Stage set for competitive elections in Cape Elizabeth

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Two town officials aren’t seeking re-election this year, leaving open seats on the Town Council and the School Board.

Town Councilor Frank Governali, whose first full term on the council ends in December, said on Monday that he does not intend to file nomination papers for the Nov. 5 election. The same is true for School Board member Mary Townsend, who has served since 2008.

In total, there are four municipal offices up for grabs: two seats on Town Council and two seats on the School Board.

Nomination papers aren’t due to the town clerk until 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, but it already appears there will be at least six candidates on the ballot: three vying for the seats on the Town Council and three competing for the School Board.

Governali didn’t give a specific reason for bowing out of contention, other than to say it’s ideal to have a “continual refreshing of the Town Council.”

“It’s a really good idea to get more people, with diverse viewpoints, on board,” he said. “It would be good for more people to participate, to get a connection with what goes on in the community. I don’t feel compelled to do multiple terms.”

On the School Board, Townsend said she plans “to pursue other interests. There’s no reason other than that.”

Town Council

Besides Governali, the other town councilor whose term is expiring is Caitlin Jordan.

Jordan has taken out papers for re-election, and two other possible candidates have also emerged: Imad B. Khalidi and Martha MacAuslan, both of whom are political newcomers.

Khalidi, 61, is CEO of Auto Europe, an international car rental reservation business in Portland. He was born in 1951 in Jerusalem, which was part of Jordan at the time, and has lived in Cape Elizabeth, as a U.S. citizen, for 20 years.

Khalidi hasn’t sat on any boards, but said he has been involved in the community, including a substantial donation to the town’s turf field, he said.

Khalidi said he’s running to maintain a high level of education, low crime rate and open green spaces in Cape Elizabeth.

“I have fulfilled the American dream and my goal is to give back to America what America gave to me,” he said. “Maybe the Town Council is one way of expressing my gratitude to the country.”

MacAuslan, whom most people know as Molly, is semi-retired and a part-time graduate student at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Centre, Mass. Although she has never held an elected office, MacAuslan, 54, has sat on about a dozen boards and committees during the past 15 years, including the Library Planning Committee, Cape Elizabeth Educational Foundation and the School Services Delivery Study Committee.

MacAuslan said she’s not running on any particular issue. Instead, she wants to make thoughtful, informed decisions on behalf of the town.

“I’m motivated because I want to do something for the world, not for any self-aggrandizement. There’s certainly a lot of work and little recognition or gratitude in running for Town Council,” she said. “I want to be more engaged in the community.”

Jordan, 30, is co-owner of Alewives Brook Farm and has served on the council for one term. She said she is running for re-election because she believes her background in agriculture provides a unique perspective.

“I think I represent a different class of citizens that live here that’s not represented on the council,” she said.

Jordan is also one of three lawyers who sit on the board.

Governali, who has served a total of four years, said he has enjoyed his tenure on the council.

“It’s been a good experience in terms of seeing how well the council functions and how collaborative it is,” he said. “There’s a wide variety of folks who are committed to the community and work hard to keep it the way it is, and to improve it.”

Governali serves on several boards and committees, including the Open Space Planning Committee, Library Planning Committee and Cemetery Committee. He also serves as chairman of the Town Council Finance Committee. He is a retired partner and managing director at Goldman, Sachs and Co. and worked as a securities analyst for over 20 years.

School Board

The expiring terms on the School Board are Townsend’s and Michael Moore’s. Moore has taken out papers for re-election, and two other potential candidates have emerged: William Gross and Susana Measelle Hubbs.

Moore, an investment advisor with Bigelow Investment Advisors in Portland, has served for one term and is eager for a second, he said.

“There’s some important work to do,” Moore said. “It’s an exciting time in education. There are a lot of changes in curriculum and it’s a great opportunity to shape how the schools are going to look for the next five or 10 years.”

Gross and Hubbs didn’t immediately respond to a reporter’s phone calls.

Townsend, who has served on the board for five years, including a stint as chairwoman, said it was a good experience.

“I’ve enjoyed all five years,” she said. “It’s been a tremendous pleasure and learning experience, I’m just interested in exploring other opportunities and opening up a spot for other people to serve their community and schools.”

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