Two people without prior political experience were elected to the Ellsworth City Council on Tuesday.

Casey Hanson, a family physician, and Steve O’Halloran, a local transportation business owner, won a 4-way race for two available seats on the council. Hanson, 44, received 1504 votes and O’Halloran, 57, received 1374 votes.

Two other candidates who each had run previously for City Council fell short in their second attempts. John Linnehan, who had run in 2016, received 1086 votes while Mathias Kamin, who ran in 2019, received 961 votes. Linnehan, 73, is a prominent local businessman who has been active in conservative politics and in local Christian ministries, while Kamin, 34, works in the beverage production and building trades.

Candidates running for Ellsworth City Council in 2021 are (shown alphabetically left to right) Casey Hanson, Edward Mathias Kamin, John Linnehan and Steven O’Halloran. Credit: Courtesy of the candidates

With Hanson’s election, the number of registered voters Democrats on the council is doubling from one to two. Chairman Dale Hamilton is a Democrat, but 4 other sitting councilors are Republicans, as is O’Halloran.

Heather Grindle, who decided not to seek re-election this year, is unaffiliated with any political party while outgoing councilor John Phillips, who also decided not to run again, is a registered Republican.

Candidates for Ellsworth City Council typically avoid promoting their party affiliations during the race because the council, as established by the city’s charter, is a non-partisan body. Party affiliation plays no role in how the council functions, unlike with Congress or the Maine Legislature, where members of a political party caucus together to strategize, or can be appointed legislative committee chairs if their party holds a majority.

Still, some voters went with their party affiliations in deciding who to vote for. Peter Lione, 69, and Lindsey Fenderson, 41, are Democrats who voted for Hanson and Kamin, the two Democrats in the City Council race. Angelina Justice, a Republican, voted for Linnehan and O’Halloran, the two Republicans in the race.

“I want a more progressive City Council,” Lione said.

Justice said she voted for Linnehan and O’Halloran because they were “no nonsense” candidates who would help keep the role of city government in check. Social issues such as whether to paint downtown crosswalks with rainbow colors are better left to the community, not to the city, she said.

“Let’s focus on the city’s business,” she said.

In the city’s school board races, incumbent Abigail Miller was re-elected to a 3-year term on the board with 919 votes. Challengers Casey Hardwick and Josuha Dudeck fell short with 886 votes and 534 votes respectively.

In an election for a one-year term on the school board, Tara Young was elected with 1733 votes. Daisy Wight, who mounted a write-in campaign for the seat in recent weeks, received 454 votes. Young will fill a seat being vacated by Muneer Hasham, who was appointed to the board this summer after former board member Jen Alexander resigned with a year remaining in her term.

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....