A special election is likely to fill a Bangor City Council seat held by a first-term councilor who passed away from cancer, according to the chair of Bangor’s council.
Sarah Dubay, 46, died at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center on Friday from lung cancer. The City Council will likely call a special election to fill her seat and plans to explore its options at a meeting next week, council Chair Rick Fournier said Monday.
Dubay is the first Bangor councilor to die in office since Charles Sullivan, 68, died from liver disease in December 1997, Bangor City Clerk Lisa Goodwin said. Sullivan, a professor at Husson University, was first elected to the council in 1992.
The City Council can either wait until the next regular municipal election in November 2022 or call a special election to fill Dubay’s seat, according to city code. Dubay was one year into her three-year term.
Following Sullivan’s 1997 death, the council considered not filling his seat before it was up for election the following November. Ultimately, councilors decided a full council would be preferable in that interval due to important votes, including on the city budget. It ordered a special election in April 1998.
Gerry Palmer Jr. won that election.
Before Sullivan, Dr. Bill Shubert died of cancer in 1994 while a member of the council, and Councilor Buddy Gass died in 1985, presumed to have drowned in a boating accident on the Union River.
Dubay most recently worked as a business development officer at First National Bank and spent more than a decade beforehand working for Penobscot Community Health Care along with serving in a number of other civic roles. She had continued her council duties until the past several weeks.
Dubay had been diagnosed with Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer over the summer, she said in a Facebook post from September. She said she had never smoked or done drugs.
Though lung cancer is popularly associated with tobacco use, around 10 to 20 percent of Americans diagnosed with lung cancer every year have never smoked or smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes previously, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dubay last posted an update on her treatment over social media on Oct. 13, less than a month before her death. She thanked the many who had sent well-wishes, saying they had helped her immensely during her cancer battle.