Brenda Bonneville (left), the owner of Ambiance in downtown Belfast, and Ridgely Fuller, a retired social worker, are running for Belfast City Council in a contested race. Credit: Abigail Curtis | BDN; Courtesy of Ridgely Fuller

BELFAST, Maine — A two-woman race is set for the Ward 3 seat on Belfast City Council later this year.

Brenda Bonneville, 55, and Sophia “Ridgely” Fuller, 72, will battle for the seat being vacated by Councilor Eric Sanders, who is running unopposed for mayor.

It will be the only contested race in the city for the November elections. The filing deadline for candidates was Monday.

Both women are political newcomers.

Bonneville is the owner of Ambiance, a vintage lamps and antiques shop on Main Street, who said she decided to run for office to help swing the political pendulum of the city more toward the center.

The past year and a half has been turbulent in Belfast politics. Residents are divided over the proposal for a controversial land-based salmon farm. They’re also split on conversations around Mayor Samantha Paradis, who has been a lightning rod for controversy during her two-year term. Paradis announced in June she would not seek reelection.

“It’s troubling that there’s been this animosity,” said Bonneville, who moved to Belfast with her family 14 years ago. “I think it’s time the page can be turned. I know it’s been contentious at council meetings. I would like to be part of a fresh, new dynamic.”

Bonneville has experience serving on the board of Waterfall Arts for nine years and brings to her campaign a willingness to listen to all voices and a strong love of the community.

“I’m not afraid to give my opinion,” Bonneville said, adding that she understands critics of the proposed salmon farm and of Belfast residents who would like to see some tax relief. “I’m interested in bringing a balance, and I’m interested in helping and listening.”

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Fuller, 72, who goes by her middle name Ridgely, is a retired social worker who’s lived in the city for more than six years. She’s been involved in community organizing all her life and also mentioned the municipal tumult as a primary reason for why she’s running for office.

“The fabric of our community has had some serious ruptures. That’s really, really bothered me,” said Fuller, who lives at the Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage. “What I want to do is help rebuild the community and to appreciate that every person matters.”

She said that transparency and collaboration are important to her, and that if elected she would focus on the climate crisis and strengthening the local economy and community.

“What kind of Belfast do we want to live in?” she asked.

In her years in the city, Fuller has trained with Hospice Volunteers of Waldo County and volunteered with the Restorative Justice Project. She also is interested in finding solutions to rising housing costs, food insecurity and poverty.

“We can solve these problems,” she said. “I really believe that.”

Belfast voters will cast their ballots for City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

You can learn how to register to vote here.

Watch the Dec. 17 meeting about the proposed Belfast fish farm