Casco board seeking fifth selectman

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — As two new members joined the Casco Board of Selectmen for the first time since town meeting, nothing was amiss, but something was missing.

Currently, there are only four people on the five-member board.

This spring, two seats were up for new terms; and those were filled by Holly Hancock and Calvin Nutting during the Primary Election held on June 10. Additionally, former Selectman Ray Grant tendered his resignation from the board in late May.

On Monday, the board opted to hold the election for a fifth selectman during the November polling date.

This will give residents time to take out their papers as well as allowing the town to get the candidates on the November ballot.

According to Town Manager Dave Morton — as outlined by the town clerk, advertising for the board seat should occur at least 45 days prior to the election, which gives candidates time to take out papers. The selectmen could vote to have that period shortened — a month in advance of the polling day.

Regardless, the agreed upon time frame means that there will be a vacant seat on the board for four full months — or roughly eight more meetings.

This has not posed a problem so far.

“Right now, we are off to a rip-roaring start with 4-0 votes,” said Selectman Mary-Vienessa Fernandes.

According to Morton, the board had a couple options available to it. The board could set up a special election to get the seat filled as quickly as possible or it could wait and hold the election in conjunction with the November election, he said.

Morton estimated the cost of a local election to be between $800 and $900.

“Doing it with the November election, there would be no additional cost because we are doing it anyway,” he said, adding there would be a minimal cost to get candidate’s names added to the 2014 ballot.

Selectman Hancock weighed in on the matter.

“Given a poor turnout and the cost, a special election is not as viable. By November, there might be some people interested in running,” Hancock said.

Selectman Grant Plummer asked the town manager if residents had expressed any concerns about the board operating without a fifth person.

“I haven’t heard any concerns, only interest. Some people have asked me, ‘What if there is a tie vote?’ Some people thought (the board) could appoint the fifth person. It is more an issue of curiosity than concern,” Morton said.

The board made a motion to accept the four-member selectmen committee, and to schedule an election for the fifth board member in November. The vote was unanimous.

Also, on Monday, Fernandes relinquished her role as chairman, and nominated Plummer for the position of chair. The vote was 4-0, with Plummer hesitating to cast a vote for his self.

In turn, the board decided Fernandes was the best person to serve as vice-chair — given that Hancock and Nutting were getting up to speed with current issues and policies of the selectmen.

As she parted with the gavel, Fernandes spoke.

“It has been a humbling experience. I have loved being part of the creative ideas and thinking outside of the box,” she said.

“Dave (Morton) and I have met diligently for the past two years. We have met weekly,” she said.

Fernandes said that with her campaign for the District 66 House of Representative seat, she would not have the time to fulfill the role of board chairman.

At the end of meeting, Cumberland County Commissioner Susan Witonis offered congratulations to Fernandes for what she had accomplished during her role as chairman.

“Mary, thank you for the job you have done. It is not an easy job; it is not an easy task,” Witonis said, adding she has first-hand experience, having served in that capacity locally.

“I see the board going ahead; and, I want to thank you Mary,” she said.

 

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