LEWISTON — The City Council on Tuesday postponed appointing a Ward 4 School Committee member until after the election, leaving some councilors concerned about a lack of representation for residents.

After the recent resignation of Ward 4 committee member Tanya Whitlow, Mayor Carl Sheline proposed the appointment of Kristen Cloutier, a state legislator and former councilor and School Committee member, to finish the last three months of the term.

However, a majority of the council supported tabling the appointment until after the Nov. 7 election when the council could appoint the winner prior to the January inauguration.

Craig Charpentier and Kevin Boilard are running for the two-year term.

In response, several officials called the maneuver nothing more than election-year politics that would leave Ward 4 without representation for at least two months.

Councilor Linda Scott, who serves as the council’s representative on the School Committee, said Cloutier was a good fit to fill the seat for a few months because there’s a “tremendous learning curve for new folks” coming onto the committee and Cloutier has previous experience. She also said the committee has important issues in front of it and a voice for Ward 4 residents is important.


“She has the experience and ability to hit the ground running,” Sheline said.

“Ward 4 needs representation now from someone who can do the job now,” he said Wednesday.

Councilors Lee Clement, who made the motion to table, Bob McCarthy, Rick LaChapelle and Larry Pease supported putting off the appointment.

LaChapelle said the decision “in no way has to do with Rep. Cloutier. Her credentials are impeccable, and her dedication to the city is without question.” But, he argued, being down a committee member for a few meetings “is not going to impact the committee.”

McCarthy argued that Ward 4 has representation from the committee’s at-large member as well as the council’s representative. He also said appointing the person who wins in November would give them a few extra meetings prior to the new term to “ease the transition.”

Councilor Scott Harriman said the decision would leave Ward 4 residents without a voice on the committee for weeks.


“In order to not disenfranchise everyone who lives in Ward 4, we should go forward” with the appointment, he said.

“I don’t understand why filling this now with someone who has the knowledge and commitment to this community would be a detriment in any way,” Scott said.

Megan Parks, the at-large chairman of the committee, also said Ward 4 “deserves representation between now and then.”

The discussion Tuesday showcased a continued rift between councilors that has played out since the term began, but has recently deepened with the November election looming.

Councilor Stephanie Gelinas said the School Committee’s work is important, and that even if Cloutier only serves for a small number of meetings, tabling the appointment “doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

“It just feels very political, and disingenuous,” she said.


Gelinas and Scott are not seeking reelection.

Harriman accused the majority of coordinating on the issue beforehand.

Clement responded that he and other councilors can talk anytime they’d like as long as there is not a quorum of the council.

When the issue was brought up again later in the meeting, McCarthy responded, “Have you not heard of a telephone?”

When the roll call vote was conducted to delay the appointment, Harriman also said LaChapelle “coached” Pease on how to vote. On the video, LaChapelle can be heard saying “yes.”

“Is coaching another councilor how to vote part of our rules?” Harriman asked city administration.

According to the City Charter, the mayor shall nominate a resident of the ward to serve to fill the remainder of the term. The appointment is subject to the confirmation of the City Council.

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