School proponents Caiazzo, Rowan win Scarborough council seats

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SCARBOROUGH — Chris Caiazzo and Robert “Will” Rowan, both of whom led pro-school campaigns and claimed the town budget process must be improved, were elected Tuesday to the Town Council.

Caiazzo, of Elmwood Avenue, tallied 2,398 votes – the most of all five candidates – and Rowan, of Bonneygrove Drive, came in a close second with 2,149 votes.

Caiazzo and Rowan defeated Michael Turek, of Bayberry Lane, who received 1,363 votes; Liam Somers, of Holmes Road, with 1,254 votes, and James E. Benedict, of Burnham Road, with 507 votes.

Caiazzo and Rowan will replace council Chairwoman Jessica Holbrook and Councilor Ed Blaise, neither of whom sought re-election.

Resident Peter Schild, after casting his ballot in the gym at Scarborough High School on Tuesday afternoon, said he voted for Caiazzo and Rowan because he thinks they are the most capable at solving the town’s budget issues.

“I’ve been living in Scarborough for a lot of years, and I’m tired of the (relationship) between the Town Council and the School Board,” Schild said. “I think they represent my views the best.”

Erin Squibb, a Scarborough native, also voted for Caiazzo and Rowan, because “they’re both highly educated and seem to support full disclosure,” she said. “They’re both especially vocal about the school issues (which is) very much needed.”

The relationship has to be more symbiotic, Squibb said. “I think they’re not making the best use of our money, and those two understand.”

Wednesday morning by phone, Caiazzo said the whole process has been “a really humbling experience.”

“Honestly, it still hasn’t quite sunk in,” he said. “I did not think the results would be that way. I know we had a good campaign, but I really thought it was going to be Liam and Will.”

Caiazzo said he is “excited” to address the “big-ticket items,” like the budget, adding there’s still “a lot that can be done before the (budget) season rolls around on the communication side of things.”

Caiazzo, who will finish a three-year term on the School Board in December, said he knows his transition from the board to the council will include a “steep learning curve.”

He decided to run for council because it would allow him a more influential position in the budget process, Caiazzo said in late October.

During his three years on the School Board, “I think we made great strides in transparency and collaboration. Can we do better? Absolutely. It’s like forming a good team: you have to go through the storming part of it first before you can go through the norming part,” Caiazzo also said before the election was held.

“It feels incredible,” Caiazzo said on Wednesday, to have people he doesn’t know tell him they like his position on issues.

Rowan, a newcomer to town politics, ran on a similar platform, as a concerned resident with a desire to improve the budget process and relationship between elected officials and the citizenry.

“I am tremendously grateful for everyone who came out to vote yesterday,” Rowan said Wednesday morning. “I look forward to working with the other councilors, the municipal staff and all town residents to affect positive change in Scarborough. I am appreciative of the positive tone of all the campaigns and hope that we can keep future discourse positive and focused on the issues.”

Rowan, who last month said he was seeking a council seat because of dissatisfaction with the “dysfunctional school budget process,” on Wednesday added he feels “like we’ve been shortsighted when we’ve cut from, and then voted down, the level services budget. We need to be making steady investments in our future, rather than focusing on diminutive tax increases.”

School Board, Sanitary District

In uncontested Board of Education elections, incumbents Donna Beeley and Jacquelyn Perry, along with newcomer Kathryn Miles, were elected to three-year terms.

Nicola F. Rico and Benedetto Viola also won uncontested bids for trustees of the Scarborough Sanitary District.

Scarborough has 15,060 registered voters. For Tuesday’s election, voter turnout was 27 percent, with 4,271 ballots cast, Town Clerk Tody Justice reported Wednesday morning.  

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA

Robert Rowan reaches out to embrace his daughters Emerson, 5, and Carrigain, 8,  at Scarborough High School during Tuesday’s election. Rowan was elected to the Town Council.

Scarborough resident Maura Reminga casts her ballot while holding 16-month-old daughter Leah during Tuesday’s election at Scarborough High School.

South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.