No special election to fill Portland School Board vacancy

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PORTLAND — An at-large School Board member last week announced her intent to resign, but there will be no special election to replace her, and so far, the losing candidates from the last election aren’t interested in running.

Elizabeth Brooks, who has served on the board since 2008, will resign effective June 30. She plans to move to Scotland to marry her fiance, who lives there.

Brooks’ term expires at the end of 2014. School Board Chairwoman Sarah Thompson said in a news release that there will not be a special election and no one will be appointed to fill the open seat. Instead, voters will choose a replacement during the general election in November.

“There is no reason to ask the taxpayers to spend $18,000 to $20,000 on a special election to fill a vacancy of just a few months,” Thompson said. “I believe that this board can function fine with eight members over the summer and fall.”

The November election now holds the potential for three contested races. In addition to Brooks’ departure, two board members will reach the end of their terms by the end of the year: Justin Costa in District 4 and Marnie Morrione in District 5.

At least three candidates from the last election are not in any hurry to jump into a new campaign season. In November, six candidates fought for two at large seats that were decisively won by Anna Trevorrow and Pious Ali with 5,965 and 5,073 votes, respectively.

Deb Brewer, who was third in votes with 3,011, couldn’t be reached for comment Friday. The other candidates – Ralph Carmona, 2,960; Gene Landry, 2,541; and Fred Miller, 1,406 – each said they were undecided, but favored sitting out this election.

“The voters have spoken,” Carmona said of the November 2013 election. “Unless I hear a thundering herd of support from the community, I’m probably not going to run.”

Landry said he hadn’t given much thought to running again, but he wouldn’t rule it out. Miller said recent health issues would prevent him from mounting a full-blown campaign.

Brooks, 46, was born in the United Kingdom to an American father, and moved to the United States 28 years ago. She has lived in Portland for the past 18 years. A mother of three adult children, Brooks first became involved in the district in 2000, when plans to close Baxter Elementary School first arose.

Brooks also served as president of the Presumpscot Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization. As a School Board member since 2008, Brooks has served on the Operations Committee.

Thompson said Brooks will be missed.

“Elizabeth is a valued member of the board who has made many important contributions to the improvement of Portland schools over the years,” she said. “We will miss her and wish her all the best.”

Nomination papers for Brooks’ at-large seat will be available in July.

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.

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