finding ways the city can attract new residents by helping to improve the schools. He said he talked to Day and learned “we were pretty much on the same page” on city issues. Also, he heard there were no candidates for the school board seat and the spot could go unfilled, all of which led him to decide to run for the school board and drop out of the contested race for the council.

“I met with Matt Pouliot and sat down to talk to him about my ideas, and we got talking and he talked about how the real foundation of a community is the school system, and how important it is the schools be competitive, that people want their kids to go to your schools,” the 30-year-old Clarke said Wednesday. “Good schools can attract people. My main goal as a city councilor would have been to raise revenue and lower taxes. And the No. 1 way to do that is to get more people to move to the city — get more people, and businesses, paying taxes.”

Clarke also said he believes Day “has Augusta’s best interest at heart, which was another reason I wasn’t reluctant to pull out and go for the school board.”

He said he was not pressured by anyone to drop out of the council race.

He said he and Day could work together, on the council and school board, to make Augusta better.

Day said Clarke contacted her to talk as he considered changing from a council candidate to a school board write-in candidate and asked Day, a former member of the school board, about serving on the school board.

“He was wonderful in reaching out to me,” Day said of Clarke. “His perspective was it’d be great if two people who are both really interested in serving the community were given the opportunity, as opposed to canceling each other out.”

City Clerk Roberta Fogg confirmed Clarke came in Monday to withdraw as a candidate for the at-large council position and, at the same time, also declared himself to be a write-in candidate for the Ward 2 school board seat.

Clarke has two school-age children, son Dawson, 9, and daughter Briella, 5, works as a tour and school bus driver in Auburn, and coaches youth sports and football at Bates College.

Fogg said the November election ballots have not been printed yet and still can be changed to remove Clarke as a candidate for the at-large council seat. As a write-in candidate for the school board, his name won’t be on the ballot.

Clarke, had he not withdrawn, would have faced off against incumbent Day, who was elected in June to serve the remaining few months left on the council term of Jeffrey Bilodeau, who resigned from the council in February.

Clarke’s withdrawal from the at-large council race leaves no contested races on the ballot for the November elections, unless someone else runs as a write-in candidate for the Ward 2 school board seat Clarke is seeking.

To run as a write-in, residents need to fill out a form at City Center by Sept. 25, Fogg said.

The Ward 2 Board of Education seat now is held by Deborah Towle, who will be forced from the seat by the city’s term limits rule, which restricts school board members to three consecutive three-year terms.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

filed under: