Kennebec Journal: In race for city’s top seat, the field has already begun to take shape

November 15, 2010

With job opening, who will run for Augusta mayor?

By Keith Edwards (Kennebec Journal)

AUGUSTA — At least two current city councilors are prepared to make a run for
mayor.

At-large Councilor William Stokes and Ward 4 Councilor Mark O’Brien both seek to fill the remainder of Mayor Roger Katz’s term when he steps down to serve in the state Senate.

Katz’s term ends in December 2012.

Others considering a run for the city’s top elected post, but who haven’t yet decided, include Ward 2 Councilor Darek Grant and Ward 3 Councilor Patrick Paradis.

Katz — elected to Senate District 24 on Nov. 2 — said he intends to resign as mayor before he takes his senate seat.

When the mayor’s seat becomes vacant through resignation or other means, the Augusta City Charter specifies “the vacancy shall be filled by an election called by the council as soon as practical.”

But until a new mayor is elected, the mayor’s post will be filled by a member of the City Council, elected by a majority of fellow councilors.

That means whoever is elected by his fellow councilors as interim mayor would effectively run as an incumbent to serve a full term.

Stokes, O’Brien, Grant and Paradis all said they are considering running for the full term as mayor.

Stokes was the first to announce his candidacy, in a news release in which he said, “I wish to provide uninterrupted leadership for the people of Augusta when Roger Katz departs for the state capitol.”

Stokes is currently serving his first term on the council, though he was recently elected to a second term in an uncontested race. He is a deputy attorney general and previously served on the Board of Education. He and his family live on Fairview Avenue.

O’Brien confirmed Friday that he too will run for mayor.

“I do intend to run,” he said. “I’m throwing my hat into the ring and we’ll see what happens.”

O’Brien has served multiple terms on the City Council and previously served
as a member and chairman of the Board of Education. He works for the U.S. Small
Business Administration and lives with his family on Myrtle Street.

Paradis said he’s been asked to run for mayor by local residents, but has yet to decide whether he will.

“I’m still considering it,” Paradis said, noting he expects to decide by the end of the month.

Grant also said he has been asked by residents to consider running.

“I’m undecided,” Grant said. “I would certainly have some big shoes to fill.”

Former Mayor William Dowling also said he has had a lot of people ask him to run. However, he said he is so busy with work, he is probably not interested. But he’s not ruling out a run for mayor entirely.

“I’m leaving that door open a crack,” he said.

Councilors David Rollins, Edward Coffin and Michael Byron all said they will not run for Katz’s remaining term. Councilor Cecil Munson could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

Former veteran Board of Education member Suzanne Allarie-Dowling said she considered running but has decided against it.

Former City Councilor Mary Mayo-Wescott also said she will not run for mayor.

City Manager William Bridgeo, referring to the charter provision an election be called “as soon as practical,” said it is up to council to determine what date would be fitting.

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