Cape Elizabeth elects Randall, Shir, 2 Straws

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Two first-time candidates were elected to the Town Council Tuesday. 

Christopher Straw and Valerie Randall defeated Peter McCarthy and Jim Tasse in the Nov. 7 municipal elections. 

Randall received the most votes with 1,700, followed by Straw’s 1,370 votes. McCarthy and Tasse received 1,161 and 1,044 votes, respectively. 

In uncontested races for two seats on the School Board, Hope Straw – Christopher Straw’s wife – received 2,445 votes and Mohammed Shir received 2,328. They will be serving their first terms on the board. 

Randall and Christopher Straw’s seats on the council are being vacated by Councilors Patricia Grennon and Kathy Ray. 

Raised in Portland, Randall moved to town about six months ago. She is an attorney at Rioux, Donahue, Chmelecki & Peltier.

On Wednesday morning, she said she was feeling great and looked forward to serving. 

“I am just excited to serve my community and take part in shaping the future,” she said.

Randall applauded the council’s progress in the debate over paper streets – which led to a Nov. 6 decision to keep extending the town’s rights to Surfside Avenue/Atlantic Place and Lighthouse Point Road. 

“I was glad to see so many community members turn out to make their voices heard,” Randall said of Monday’s meeting. “Mediation can be a great tool for working through complex issues with high emotions, so I hope that will be helpful here.”

Randall added that she is excited to work alongside her council colleagues. 

“Chris (Straw) and I had a chance to talk (Tuesday) at the polls,” she said. “I think he and I will certainly be able to work well together.” 

Straw is the founder of Downeast Analytics. He moved to Cape Elizabeth in 2008 with his wife and their three kids. 

He is a member of the Fort Williams Park Committee and previously served on the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Fort Williams Park Foundation.

On Wednesday morning, he said he looks forward to helping the council turn the page on the past year and hopes to set an example when it comes to disclosure, transparency, being prepared for meetings, asking substantive questions, and ensuring councilors understand policy trade-offs.

“If that happens, I will always be content with the final outcome of a vote, whichever way it goes,” Straw said.

While he said it is common knowledge that he has friends on both sides of the paper street debate, he believes the town should maintain rights to the streets. 

“Abandoning a paper street without just compensation to the town borders on financial malfeasance,” he said. 

Straw said he is grateful to Tasse and McCarthy for being willing to put themselves forward as candidates and encourages anyone who is thinking about it to run next year. 

“I think the voice of the voters was crystal clear,” he said. “They are looking for a fresh, unbiased perspective on the issues before the town and we are very fortunate that Randall is willing to donate her time to us.”

Straw added that Randall has a sharp mind, critical thinking skills, and valuable hands-on experience as a negotiator.

“In other words, she has the skill set to be a leading voice on the council and I hope to see her in the chair’s seat at some point in the future,” he said.

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

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