Wednesday, April 23, 2014
By Michael Shepherd firstname.lastname@example.org
AUGUSTA — Seven people have taken out papers to run for three City Council spots, including some familiar political faces.
Dale McCormick, the former executive director of MaineHousing, listens to a conference call on March 20, 2012 in her former Augusta office. McCormick, who resigned during a feud with the LePage administration over allegations of financial improprieties, has taken out nomination papers for an at-large Augusta City Council seat.
Staff file photo by Joe Phelan
Dale McCormick, a former state senator, treasurer and head of the Maine State Housing Authority, has taken out nomination papers to run for one of two at-large spots on the council, as have former councilors Mary Mayo-Wescott and Jay John Ray.
Meanwhile, at-large Councilor Cecil Munson has taken out papers to run for re-election, while Councilor Daniel Emery, who also holds an at-large seat, said he won't run again because he's leaving in January on a cross-country project focused on finding solutions to reduce hunger.
Councilor Patrick Paradis, representing Ward 3 in north Augusta, is also running for re-election. He's being challenged by Paul Rodrigue, a local building contractor. Another candidate, Tom Connors, is running for an at-large seat.
McCormick clashed with Gov. Paul LePage, former State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin and legislative Republicans when they questioned her financial management of the housing authority. She resigned that position in March 2012.
An investigation by the Legislature's watchdog arm, released in May 2012, found no fraud within the authority, a quasi-independent state agency. Still, the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability said while expenses reviewed were "generally consistent" with the authority's mission, there were also expenses that "might be questioned as unnecessary."
For example, the authority paid at least $9,625 from 2007 to 2011 for business meals for administrators and staff members who weren't traveling, a practice OPEGA's director said is limited in other state offices.
Winning the seat would return her to public office for the first time since her resignation. McCormick said she was asked to run for City Council last November, but she was "still healing."
"I'm a problem-solver," McCormick said. "I've got a record of hard work and fresh ideas."
In a Wednesday press release, Mayo-Wescott, a councilor from 1993 to 2002 who hosts the television program "Maine View Business Magazine," broadcast on Time Warner Cable, said she was running "because these are challenging times which call for an experienced community and business leader."
Connors, who works for the Maine State Forensic Service, runs a Facebook page where he dubs himself an "Augusta watchdog," often commenting on city political issues.
He said he was motivated to run largely by conflict between the City Council and school board over the $27.4 million school budget passed in June. As a result of the school and city budgets, local property owners are estimated to see taxes increase by an estimated 3.4 percent.
"I think we can do better as a city," Connors said.
Ray, who didn't return a message for this story, served on the City Council from 1989 to 1996, according to a city document. A number listed for Rodrigue was disconnected Friday.
The slate of candidates for the council races isn't necessarily final. Augusta's city charter says candidates must gather at least 100 signatures from residents and turn in nomination papers between the first Tuesday and third Tuesday of August — Aug. 6 and Aug. 20 this year — to get on the ballot.
Michael Shepherd — 621-5632
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Staff file photo by Joe Phelan