South Portland City Council chooses Blake as mayor

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The formal vote is not until Dec. 3, but city councilors have selected Councilor At-Large Tom Blake to serve as the city’s next mayor.

It will be the second term as mayor for Blake, who drew unanimous support during a brief caucus at the conclusion of Monday’s City Council meeting. By charter, the mayor is selected by councilors and serves a one-year term while setting council agendas.

As incoming Councilors Linda Cohen and Melissa Linscott prepare to take office, Blake becomes the longest-tenured sitting councilor. His experience and guidance as mayor in 2009 were the basis of the nomination made by Councilor Tom Coward.

“He was a wonderful mayor then,” Coward said. “He will be able to move things along expeditiously with the best interest of the city at heart.”

Coward, who won a seat as a Cumberland County Commissioner, said he expects to resign his District 1 seat by the end of December or in early January 2013.

The appointment of Elderberry Drive resident Mary House to the Board of Education to fill the remaining year of the term left open by the resignation of Jeffrey Selser was also made official by a unanimous vote.

In a meeting lasting just under 90 minutes, councilors approved a first reading of an ordinance updating city fire codes, but the changes will not include any provisions requiring sprinkler systems in new one- or two-family dwellings.

City Manager Jim Gailey said the possible requirement is still under study, but it was necessary to move forward with other changes.

City residents seeking to renew vehicle registrations will likely have to pay off outstanding parking fines or set up court dates to answer the summonses after councilors also approved a first reading of an amendment to the city ordinance on motor vehicles and traffic.

The ordinance was also revised to incorporate terms accommodating a Police Department shift from issuing handwritten citations to ones generated digitally.

By a unanimous vote, councilors also approved closing Hinckley Drive between Ocean and Cottage streets from 4-8 p.m. Dec. 7 for the annual Holiday Fest in Mill Creek Park. Cohen said the annual Christmas tree lighting will occur at about 6:15 p.m.

The meeting was also the last formal meeting for District 4 Councilor Maxine Beecher, who departs after three, three-year terms. Beecher also served one term on the Board of Education. Cohen will fill her seat.

Before Cohen and Linscott will be sworn in Dec. 3, the current council and Board of Education will meet for a joint workshop at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 28 at City Hall.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

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De Angelis takes parting shots at other councilors

SOUTH PORTLAND — Departing City Councilor Rosemarie DeAngelis on Monday blamed her Election Day loss to Melissa Linscott on Councilors Tom Blake, Maxine Beecher, Jerry Jalbert and Al Livingston.

De Angelis, in comments at Monday’s council meeting, said the election was “grounded in fear, fueled by hatred and intolerance.”

She said her council colleagues sought a District 3 candidate to oppose her because they were “on a mission to be sure that Rosemarie De Angelis was not re-elected.”

Linscott defeated De Angelis 7,146 to 5,516 in citywide voting. On Election Day, Jalbert and Livingston, who were not up for re-election, shook hands with voters outside the polls and expressed their support for Linscott; Beecher wrote letters to area newspapers expressing her support for De Angelis’ opponent.

De Angelis, who admitted her comments would look like “sour grapes” said “Melissa did not come forward of her own accord to serve her community. Linscott was just the first to say yes.”

De Angelis said her last term was marked by bad relationships with the other councilors, caused by her determination to speak up. Noting her selection as mayor in December 2009 over Beecher came by a 4-3 vote rather than the usual unanimous show of support, De Angelis called the opposing votes “an act of hate.”

Jalbert was unable to attend Monday’s meeting, and Blake, Livingston and Beecher were called to an executive session after the round-robin comments, leaving only Linscott to dispute the suggestion she will not speak her mind as a councilor.

“That will come to light as I sit and do my job,” she said.

Linscott also said she considered running for the School Board before she was approached by a councilor to run in District 3.

“(The election) was the decision of citizens of the city,” she said. “That’s the bottom line.”

— David Harry

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.