Uncontested candidates win City Council, School Board seats in South Portland

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SOUTH PORTLAND — There were no surprises in the unofficial results of Tuesday’s city elections.

All the candidates ran uncontested races for City Council and School Board. Most were incumbents, and none are strangers to civic life in South Portland.

Unofficial turnout was about 40 percent, or nearly 7,300 voters.

In District 1, incumbent Councilor Tom Coward, 57, of Woodbury Street, was re-elected to a second term. Coward is an attorney with Keller Williams in Portland, and has lived in South Portland since 1982. Coward said he hopes to focus on strategic planning during his next three years as a councilor.

In District 2, incumbent Councilor Patti Smith, 49, of Parrott Street, was also elected to a second term. Smith, a three-year resident of South Portland, works as director of strategic initiatives, domestic sales and operations at Planet Dog in Portland. She has been an advocate for open space in the city.

New to the City Council is Gerard Jalbert, who won election in District 5. Jalbert, 54, of Rhode Island Avenue, will take the seat of former Councilor Jim Hughes, who was termed out of office.

Jalbert was most recently a member of the Planning Board, and said he’s most interested in making sure the city can responsibly keep its budget balanced. Jalbert is a loan officer for MetLife.

Also in District 5, incumbent Tappan Fitzgerald, 43, of Massachusetts Avenue, was re-elected to the School Board to serve his first full term. Fitzgerald, a community relations specialist for Hannaford Bros., said the upcoming talks on the school district’s budget will be especially challenging thanks to a decline in federal funding.

Picking up her third term on the School Board was Karen Callaghan, 54, of Alfred Street. The circulation desk clerk for the South Portland Public Library said she hopes to get more residents involved in the school system, whether they have children in the system or not.

Jeffrey Selser, 40, of Summitt Street, won his first term on the School Board, but is no newcomer to South Portland schools. Selser, an attorney with Verrill Dana in Portland, was spokesman for the PAC that advocated the successful push for a $41 million bond last year to renovate the high school.

He said he’d like to rework the budget process to get more early, public participation.

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or mmoretto@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @riocarmine.