Dina Yacoubagha was elected to be Bangor’s newest city councilor in Tuesday’s election, while incumbents Susan Hawes and Gretchen Schaefer won new terms and Ben Sprague and Sara Luciano will join the School Committee.
Three council seats and two School Committee seats were up for grabs in the election. Voters also overwhelmingly supported two uncontroversial city referendums that aim to make the city’s ballots more accessible to the visually impaired.The newcomers and incumbents will take their seats as Bangor continues to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness, population loss and racism in schools.
Hawes came in first with 19.5 percent of votes (3,264 total votes), Yacoubagha in second with 18 percent (3,009) and Schaefer in third with 15.3 percent (2,567 votes). Schaefer narrowly beat Joe Leonard with a margin of 97 votes. Free Martin received 13.6 percent of votes (2,281 votes), James Butler 10 percent (1,670 votes) and Marlene Brochu 8.9 percent (1,485 votes).
On the School Committee, Sprague received by far the most votes with 35.6 percent (3,982 total votes). Luciano came in second with 17.5 percent (1,953 votes), edging out Carrie Smith, who received 16.5 percent, for the seat by 106 votes.
Imke Schessler-Jandreau received 16.1 percent of the vote (1,802 total votes), while Eric Crawley received 14.2 percent (1,586 total votes).
Yacoubagha ran a campaign that emphasized bringing her extensive experience in nonprofits and as a licensed social worker to the council. She has not held elected office before, but she came in fourth place in a three-way City Council race last year. She also chairs Bangor’s Advisory Committee on Racial Equity, Inclusion and Human Rights.
She told the Bangor Daily News earlier this month that she supported increasing access to mental health services, establishing more substance use treatment centers and expanding the Community Connector, among other policies.
Luciano, the data team lead for a health care analytics company, wants to use COVID-19 relief funds to build a broadband hub that would connect families with internet access across Bangor and has emphasized the importance of transparency on the School Committee.
Sprague, a lender at First National Bank, served years on the City Council, including time as chair. He said he would work to continue Bangor’s academic success while ensuring students have the needed support to stay mentally healthy during the pandemic.
Hawes, the director of the medical assisting program at Beal University, emphasized her council experience during her campaign and said she would prioritize creating new affordable housing in the city and ensuring that Bangor has strong leadership under a new city manager.
Schaefer, an instructional technologist at Husson University in Bangor, has served on the council since 2018. She advocated for a more regional approach to the affordable housing and homelessness issue and said she was proud of her work on the new skate park at Hayford Park, which opened last month.
Signs for candidates in both races became a mainstay across the city in the weeks preceding the vote. Some of the most noticeable were from Butler, who deployed a flatbed truck with a large sign with his name.
Butler’s campaign reported nearly $4,900 in expenditures up to Oct. 22, second only to Leonard, who had just over $6,400, according to campaign filings with the city. Luciano led expenditures in a School Committee race that saw less spending at nearly $1,300, while Schessler-Jandreau spent slightly less. Both spent almost all their funds on signage and other printed campaign materials.
Bangor voters approved all three of Maine’s statewide ballot questions, with 53.6 percent of voters (3,716 total) voting with the rest of the state to ban the Central Maine Power corridor, 76.4 percent (5,306) favoring a new infrastructure bond and 57 percent (3,940) favoring an amendment to the state Constitution for Mainers to be able to grow and consume food of their own choosing
While many residents said they were drawn to the polls by Question 1, concerning the CMP corridor, voters said they had followed the council and School Committee elections, though some more closely than others.
A steady stream of voters cast ballots at the Cross Insurance Center throughout the day Tuesday. Justin Duncan, a 32-year-old customer service supervisor, said the municipal offices voters were filling on Tuesday could affect city policy in numerous ways.
“These are the important, nitty gritty details of how the city is run,” he said.