Blake, Beecher win South Portland council seats

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Experience seemed to matter more than their positions on the Waterfront Protection Ordinance in the City Council elections won Tuesday by Mayor Tom Blake and former Councilor Maxine Beecher.

Blake won a third term in his at-large seat, garnering 3,900 votes. Beecher, who will return to the council after a one-year hiatus, won the second at-large seat with 3,761 votes. She replaces Councilor Al Livingston, who decided against running again. Both seats carry three-year terms.

School Board member Rick Matthews finished third with 3,340 votes and former Planning Board member Carol Thorne trailed with 2,277 votes. 

In the Board of Education elections, School Board Chairman Rick Carter defeated challenger Gene Swiger for a new three-year term, 4,097 to 2,558. Incumbent School Board members Sara Goldberg and Mary House were unopposed in their re-election bids for District 2 and at-large seats.

“The city still needs leaders to look at the big picture,” Blake said Tuesday as he stood in the campaign headquarters of Protect South Portland, which supported the Waterfront Protection Ordinance that was narrowly defeated, 4,453 to 4,261.

Beecher, who was unable to seek re-election last year in District 4 because of city term limits laws, opposed the ordinance and said supporter’s arguments that it was compatible with the new Comprehensive Plan she helped develop took a very selective view of the plan.

Although she will not be sworn in until Dec. 2, Beecher said she expects to play a role in crafting some type of solution to prevent tar sands oil from being shipped to the city, without impeding existing waterfront businesses.

“I don’t know anyone who would like to see tar sands come in,” she said.

Blake said the debate about the ordinance bothered him mostly because it made the city seem like “a one-issue community.”

He and Beecher both supported the $14 million bond to build a municipal services center for the Public Works, Transportation and Parks and Recreation departments off Highland Avenue. The bond passed, 4,858 to 3,536.

While running for council because Livingston decided to bow out, Beecher also headed the citizen’s committee supporting the 20-year bond, which will cost an estimated $20 million in principal and interest.

“I almost ran two campaigns at one time,” she said.

Blake and Beecher had strong support throughout the city, with Blake carrying District 1, District 2 and the absentee votes, while Beecher carried District 3 and District 4. Thorne won District 5. Although he won no districts, Matthews placed second in three of them.

Carter won his fourth three-year term on the School Board, representing District 1 in the city’s east side. Board of Education members do not have term limits on their service, and Carter said he wanted to be in office when the expanded and renovated South Portland High School is completed in 2015.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.