Two vye for Ward 5 seat; no takers for RSU 20 board

Last-minute entries make one contest in Belfast Council races

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 10:15am

    BELFAST - 2014 was shaping up to be another year of uncontested City Council races. But a pair of last-minute entrants from Ward 5 have changed that. John Arrison and Kassie Merrill both submitted papers last Friday, the final day of the nomination period for local elections.

    Wards 1 and 2, also on the November ballot. Each seat has one official candidate.

    Merrill, a social worker, said her decision to run for City Council was was motivated by the same thing that prompted her to move here from Winterport several years ago: a belief in “what Belfast is, and what it has been and could be.”

    “Our ward is here on the other side of the river and I wanted to make sure that we’re very much a vibrant part of the be community,” she said. I’m passionate about the city and hope that I can contribute even if it’s just by running and giving people a choice.”

    Arrison, an independent contractor of marine systems, lost a 2010 bid for the Ward 5 seat to outgoing Councilor Nancy Hamilton. Asked why he decided to make another run, he said during his 20 years in Belfast he’s “enjoyed the city very much, and appreciate[s] what it does.”  

    “I have time and I believe I have enough of the skills and abilities to participate,” he said. “I don’t have any specific agenda that I’m getting in [to city government] to carry out. I just want to help out.“ 

    Arrison’s name was chosen at random by city staff to appear first on the ballot.

    Ward 1 Councilor Mary Mortier is running uncontested for a second term.

    Neal Harkness will be the only name on the ballot for Ward 2. The seat will be vacated by four-term Councilor Roger Lee, who opted not to run for a fifth. Last month, Harkness talked about his reasons for running, including a desire to give back a community that has been welcoming to him.

    In other local races, two seats will open up on the Regional School Unit 20 board of directors. Neither of the current directors, Christopher Hyk or Stephanie Wade, is seeking re-election. As of the nomination deadline no new candidates had come forward. 

    Belfast has six seats on the RSU 20 board. These have turned over frequently and vacancies have been common. The City Council has the authority to appoint new board members to fill empty seats on the board.

    Ethan Andrews can be reached at