Bangor will hold a special election in June to fill a seat vacated after a city councilor died of cancer earlier this month.
Councilor Sarah Dubay died on Nov. 12 from lung cancer at the age of 46, the first time a sitting Bangor city councilor had died since Charles Sullivan in 1997. She had been diagnosed with stage four non-small cell lung cancer over the summer, she said in a Facebook post in September, though she said she had never smoked.
The council, headed by recently elected city council chair Rick Fournier, decided on the matter in a workshop meeting on Monday while consulting with city staff, including interim city manager Debbie Laurie. The winner will serve the rest of Dubay’s term through November 2023.
The June election means there will be a vacancy on the council for roughly seven months. An eight-member council could change the dynamic of close votes, as councilors could tie 4-4.
The earliest the city could have set the election was in March, but the council decided to schedule the election for June 14, 2022. Bangor voters will be at the Cross Insurance Center that day to vote in primaries for various offices, including governor, the U.S. House and the Maine Legislature.
Putting the council seat on the ballot with other offices will likely drive interest in the election, since municipal elections that do not coincide with others tend to have low turnout. Just 5 percent of Bangor voters turned out to vote in an April 1998 special election after Sullivan’s death.
Councilors and city staff continued to speak solemnly of Dubay’s death on Monday. A flower arrangement stood in front of her former seat in the council chamber.
Dubay most recently worked as a business development officer at First National Bank and spent more than a decade working for Penobscot Community Health Care, also serving in a number of other civic roles. She continued her council duties until shortly before her death.