BELFAST — There will be no contested City Council races in Belfast this year as current Councilors Neal Harkness, Mary Mortier and Paul Dean, who are up for election this cycle, were the only candidates who filed to run for their seats.

This led to discussion by the council at its Sept. 6 meeting regarding the need for candidates to come forward for City Council seats.

“Something is lost in the body politic of the city when we have unopposed races,” Harkness said.

Harkness further stated, quoting Councilor Mike Hurley, that this is the third year in a row with no contested races for City Council. Harkness then proposed possibly having a public forum to allow the uncontested candidates an opportunity to speak with the voters prior to the election.

“I’d like to hear people step up and give their opinions because we are not going to get the robust back and forth we would get if we were debating opponents who might have some great ideas that haven’t come to us,” he said.

Mayor Eric Sanders said a forum would be a great opportunity for the three councilors to have a chance to speak to the public about their ideas.

Hurley said he was tempted to berate the public for not running in the election, but he didn’t want to encourage anyone to run against the three councilors up for election.

“It is a tremendous loss to the civic conversation of what people believe, why we are doing things we are doing,” Hurley said. “When those are tested in elections, they have the support of the electorate.”

Hurley said the city doesn’t have people coming up through the ranks to learn enough about government.

Hurley said when he ran three years ago he urged Nordic opponents to run against him in order to have a debate about the issue.

Hurley said in a year he would run again and he invites someone to run against him.