Candidates off and running in Westbrook

With about six weeks until Election Day, the final list of candidates for open municipal seats in Westbrook is set, and candidates have begun the campaign push.

Monday, Sept. 26, was the deadline for candidates to submit nomination papers, and City Clerk Angela Holmes was quick to solidify the list of candidates for the eight municipal seats up for grabs.

The mayoral race features four candidates: Democrats Michael Shaughnessy and Mike Sanphy, independent James Tranchemontagne, and political newcomer Jason Jerrier, who’s unenrolled.

Mayor Colleen Hilton, in the last few months of her third term, announced prior to the Democratic caucus that she would not seek re-election. She endorsed Shaughnessy during the Democratic caucus Sept. 6.

Now, each of the mayoral candidates is ramping up campaign efforts. Last week, Tranchemontagne, who was the first to announce a bid for mayor, held his second campaign rally at his downtown restuarant, the Frog & Turtle.

“We are putting signs out and getting ready to start more door knocking,” he said.

Tranchemontagne lost to Hilton in 2013.

Sanphy, who lost the Democratic caucus vote to Shaughnessy and subsequently filed nomination papers, also hosted a campaign meeting last week. He said Tuesday that he’s heard from supporters all over the city, who represent all political parties.

In Westbrook, candidates can either be nominated during an official party caucus, or collect the required amount of petition signatures to be nominated.

Shaughnessy is hosting a campaign event at his home at 89 Conant St. on Wednesday at 6 p.m., after the American Journal’s weekly print deadline.

“I have been doing doors and will continue to up to the last minute,” he said, adding that campaign signs will be going up next week.

Jerrier, a newcomer, told the American Journal this week that he was inspired to run due to what he believes is a lack of responsiveness from city employees, wasteful spending and overdevelopment. Jerrier, 44, is a retired Army veteran who has lived in Westbrook since 2005. He said since he’s retired, “I have the time to devote to the problems the town is facing, and to treat it as a full-time job.”

The mayoral candidates will get a chance to air their differences during a candidate night hosted by Continuum for Creativity, tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the downtown arts space.

There is also a crowded field for an at-large City Council seat, which will be vacated by longtime Councilor Michael Foley. Candidates Jeff Labbe, Ann Peoples and Steve Willette will all appear on the November ballot. Peoples, a former Westbrook state representative, was chosen as the Democratic nominee at caucus.

The remaining contested race is in City Council Ward 2, where incumbent Victor Chau faces a challenge from Veronica Bates, a current member of the School Committee. Chau was chosen as the nominee at the Democratic caucus, and Bates submitted nomination papers.

Leading up to the election, the city clerk’s office has scheduled a first-of-its-kind event aimed at Westbrook’s newer residents.

The city is hosting a community presentation called “Elections: Your Rights & the Voting Process,” on Thursday, Oct. 6, from 5-7 p.m., at the Westbrook Community Center.

In describing the event, Holmes said the city’s growing immigrant population could yield many first-time voters at the election, and the discussion is aimed at educating anyone interested in knowing more about the election process.

“Therefore, we have invited members of those communities to a workshop to learn more about voter rights, polling places, referendums and voter privacy/safety, amongst other topics,” she said. “While this presentation is geared toward those who may be first-time voters, we welcome anyone who may be curious about the election process.”

Translation services will be provided in Arabic, French, Russian and Somali, and guests include Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, Mayor Colleen Hilton and City Councilor Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte, an Armenian refugee from Baku, Azerbaijan.

A CLOSER LOOK

The final list of Westbrook candidates:

Mayor: Jason Allen Jerrier, Mike Sanphy, Michael Shaughnessy, James Tranchemontagne

Councilor, At-Large: Jeff Labbe, Ann E. Peoples, Steve Willette

Councilor, Ward 1: Brendan P. Rielly

Councilor, Ward 2: Veronica L. Bates, Victor Chau

Councilor, Ward 5: Lynda Adams

School Committee, At-Large: Suzanne Joyce

School Committee, Ward 3: Noreen Poitras

School Committee, Ward 4: Michael Popovic