The filing deadline for Belfast City Council and the Regional School Unit 20 board of directors candidates passed Aug. 31, leaving three contested Council races and the likelihood of empty seats on the school board.

City Council Wards 1, 2 and 5 will be up for grabs in November, with two candidates vying for each seat.

In Ward 1, Councilor Marina Delune will try for re-election against Planning Board Chairman Roger Pickering.

Asked about her decision to seek a second term, Delune said, “I kind of feel like I’m just hitting my stride. I know where I can be useful, and I understand the process.”

Delune said one of her conditions for seeking office the first time was that she run unopposed, which she did in 2008. This time, she said, she feels more confident and welcomes the competition.

“My only regret is that I’m going to have to deal with lawn signs,” she joked.

Pickering, who took out nomination papers and returned them on the day of the deadline, said he had been asked to run by a number of people but only made up his mind recently.

“I would like to see more job opportunities than there are,” he said, “for both the young people, to be able to keep them here, and for people who are semi-retired … That’s the big thing. Jobs.”

Asked about the differences between the authority of the Planning Board and the City Council, Pickering pointed out that the board is required to base its decisions on the city’s zoning ordinance. The same ordinance could be changed by the Council, he said.

Ward 2

Ward 2 Councilor Roger Lee is seeking re-election against political newcomer Rita Horsey. A third candidate, Matthew McDonald, submitted nomination papers last week but withdrew them before the deadline.

Horsey said she is running for the Council seat because she wants to represent the people of Belfast. “A lot of people don’t understand the importance of local government. But the Council touches the life of all the people in Belfast,” she said.

Horsey said she has concerns about how city tax money is spent, and offered as examples two proposed city expenditures, the purchase of the Crosby School for a performing arts center and the Coastal Walkway, a recreational path that would run between the footbridge and Steamboat Landing.

She also said she wants to know if the Council’s decision to hire an economic development director has been worth the expense of the new position.

Incumbent Ward 2 Councilor Roger Lee is seeking a third term. Asked why, he said:

“I think I’ve found that I can contribute, that I’ve made a difference. I think I bring a thoughtful, practical, willing-to-listen approach to the City Council.

“Some people have a kind of an ideology and stubbornness that I don’t think I have,” he said. “I’ve changed my mind on issues. Important issues.” He offered the big-box compromise that allowed for a large retail store on one designated Route 3 parcel as an example.

Lee said he had been instrumental in keeping the city’s budget in check. He pointed to the drop in the mill rate over the past five years, from 19.3 to 18.1 (dollars per $1,000 of property value). “I don’t think that’s a coincidence in any way,” he said. “I really, honestly believe if I hadn’t been there it would have gone up.”

Without making radical cuts that he would disagree with, like reducing the police force, Lee said it would be difficult to cut the city budget much more than has been done during his tenure.

“I don’t think you can say that there’s some kind of excessive spending going on,” he said.

McDonald, who told VillageSoup Aug. 28 that he would take a “common sense” approach based on fiscal responsibility, said the following day that he planned to withdraw his candidacy.

“There are two good candidates,” he said. “I think either one of them would do a good job.” According to Interim City Clerk Robin Reynolds, McDonald withdrew his candidacy Aug. 30, citing “health reasons.”

Ward 5

In Ward 5, John Arrison and Nancy Hamilton will compete for the Council seat held by Lewis Baker, who is making a bid for the Maine House of Representatives District 43 seat.

Speaking on Aug. 27, Hamilton said she was waiting for someone else to run, but until then it hadn’t happened. “I decided it was something someone needed to do,” she said.

The Ward 5 candidate said her principal concerns are jobs and taxes, which she sees as “two sides of the same coin.” She expressed concern about the lack of job opportunities in the community and said she wants to ensure that the taxes residents pay are used wisely.

“We’re blessed with a surplus — that’s rare in this economy,” she said. “But because we have a surplus, there’s an awful lot of people who feel that it needs to be spent.”

Hamilton gave the proposed civic center as an example of what she believes to be an unwise use of tax money.

John Arrison, responding by e-mail to a request for comment, called Belfast “a very important place in my life and my heart,” adding that he has been encouraged to run before, and now feels ready to serve.

“While working for the benefit of the city as a whole, I want to be available and sensitive to the concerns of the people of Ward 5, whose voices are not always heard,” he said.

“I bring no particular agenda, and my role is to consider thoughtfully the many issues, points of business, needs, concerns and opportunities this city has as it works its way out of the influences of this recession and into better times.”

A drawing was held Aug. 31 to determine ballot placement. The candidates for City Council will be listed in the following order:

Ward 1: Roger Pickering, Marina Delune. Ward 2: Rita Horsey, Roger Lee. Ward 5: Nancy Hamilton, John Arrison.

School board and election officials

The field of potential school board candidates includes current board members Margaret Andrews, Stephen Kirkpatrick and Orya Shomron. Board member Matthew Small took out papers but did not return them before the deadline. Newcomer Walter Fitzjurls had also taken out nomination papers, but withdrew before the deadline.

Other open positions, including election wardens and ward clerks, drew four candidates for 10 open positions. Reynolds said the small turnout was typical.

“We end up either appointing them or they get in on a write-in,” she said. “We really need more election workers. … A lot of our workers are older. They’ve been doing it for a long time and they’re either burnt out or tired of it.”

VillageSoup will publish in-depth candidate profiles in the months leading up to the election.