Peaks Island council considers options; No takers so far for November elections

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PEAKS ISLAND — The island advisory council created by the city two years ago in response to a secession bid is having trouble attracting candidates for the November elections.

The terms of two members of the seven-member council, Betsy Stout and Tom Bohan, conclude in November. Additionally, members Bob Hurley and Mike Langella have announced they will resign from the council this year, one year early.

With an Aug. 24 deadline for turning in nomination papers looming, as of Tuesday morning no one had requested the papers from the City Clerk’s Office.

Peaks Island Council Chairman Michael Richards said Monday he expected some people would take out papers this week and turn in the 75 signatures needed to run before the Monday deadline.

“I think we will have some candidates,” he said.

Richards said the council is encouraging islanders to run and is considering reducing the number of meetings it holds each month as a way to make the position more attractive. 

He said he does not think the lack of candidates reflects apathy among islanders, but rather frustration that the island council is often reduced to “beggars.”

“We have great needs on Peaks Island that are not met by the city,” he said. The island council has no power to make rules or regulations for the island, but instead acts in an advisory capacity to the City Council concerning the island.

He said the island would benefit if the city allowed the island council a larger budget than the $5,000 annual operating money and $30,000 it shares with other Portland islands to subsidize transportation costs.

“I think people may see that this experiment is not working,” said Richards. “Why spend time going to meetings when all you can do is ask the city for things?”

Despite the frustration, Richards said the council is considering restructuring the way it functions, and has also spoken with City Councilor Kevin Donoghue, who represents the island, about shrinking the council from seven members to five.

“We haven’t made a decision on any of that,” he said. “We’re waiting to see what happens.”

City Spokeswoman Nicole Clegg said the Peaks Island Council would need to go before the City Council and request the membership reduction.

In 2006, 58 percent of Peaks Island voters approved exploring secession. The City Council unanimously voted against the measure. Following six months of negotations between the city and secession leaders and with a state-appointed mediator, no resolution was reached. The Peaks Island group filed a bill to secede with the state legislature, but it failed.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or