Voters will head to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 2, to elect local candidates in some communities, address town meeting articles, and weigh in on three questions on the state ballot.
Actually, in Kennebunk, a high number of voters already have cast absentee ballots – an unusual development for this kind of election year, in which there are no candidates seeking office in Kennebunk, according to Town Clerk Merton Brown.
Brown figured this week there could be a couple of reasons behind the uptick. The historic Barnard Tavern could be one of them – on the ballot, voters are being asked whether the town should give up its right to block the structure from being torn down.
‘This house is tired’: Owners to rebuild Barnard Tavern — if Kennebunk gives its blessing
And the other reason? The more likely one, according to Brown? Last year, more voters than ever cast absentee ballots as a health and safety precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic, so they are voting absentee once again this year, Brown said.
“Those folks found out how easy it is,” he said.
Brown said his office had issued 1,250 absentee ballots as of Monday, Oct. 25.
“That’s a lot of absentee voters for this kind of election,” he said.
Typically, the town gets only about 250 requests for absentee ballots during an election season that does not have any local, state or presidential or congressional candidates to consider, Brown said.
Voters who requested an absentee ballot but haven’t received one in the mail can ask the town clerk’s office to reissue a second ballot, Brown said. But he recommended they pick up a ballot in person inside Kennebunk Town Hall and return it in the drop box outside.
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In Sanford, City Clerk Sue Cote also reported a higher level of absentee voting than in the last election of this kind in 2019. Cote said her office had issued 1,015 absentee ballots as of early Monday afternoon.
Cote suggested Question 1 on the state ballot could be driving some of the voter interest this time around. Voters are being asked if they want to ban the construction of the transmission lines Central Maine Power is hoping to build in the Upper Kennebec region of the state. The issue has generated a lot of debate, with signs, television and radio ads, and mailers prevalent lately.
Another reason for voter interest could be a trio of contested races in Sanford, Cote said.
Candidates on the ballot in Sanford, Ogunquit
On Nov. 2, Sanford voters will elect candidates to the city council, school committee, and the boards of trustees of the local water and sewerage district.
Two three-year seats are up for grabs on the Sanford City Council. Incumbent Ayn Hanselmann is facing challenges from Victor DiGregorio and Fred Smith, both of whom have served on the council before, and political newcomers Becky Brink and Michael Termath.
Candidates Jennifer Davie and Tonya Pickering are both on the ballot in their bids to succeed Sanford School Committee Chair Don Jamison, who is not seeking reelection.
Three candidates are on the ballot for a single three-year seat as a Sanford Water District trustee: incumbent John Cochin and challengers Melissa Alipalo and Shawn Parker.
Incumbent Paul Demers has the ballot to himself in his bid for three more years as a trustee of the Sanford Sewerage District.
In Ogunquit, a special election for Select Board will be held on Tuesday for the second time this year. Carole J. Aaron is the lone candidate in the race to finish a term vacated by Lindsey Perry. The term will expire in June.
Also, Peter J. Kahn and Sol J. Wachtel are vying for a single unexpired term on the town’s Budget Review Committee.
Voters to tackle town meeting articles
In Kennebunk, voters on Tuesday will be asked to authorize the town to release its right of enforcement of a covenant for a deed attached to the aforementioned Barnard Tavern. If voters approve, the current owners of the structure will be closer to their hopes of converting it to senior housing.
The covenant, established and recorded in 2016, states that the tavern “may not be torn down.” The covenant is enforceable by the town and its original grantor, Jo R. Johnson, the trustee of the Johnson Property Trust. Johnson deeded the property to C & K Realty Corporation five years ago.
Kari Gates and her husband, Randy, purchased the property earlier this year and hope to deconstruct and reconstruct the tavern and revive it as senior housing. For this to happen, the town and Johnson both would need to release its right of enforcing the covenant.
The Kennebunk Select Board is recommending passage of this referendum question.
Also on the ballot, voters will be asked to accept Longfellow Lane as a Town Way and to change the zoning classification of a property from Village Residential to Upper Square District. The select board recommends approving the Town Way request, while the Kennebunk Planning Board, by a vote of 4-1, recommends making the zoning change.
The property in question is a triangular lot behind 8 Summer Street and some back land at 10 Summer Street. The town sold the land earlier this year, and the new owner is hoping to have it zoned Upper Square for consistency, for the proposed construction of apartment buildings. The plan is available for review in the town’s Community Development Department.
In Wells, voters have three housekeeping items on their Nov. 2 ballot.
One article seeks to amend the local Land Use Ordinance to define a business and a seasonal tent – a familiar sight at restaurants and elsewhere during the COVID-19 pandemic – and exempt them from the town’s definition of a structure.
A second article also aims to amend the Land Use Ordinance, in this case to revise the town’s Reviewing Authority Process.
The final article seeks to revise the final plan procedure and submission requirements for subdividing land in town.
In addition to settling two races, Ogunquit voters on Nov. 2 will decide 33 articles on a special town meeting warrant. Many of the articles seek monies from the Unassigned Fund Balance to purchase software and equipment, make IT upgrades, beautify the town, and repair the bridge at Perkins Cove and build two docks there, among other capital-improvement requests.
The full warrant appears on the town’s website.
Arundel and Kennebunkport
Arundel and Kennebunkport do not have municipal ballots this time around. Voters in those communities will still want to head to the polls, however, as they will join others throughout Maine in deciding the fates of three questions on the state ballot.
State ballot includes bond, Constitutional amendment
I addition to Question 1, the state ballot puts two more matters before voters this Tuesday.
Question 2 asks voters if they favor a $100 million bond issue to build or improve roads, bridges, airports, transit facilities and ports, as well as make other transportation investments. The sum would be used to leverage an estimated $253 million in federal and other funds.
Question 3 asks voters if they want to amend the state Constitution to “declare that all individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health, and well-being.”
Where to vote on Tuesday
In Kennebunk, polls will be open at the Town Hall at 1 Summer Street on Tuesday, Nov. 2, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In Kennebunkport, polls will be open at the Village Fire Station at 32 North Street from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In Arundel, polls will be open at the Town Hall at 257 Limerick Road from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In Wells, polls will be open at the Wells Junior High School gymnasium at 1470 Post Road from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In Ogunquit, polls will be open at the Ogunquit Town Office at 23 School Street from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
And in Sanford, voters in Ward 1 will cast their ballots Tuesday at the Nasson Community Center at 457 Main Street in Springvale. Those in Ward 2 will vote at the St. Ignatius Parish Hall at 25 Riverside Avenue. Voters in Ward 3 will report to the Sanford High School gymnasium at 100 Alumni Boulevard. Polls will be open at all three sites from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.