Cape Elizabeth candidates unusually absent as filing deadline nears

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CAPE ELIZABETH — With just over a week left until the town’s Sept. 8 filing deadline, only one candidate has submitted nomination papers for one of four offices in the Nov. 7 municipal election. 

Two seats on the School Board and two seats on the Town Council are on the ballot.

On Aug. 1, Councilor Katherine Ray said she would not make a decision about seeking re-election until the last minute. Ray could not be reached for comment this week. 

Councilor Patricia Grennon is not running for a second term. Grennon is chairwoman of the Ordinance Committee and also serves on the Thomas Jordan Trust Grant Committee. 

“While it has been my pleasure and honor to serve my community for the past three years, I will not be seeking re-election,” Grennon said. “Unfortunately I have many personal and family commitments in the coming year and thought now would be a good time for others to step up and serve.”

As of Aug. 30, only two residents had shown interest in becoming council candidates.

Christopher Straw, of Shore Road, returned papers Aug. 15 to run for the council.

Straw was born in Dover, New Hampshire, and moved to Cape Elizabeth in 2008. He is the founder of Downeast Analytics LLC, a consulting start-up based in Cape Elizabeth, and a member of the Fort Williams Park Committee.  

Valerie Randall, of Woodland Road, picked up nomination papers Aug. 25 for a seat on the council, but as of Aug. 30 had not returned them to the town clerk’s office. 

Also as of Aug. 30, no one had picked up nomination papers for the two seats available on the School Board. 

Joanna Morrissey and Barbara Powers, whose terms on the School Board end on Dec. 11, both said they will not seek re-election.  

Having served two terms on the board, Morrissey said she plans to focus on career goals, including pursuing a master’s degree in public health from the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine.

Powers served one term on the school board. She is a part-time superintendent and principal at Long Island School in Casco Bay and said she would like to focus all of her energy on that position. 

According to Town Clerk Debra Lane, who has worked for the town since 1986, this is the first time she remembers a ballot being so empty so close to the nomination deadline.

“Time is getting short,” Lane said. “But the process for appearing on the ballot isn’t too overwhelming. … Someone could conceivably get enough signatures (by deadline), should they decide to run last minute.” 

Candidates for the council and School Board are required to turn nomination papers into the town clerk’s office with 25-1oo registered voter signatures no later than 4 p.m. Sept. 8. 

Lane said she hopes that if there are not four names on the November ballot, someone will run as a write-in candidate. In case no one does, the town will declare vacancies and a special election would be held.

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.