Municipal election results: incumbents prevail

Republican Mayor Nick Isgro was re-elected to another three-year term Tuesday Nov. 7, defeating challengers Erik Thomas, a Democrat and former city councilor, and newcomer John Levesque, an independent candidate. Isgro received 1,737 votes to Thomas’ 1,496 and Levesque’s 258. Elections were also held for several Board of Education positions and three City Councilors.

In a statement to the Morning Sentinel, Isgro reflected on the election process and considered the future of Waterville. “This was a campaign where I was largely outspent, and we had people from as far away as Portland coming in and going door-to-door to campaign against me,” Isgro said, “and I’m just so thrilled that the people of Waterville chose what we saw as the Waterville First campaign.”

Isgro was first elected mayor in 2014. He helped to introduce the downtown revitalization project to enhance economic development, expand the arts, and attract and strengthen local business. Isgro worked with Colby President David Greene, city officials, downtown business people and arts advocates to breathe life into the project. His continued focus will be on infrastructure development and job growth to help provide more opportunities for people to live and work in the City.

Isgro’s Democratic opponent Erik Thomas is a former Planning Board member who served on the City Council from 2011 to 2014, and was its chairman in 2013. During his campaign, he stated that he was running for mayor because he was concerned about city government over the past several years, and believes some local officials are more invested in gaining power by misleading constituents than they are in solving problems.

A second challenger, John Levesque, who works as an education coordinator and consultant for Professional Disability Associates and holds registered nurse and paramedicine diplomas, said to the Echo that one of his goals in this race was to “bring civility back to the process.” Levesque also commented on his loss in the election. “I would consider myself disappointed,” he said, “I’m not exactly sure if I will stay involved yet. But I do want to work on ideas. And if agencies and groups want to work on ideas with me, I will be interested in that.”

For Board of Education positions, three incumbent members faced challenges in the Tuesday election. In Ward 2, incumbent board member Susan Reisert, ’86, a pastor and  teacher, was challenged by newcomer Patrick Roy for her seat, which she has held since 2015. She won the election with 307 votes to Roy’s 135.

“I’ve lived in the ward since 1998 and my kids grew up here,” Reisert commented, “and it’s a fairly democratic area, which was helpful in getting re-elected. I did a lot more knocking on doors than I had in the past.”

Reisert hopes to focus on raising the student cost, lowering student-teacher ratios, and addressing issues common to economically disadvantaged and transient students. She credited her Colby education for her interest in some of these initiatives. “Being a first generation student…it made me feel like there were a lot of doors I could open if I wanted to. If a Colby student wants to be involved [in politics] they can be.”

In Ward 4, incumbent MaryAnne Bernier, a Democrat, won the election for a three-year term over newcomer Rebekah Kathryn Collins, who ran with no party affiliation. Bernier, an educator, had been a Board of Education member since 2003. Her platform emphasized supporting students in courses such as mathematics and social studies and helping students who aim to receive proficiency-based diplomas.

In Ward 5, incumbent Mary Ellen Fitzpatrick, a 62 year old Idenpendent, was defeated by Julian A. Payne, a Democrat, for a two-year term. Fitzpatrick left her job this may to fill in for Tiffany LaLiberty, who moved out of the ward and was thus forced to cede her job. Payne, 48, a retired, stay at home father, hopes to focus on bridging the gap between high school and college for Waterville students.

Municipal elections also filled three open positions on City Council. Waterville has a Council-Manager government system, meaning that the City Manager is the chief executive officer of the City and both answers to and reports to the Council.

The Council, the governing board of Waterville, is made up of seven members. The Council’s duties and powers comprise many  of the procedures necessary to govern the City of Waterville, including adopting the annual budget of the City and appropriating money for City purposes. In wards 2, 4, and 6, Nathaniel J. White, Sydney R. Mayhew, and Winifred L. Tate were both  elected for three-year terms.

Mayhew, who ran a successful re-election campaign, spoke to the Echo of the successful relationship between Colby and Waterville, and his aspirations for the future.

“ I am thrilled to be a part of the close partnership that has been conclusively brokered between the City and Colby,” he said, “Our economic revitalization in reality would be not possible without this productive relationship that mutually benefits each other long term. Through increased economic activity we can fend off a rising tax mill rate and encourage families to live here.”