GARDINER — For the second time in two years, local officials have chosen Cullum McGough to fill a vacancy on the Gardiner-area school district board.

At the same time, they opted to continue seeking letters of interest from candidates interested in filling the District 4 vacancy on the City Council.

Cullen McGough Contributed photo

McGough, who attended Wednesday’s meeting, was one of two people who had expressed interest in the seat. The other candidate was not at the meeting when the item was taken up.

McGough said he is familiar with the people of the school district and the board’s work. He said he enjoyed his time on the school board, although it came in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I will just say both to the folks in the town and the council that I am acutely aware that each dollar that the district spends costs the town something,” he said. “And I am also acutely aware that every time we fail to graduate a student, it costs the town something.”

At a time when Maine communities are struggling to attract businesses and new residents, and seeing young people moving away, McGough said one of the benefits Gardiner has is a strong school system.


McGough said his philosophy is that a partnership with strong communication and no surprises makes a city and a school board work well together.

McGough was one of three candidates to indicate interest in the seat in 2021, after board member John Umland resigned because he was moving out of Gardiner. When first appointed, McGough said he ran for the seat when it came up for election in November 2021, but personal business arose that prevented him from campaigning.

On Wednesday, he said he would run again when the seat is up.

Mayor Patricia Hart said he should check with the school board about when that would be. Initially, it was thought the seat could be filled for the balance of the term, as has been done in the past, but it appears that under state law, the seat can be temporarily filled until the next election. In this case, that is the statewide primary election June 13.

Two District 4 residents initially submitted letters of interest, but one was withdrawn. The remaining candidate was not able to attend Wednesday’s meeting to talk about his interest.

“Process-wise, you have two options,” City Manager Andrew Carlton said. “We’re entering into budget season, and it would be nice to have a full council for budget season.”

The other option, Carlton said, would be to postpone the matter until the resident, who was not identified, can come in to speak to the City Council. And because of the delay, councilors could continue to accept letters of interest from other residents of District 4, which generally encompasses the south end of Gardiner.

Councilors chose the second option. The city will continue to accept letters of interest until 4 p.m. on Friday, April 14, and the matter is to be taken up again at the meeting Wednesday, April 19.

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