The Journey of James Soule

South Portland City Councilor James Soule will not be seeking re-election.  James Soule has served an eventful three terms on Council, including a stint as mayor.

jamessouleSoule served as mayor of South Portland in 2008.  During his inaugural address Soule shocked listeners by suggesting Southern Maine secede and form its own state.  Soule cited the long standing theory of the “Two Maines” as the basis for his suggestion.  Soule called the state government an “oppressive regime” that withholds rightful amounts of aid.  “The state of Maine needs South Portland more than South Portland needs the state of Maine,” said Soule.  Though some agreed with Soule’s sentiment that Southern Maine carried an unfair burden, the idea never gained any traction. Current South Portland Mayor Tom Blake defeated Soule for the position last November.

More recently, Councilor Soule sought to reduce health benefits for South Portland City Councilors in order to reign in spending. Earlier last month Soule brought the $70,000 a year health benefits to a vote. Employee layoffs due to budget issues led Soule to put the proposal forward.  The City Council rejected the proposal in a 3-3 vote.  South Portland’s health benefits make councilors in the city some of the highest paid in Maine.

Despite all the hardships, James Soule insists he is not retiring out of frustration. Soule, however, had some choice parting words for Mayor Blake and City Manager Jim Gailey. Soule accused Mayor Blake of withholding Manager Gailey’s plans and actions from the city council. Soule also accused Manager Gailey of making “autocratic unilateral [decisions]”.  An inexperienced mayor and city manager can cause the divisive atmosphere of this year’s city council, according to Soule.

Three candidates are running for Soule’s District 3 seat.  Gary Crosby has run for South Portland’s City Council three times.  Crosby has led the effort to bring Willard Beach dog access to the ballot.  Rosemarie DeAngelis represented District 3 for three years until Soule defeated her in 2006.  DeAngelis is an active member of the Knightville Millcreek Neighborhood Association. Finally, Christopher Kessleris a member of the South Portland Dog Owners Group which advocates dog access at Willard Beach.

(Cross-posted at Augusta Insider)

an “oppressive regime” that withholds the communities’ rightful amount of state aid.

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