LEWISTON — With only one day until nomination papers are due back at City Hall, there is still a noticeable lack of candidates for School Committee, while many City Council races feature only a single candidate.
The deadline for submitting signatures to run for the local election in November is Friday, Sept. 8, by 4:30 p.m.
As of Wednesday afternoon, candidates had yet to turn in papers for School Committee seats in Wards 3, 4 and 6. In the run-up to the election, a number of notable committee members, including longtime member and chairwoman Linda Scott, said they would not seek re-election.
City officials posted a notice online and on social media Wednesday, drawing attention to the Friday deadline and the lack of School Committee candidates.
Many were hoping there would be a flurry of activity Thursday and Friday.
City Clerk Kathy Montejo is expecting a late rush but said she’s been surprised. She said Wednesday that she doesn’t recall a time in the past when with only two days left to file, 50 percent of School Committee seats were without candidates.
“It’s pretty unusual,” she said.
While some seats remained without a single candidate Wednesday, some current committee members have taken out papers.
Ward 5 School Committee member Luke Jensen said Wednesday that he planned to return papers before the deadline. On Wednesday morning, Hassan Abdi was also verified as a candidate for the Ward 5 seat. Francis Gagnon, the Ward 3 committee member, had taken out papers but had not returned them.
Three people have retrieved papers for Ward 4 but have not returned them. No one has taken out papers for Ward 6.
At-Large candidate and incumbent Megan Parks had just returned papers Tuesday. She said that when she ran in 2015, “all wards had qualified candidates well before the cut-off date.”
She wrote in an email, “I do see that several people have taken out papers for many of these wards within the last week or so, so I’d imagine they are wrapping up getting their signatures to qualify.
“We have several good candidates returning, and a lot of newcomers, which is exciting,” Parks added. “I suspect the elected face of Lewiston is going to change drastically this year, and I’m looking forward to it!”
For City Council, big changes may also be in store, and unless more candidates return papers, most wards will have a single candidate. As of Wednesday, only Ward 6 had more than one qualified candidate, though Montejo said Donna Gillespie (who had originally announced a run for mayor) returned papers just before the clerk’s office closed Wednesday.
In the mayor’s race, the opposite is true, with five candidates vying to replace outgoing Mayor Robert Macdonald.
To qualify as a candidate, a person must be a registered voter of that ward, be at least 20 years old and submit nomination papers with a minimum of 50 signatures from registered voters in that ward.
The city charter lays out a specific process for a write-in candidate to be elected, as well as a process if no one is elected.
If no write-in candidate qualifies during the election, the charter stipulates that the City Council may appoint any vacant council seat within 30 days of the election, while the mayor nominates any vacant School Committee seats, subject to City Council approval.
Questions about the candidate qualification process can be submitted to the Lewiston city clerk at 513-3124.
Here is an updated list of qualified candidates for Lewiston’s municipal election in November, as of Wednesday afternoon:
Mayor: Shane Bouchard, Mark Cayer, Ben Chin, Ron Potvin and Charles Soule
Council Ward 1: James Lysen
Council Ward 2: Zach Pettengill
Council Ward 3: Alicia Rea
Council Ward 4: Michel A. Lajoie
Council Ward 5: Kristen Cloutier
Council Ward 6: Joline Beam and Pauline Gudas
Council Ward 7: Thomas Shannon
School Committee At-Large: Megan Parks and Safiya Khalid
School Committee Ward 1: Renee Courtemanche and Ahmed Sheikh
School Committee Ward 2: Monique Roy
School Committee Ward 3: None
School Committee Ward 4: None
School Committee Ward 5: Hassan Abdi
School Committee Ward 6: None
School Committee Ward 7: Tina Hutchinson