Cullen McGough has been selected on an interim basis to fill the seat vacated by Jon Umland on the Maine School Administrative District 11 board of director. Umland resigned at the beginning of the year after moving out of Gardiner. Photo courtesy of Cullen McGough

GARDINER — Cullen McGough was sworn as an interim member of the Maine School Administrative District 11 board of directors during Wednesday night’s meeting of the Gardiner City Council.

McGough was one of three candidates, along with Meaghan Carlson and Dean Martin.

He fills the seat vacated by Jon Umland, who resigned at the beginning of the year after moving out of Gardiner.

McGough will finish Umland’s term, which ends in November. McGough said he might then run for the seat.

The City Council voted virtually in a secret ballot after hearing the three candidates explain why they sought to serve on the MSAD 11 board of directors.

After McGough was announced as the council’s choice, he was sworn in immediately.

“We can design the future that we want to have, we just have to do the work,” he said after being sworn in. “Where this city was once run by mills, if it’s going to have a bright future, it’s going to be run by people with the knowledge to see that it’s a great place to live and have families and grow. It starts with education. If we don’t have great schools or community engagement, we lose (families).”

McGough is the director of communications for the Chewonki Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Wiscasset that runs educational programs and camps with an environmental focus. Before that, he worked for many years with children at a Maine summer camp.

He lived in Portland for 10 years until he and his wife, Elizabeth, moved to Gardiner three years ago. They have two sons: Benjamin, 4, and Nathaniel, 2. Benjamin attends Laura E. Richards School.

McGough said he saw the opening on the MSAD 11 board as his opportunity to give back to the community.

“I recognize that this is an interim position,” he said. “I see that it’s my place to continue continuity, and it’s not my time or place to put any of my own into it. I would want to run for the seat to make sure the town wants it.”

McGough said being a father prompted him to start thinking more about the city and the region.

He said strong schools will increase the likelihood Mainers will want to stay and work in the area, or go away to school and come back, as McGough did.

He also said he wants to ensure local schools can help students with literacy and technological skills so they can thrive anywhere.

“Part of being a parent, your timeline expands. Before I had kids, I would think: ‘What am I doing next week? Or what am I having for dinner,'” McGough said. “Those were the timelines in my life, and now, with kids, it’s, ‘Where can I send them to school?’ or, ‘Do they live in a place where they want to have their families?'”

McGough’s first board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 4.

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