BANGOR, Maine — Voters returned incumbent David Nealley to the City Council and elected political newcomer Sarah Nichols as well as former state lawmaker Joe Perry on Tuesday in a seven-way battle for three council seats.
The election results likely mean the death of Councilor Joe Baldacci’s proposed ordinance to raise the minimum wage in Bangor to $8.25 per hour on Jan. 1 with future wage hikes to follow.
The council is slated to consider that issue on Nov. 23, but with sitting councilors in a 3-3 tie on the issue prior to the election, only Nichols has expressed support for the wage hike.
Nichols and Megan “Meg” Shorette were the only two candidates who openly supported the local minimum wage hike. Shorette came in fourth in the race, approximately 164 votes behind Nealley, according to unofficial results.
A proposed compromise ordinance that would raise the local minimum wage only if a statewide minimum-wage referendum proposed by the Maine People’s Alliance fails is still on the table, but has only been discussed at the committee level.
That ordinance stands a better chance of passing. Nichols said Monday night she will continue pushing for a minimum wage hike in Bangor and Perry said he may support the compromise proposal.
The proposal, authored by Councilor Josh Plourde, would raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour in 2017 with future wage hikes to follow.
The new council will meet at 10 a.m. Monday for a swearing-in ceremony and to elect the council chair for the next year. Nealley, Nichols and Perry all have said they have no interest in the position.
Nealley, 54, was the only incumbent to seek re-election this year. A longtime Bangor businessman who is now publisher of Maine Seniors magazine, he ran on a platform that touted his experience and called for continued improvements to city infrastructure without undue tax increases.
Nichols, 25, who serves as development coordinator for St. Joseph Healthcare in Bangor, ran a campaign that supported the issue of a local minimum wage as a means to provide a livable wage as well as expanded hours for the region’s public transportation system.
She is now the only woman on the council.
Perry, 49, served 14 years in the Maine Legislature until he lost re-election to the Maine Senate in 2010. He owns Garland Street Market in Bangor.
He came as a late entry to the race, vowing to use his legislative experience to avoid gridlock on the council as well as fight attempts by state lawmakers to force municipalities to make tough budget cuts by slashing programs like revenue sharing.
In the three-way race for two open school committee seats, voters elected Brian Doore and Jennifer DeGroff. David Sturm placed third.
Follow Evan Belanger on Twitter at @evanbelanger.