Elgin Physic Sun Journal file photo

LEWISTON — The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve Mayor Mark Cayer’s nomination of Elgin Physic to the vacant Ward 2 School Committee seat.

Physic, a Maine State Police trooper and youth coach, will replace former School Committee Chairwoman Monique Roy, who resigned July 12.

His appointment comes at a tumultuous time for the Lewiston School Department, which has seen its superintendent and School Committee chairwoman resign over the last month while the district grapples with the start of a new school year amidst a pandemic.

Officials said Physic’s long history of public service, including work with local youth sports and mentoring will add value to the School Committee.

The Iraq War veteran has lived in Lewiston since 2004, and has seen four children attend Lewiston schools, with two currently in the system. He’s been coaching local youth sports for roughly a decade and is a former board member of Tree Street Youth.

“I stepped up because I think there’s a need for someone like myself on the board,” he told the City Council on Tuesday.

Cayer, who nominated Physic following a five-day application process, said Physic will be a “voice of reason” and add an “apolitical” presence on the School Committee during an important time.

“He has a long history of service to children in the area, and has children in the school system,” Cayer said.

Physic was also recently selected by Cayer to serve on his ad hoc committee for Equity and Diversity.

Several councilors said they had heard from constituents regarding Physic’s appointment.

“You have a strong reputation in town, which gives me confidence,” said Councilor Luke Jensen.

Jensen, a former School Committee member, told Physic that serving on the school board “is not easy work. You have to make the right decision for kids at every single point.”

Councilor Lee Clement said he expects Physic to “bring a proper perspective to the School Committee,” as someone who has worked in law enforcement and alongside local youth.

The committee recently tabled a discussion on a proposal to pare down its School Resource Officer program after it received unprecedented public attention, causing meeting security concerns.

In his application to the seat, Physic said that he’s made “a personal commitment to the children of our community.”

“There are many things Lewiston does well, but there are also many areas that could use improvement,” he said.

He said he began as a coach and mentor, but then took on leadership roles in Lewiston youth sports, working “with multiple stakeholders to offer high-quality inclusive programming with affordable pricing for all our youth.”

Physic received an award this year from the Maine State Police in recognition of his community service, and in 2017, he received a Maine State Grange community citizen award and an officer of the year award.

While the council unanimously supported the nomination, some raised questions over the nomination process.

According to City Charter, the mayor has authority to appoint a School Committee seat should it become vacant.

Cayer said he opened the application process last week, but chose a short, five-day period due to “a lot of pressing issues in front of the School Committee right now.”

“I felt like a week was enough to get enough applicants,” he said. “My goal was to place someone on the board that works well with others, someone who’s apolitical and wouldn’t bring politics to the table.”

Jensen suggested that a timeframe for handling nominations be written into the council’s procedural rules to make the process more consistent. The council will likely hold a workshop on the issue in the near future.

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