Candidates vie for committee seats

Posted Sept. 04, 2009, at 11:09 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Martha Newman’s 27-year tenure on the School Committee will end this year on her own terms.

The deadline for Bangor residents to declare their candidacies for City Council and School Committee came and went at 4:30 p.m. Friday with 10 candidates seeking five seats on the two panels.

Four of the five incumbents seek re-election on the November ballot, with Newman the only holdout.

Newman has hinted that she was unlikely to seek another term. She told the Bangor Daily News in December 2006 that she would end her 17-year run as committee chairwoman and probably wouldn’t try to remain on the board after her term expired. She cited controversy surrounding the 2006 election of Dan Tremble to the school committee as causing “tearing and divisiveness” within the school system and souring her attitude toward her public service.

Tremble was the top vote getter in 2006, but he was forced to resign because his wife worked for the school department.

Newman’s leadership of the committee faced a challenge in 2007 over which she prevailed, but she brushed that aside as irrelevant to the committee’s core message.

“The only evaluation of any school committee that counts are academic outcomes for the students,” said Newman to the newspaper.

Newman, who was first elected to the school board in 1982, could not be reached Friday for comment.

The race for three seats on the City Council attracted seven contenders, including incumbents Patricia A. Blanchette, Peter R. D’Errico and Geoffrey Gratwick. The challengers are Marco Antonio Almodovar, John Francis Kossowan, Paul A. Lodgek and Cary M. Weston.

There are three candidates for two seats on the school committee. Nichi S. Farnham will try to retain her seat against Charles R. Bearce and Elizabeth Grant.

Voters also will decide on two changes to the city charter. The first would reduce the number of signatures a potential candidate for City Council needs to appear on the ballot. The current threshold is 150; that would be changed to 100 under the proposed change.

The second change would alter the process for determining the order of City Council candidates on the ballot. They now are listed alphabetically; the change would require the city clerk to determine the order with a random drawing.

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