Not dead yet: 3 write-ins win seats on Peaks Island Council

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PORTLAND — The adage that every vote counts has never rung more true than in this last election cycle on Peaks Island.

The existence of the Peaks Island Council was apparently doomed when four sitting councilors abruptly resigned last summer and there were no declared candidates for three open seats on the Nov. 2 ballot.

But three councilors were nonetheless elected earlier this month and have all agreed to serve.

City Clerk Linda Cohen said Brackett Avenue resident Eric Eaton received four votes, Sargent Road resident Lawrence Foster and Braebrook Road resident Sid Gerard each received three votes.

Since there were no declared write-in candidates, Cohen said that voters needed to write their candidate’s full name and address as well as fill in the oval.

There were about 130 write-in votes from Peaks Island, Cohen said.

Now that three more councilors have been elected, they are under pressure to be sworn in and hold a meeting before Dec. 1, when the resignation of the last sitting councilor, Marjorie Phyfe, takes effect.

Cohen said the group hopes to appoint at least one new member to the council before Phyfe finishes.

“That’s the only way they’re going to be able to do it,” she said. “If they don’t have that fourth person, they won’t have a quorum.”

When reached on Monday, Eaton, a 41-year-old graphic designer, said he was surprised to get four votes on Election Day.

“I put the message out there, but only to a very small group of people,” Eaton said. “I was actually surprised I got four (votes), rather than three.”

Eaton said the group will likely be sworn in and meet the last week of the month.

The group has been contacting potential candidates, Eaton said, but have yet to get a commitment from anyone.

“It’s up in the air right now,” Eaton said. “But we still have a couple weeks.”

The PIC is a seven-member elected board charged with being the “voice” of islanders, working closely with Portland city officials and city councilors to address the needs of island residents.

However four members resigned last summer, saying it has not worked out that way, and they are frustrated by the lack of progress made on issues brought to the city’s attention.

If the group maintains a quorum, Eaton said the council will then look for three additional members.

Eaton said he decided to offer his name as a write-in candidate as a way to keep the council alive and “nurse it along for a while,” in case political conditions change and islanders decide they want to run again.

“I really didn’t want it to see it die,” he said.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or