WATERVILLE — Colby College associate professor and Ward 6 City Councilor Winifred Tate has stepped down from her position, leaving a vacancy on Waterville’s seven-person governing board.

Tate submitted her resignation at 2:44 p.m. Tuesday via an email to the city council, Mayor Nick Isgro and City Manager Mike Roy. The council unanimously voted to declare a vacancy in Ward 6 at its regular meeting Tuesday night.

Waterville City Councilor Winifred Tate announced her resignation from the Ward 6 council seat on Tuesday. Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

“For a variety of reasons, I cannot devote the time the Council requires moving forward,” she wrote in the email to officials announcing her decision. Tate told the Morning Sentinel that she needed to “step away from politics for the short-term because of family obligations at the moment.” While she is not moving out of town, she said she will be traveling a lot in the near future.

Tate was first appointed to the city council in Jan. 2017, after Democrat Dana Bushee resigned. At the time, she defeated candidates that included Lauren LePage — the daughter of former Waterville mayor and Gov. Paul LePage — and military veteran George Weber.

Late Tuesday night, the Waterville Democratic Committee endorsed its former chair, Claude Francke, for the Ward 6 seat via Facebook. Tate said she supported Francke’s candidacy and did not strategically submit her resignation after the caucusing period ended.

It was “just the way it panned out,” she said.

Other individuals interested in the role must gather the signatures of 25 registered Ward 6 voters on a petition by Sept. 6 in order for their name to appear on the ballot, unaffiliated with any party.

“If no one puts forward a petition or submits it by the deadline of Sept. 6, then the council can appoint someone, which would last until November 2020,” Roy said, which is when Tate’s term was due to end. He added that the council could also choose to appoint someone before September, but that if another candidate qualifies with enough signatures, that appointment would only last until November 2019. Councilors said Tuesday they wanted to see if anyone nominates themselves through the petition process before they take any action.

Winifred Tate, right, hangs out the window of her minivan with an a flag of equality on June 1 during a counterprotest to a protest of the Drag Queen Story Hour in front of the Children’s Book Cellar in Waterville. Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

There are currently three seats on the Waterville council due for a public vote in November: the Ward 2 seat held by Republican Phil Bofia, the Ward 3 seat held by Democrat Margaret Smith and the Ward 5 seat held by Democrat Jay Coelho.

At recent party caucuses, Republicans renominated Phil Bofia for Ward 2 and picked Rick Foss for Ward 5, but did not identify a candidate for Ward 3. Democrats nominated Flavia Debrito Oliveira for Ward 2 and incumbents Smith and Coelho for Wards 3 and 5, respectively.

Tate, who has two children in the Waterville public school system and is a tenured member of Colby’s anthropology department, said she was grateful for the two and a half years she served on the city council.

“I have learned a great deal during my time on the Council and appreciate the opportunity to work for our community,” she wrote to officials.

Tate is the fourth Waterville councilor in the last 16 months to resign before finishing her term. Former Ward 5 Councilor Nick Champagne, a Republican, stepped down in April 2018 to accept a job as city engineer; Democrat Lauren Lessing vacated the Ward 3 seat in July 2018 to move to Iowa; and Nathaniel White, a Democrat from Ward 2, stepped down in December 2018 after relocating to Fairfield.

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