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Maine Red Claws founder to join Cumberland Town Council

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Maine Red Claws founder to join Cumberland Town Council

CUMBERLAND — An entepreneur who helped bring the Maine Red Claws professional basketball team to Portland will be the newest town councilor.

Jon Jennings of Lantern Lane, who moved to Cumberland with his wife and daughter from Marblehead, Mass., in 2009, is expected to be appointed by the council at its Monday, Jan. 28, meeting.

He replaces longtime Councilor Steve Moriarty, who resigned this month after being elected to the state House of Representatives in District 108.

Jennings was selected from a pool of 10 applicants, according to Council Vice Chairman Bill Stiles.

"I was incredibly honored that they would select me to fill the term," Jennings said Friday.

Jennings, 50, is a native of Indiana who from 1986-1990 served as a scout and video coordinator for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association, a role he had previously served with the NBA's Indiana Pacers. He was later an assistant coach and scouting coordinator with the Celtics, and then the team's director of basketball development.

In 1997 he was selected to serve in the Office of Cabinet Affairs as a White House Fellow. He was eventually hired to the permanent staff and served in various capacities before becoming acting assistant attorney general for legislative affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice in 1999.

Jennings ran unsuccessfully to represent Indiana's 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004. From 2005-2007 he was state director of the Massachusetts office of U.S. Sen. John Kerry.

He turned his attention back to basketball in 2009, when he became president, general manager and part owner of the Maine Red Claws in the NBA Development League.

Jennings left the Red Claws last July to focus more of his attention on development of The Forefront at Thompson's Point project in Portland, where he is a general partner. The $105 million mixed-use complex will contain an event center, sports medicine facility, hotel, parking garage, office space and a restaurant. He said he hopes construction will begin later this year.

Jennings – who is also a youth basketball coach and partner in Red Mango, a frozen yogurt business at the Maine Mall in South Portland – said he has had a passion for public service all his life. That, coupled with the extra time he had after leaving the Red Claws, triggered his interest in serving out the rest of Moriarty's term.

Jennings plans to seek election to the council when his term expires in June.

"Cumberland, and Maine in general, have been so good to ... our family," he said. "I really wanted to ... make a difference."

He said he and his wife moved to the town in part because "we kept meeting these wonderful people who happened to live in Cumberland."

Expressing his excitement at the opportunity to serve on the Town Council, Jennings said, "it truly is an honor, and I can't wait to get started."

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.