Shirley Brissette, one of Old Town's outgoing city councilors. Credit: Courtesy of the City of Old Town.

Shirley Brissette has served on the Old Town City Council for the last four years, and decided against running for reelection because she had served her time in municipal government. But come later this year, there may be no one to take her spot.

There are no candidates to fill the two council vacancies that will be on Old Town’s ballot this November. In addition to Brissette, Council President Kyle Smart isn’t running for reelection. It’s the first time the city will have a City Council election with no candidates on the ballot, according to City Clerk Laura Engstrom.

In addition, only one person is running for two Old Town vacancies on the Regional School Unit 34 board.

“I was so discouraged, I really was,” Brissette said. “We need to get more people involved. We need young people involved. We need that injection.”

Brissette was first elected in 2018 to serve a three-year term. She was elected again last year, and served a year. 

The four years on the councilor rounded out about 30 years of involvement in municipal government in one capacity or another, as Brissette used to work for the Old Town police and fire departments.

Her ultimate reason for running for council when she threw her hat into the ring in 2018 was to fulfill what she felt was her duty.

“I grew up in an age when civic duty was an important part of your community,” Brissette said. “That was just part of our schooling.”

The goal going forward for the city should be to get more young people involved and to carry on the economic progress Brissette said she’s seen since she joined the council in 2018.

“I do believe we’ll make it. It’s been a tough run the last 30 years. We were once a viable community, and our downtown is sad right now — but it’s building,” she said. “You’ve got to be positive. I have no doubt — the folks who are on the council and those that come on will continue that progress.”

The lack of registered candidates for the City Council and school board seats means the city will have to rely on write-in candidates, who do not need to register before Election Day, Engstrom said.

If no one accepts a nomination to the council, the body can proceed with only five members instead of seven, as that still constitutes a quorum, Engstrom said. The council could also choose to hold a special election in the future to fill the positions, she said.

Those who want to run for council or school board will have time to campaign and promote themselves as write-in candidates until the Nov. 2 election, Engstrom said.

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Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is a reporter covering Old Town, Orono and the surrounding areas. A recent graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he's worked for Vermont Public Radio, The...