Freeport Town Council turnover continues with Arno resignation

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FREEPORT — Freshmen town councilors will outnumber veterans after Councilor Kate Arno announced her resignation last week.

Arno will attend her final meeting Tuesday. She is taking a job at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in Washington, D.C.

“This was an unexpected job opportunity; I didn’t see it on the horizon at all,” Arno said. “I had every intention of fulfilling the three-year term I was elected for, but this is an excellent opportunity, one that I may not get again. I weighed that into my thinking and thought I’ve got to say yes. If I’m going to do it, it’s got to be this year.”

A special election will be held March 20 to fill Arno’s seat. Nomination papers will be available in the town clerk’s office Jan. 23 and must be returned by Feb. 13.

Arno, who previously worked at Maine Public Broadcasting Network, will be the director of the television community service grants, the largest pool of competitive grants that CPB offers for public television stations, she said. Most recently, she worked as a senior policy associate at the University of Southern Maine Muskie School of Public Service.

“I’ve been very honored to represent people from District 2,” Arno said. “I just learned so much and met so many great people. It’s been great to be active in a lot of important decision-making in this last year.”

Arno said she is happy with work the council has accomplished during her term, including more public inclusion in town business, improvement of the town’s website and the hiring of a new town manager.

Arno said her family plans rent out their house and hopes to eventually return to Maine.

“I hope that we’re going to have a wonderful adventure to Washington for a few years,” she said. “Freeport, Maine, is my home and this is where I hope to return.”

Arno is the fourth councilor to leave in recent months.

In the election last November, former council Chairman Jim Cassida lost his bid for re-election to first-time Councilor Andrew Wellen. Also, Councilor Charlotte Bishop decided not to seek re-election, and former Vice Chairwoman Sara Gideon resigned after moving out of District 1 shortly before the November election.

Council Chairman Jim Hendricks said the changing composition of the council has made it difficult to get into a rhythm as a governing body, and that Arno’s resignation will prolong the learning curve.

“Its been tough, we haven’t had a chance to become a cohesive group yet,” Hendricks said, noting that the council has only had one meeting with all seven members since Gideon resigned in October.

“Everything is new to me as chair. There’s been no real opportunity for us to form a team or friendship. There’s just no cohesiveness yetWe’re all getting to know each other and work together,” he said. “…But, you can’t blame Kate for taking a great position in Washington.”

Arno’s successor will join Wellen, and Councilors Scott Gleeson and Melanie Sachs in the “freshmen majority.”

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow Will on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.

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