HALLOWELL — Mayor Mark Walker said that with so many projects underway or upcoming, it’s important there be continuity within city government.

Walker was the only person to qualify for the ballot in November’s mayoral election, so absent a write-in candidate scoring a major upset, he’ll be re-elected to his third term in office. Walker also said it would be his final term.

He was unopposed in both of his previous victories, but he thought someone might have challenged him this time to bring a new face into city government.

He wants to be there to see several large projects in the city be completed, including the construction of a fire station, continued redevelopment at Stevens Commons and the Water Street reconstruction project.

“We’re getting close to the end on those three things, and I feel obligated and a desire to see them through,” Walker said during an interview in his Water Street office. “They are major things that will change the foundation of the city.”

When Walker gave his inaugural address in January 2016, one of his big goals was to invest in and improve the city’s infrastructure. It wasn’t a flashy campaign issue, he said, but it was something the city needed to address.

In April, voters approved a $2.36 million bond package that Walker was a strong and vocal proponent of, and those funds are being used to improve roads at Stevens Commons and in rural Hallowell, improve downtown parking and restore and rehabilitate other city-owned properties.

The bond package was controversial, and he told the council at a retreat in December that decisions related to the bond issue or the future of the Fire Department weren’t going to make everyone in Hallowell happy.

“At some point, though, you have to make a fact-based decision that you hope will please as many people as possible,” Walker said. “I know that a lot of issues have come together at the same time.”

Walker, an attorney and lobbyist for more than 30 years, said he has enjoyed serving the city and seeing government function from the other side. He joked that now he has citizens lobbying him, and he said it can be stressful because of the importance of so many decisions he and the council make.

The mayor said his legal background has been an advantage as he’d had to navigate ordinances, city policy and regulations, contracts and other negotiations, and financial problems. Hallowell resident and Augusta solicitor Stephen Langsdorf called Walker a diplomatic, strong and passionate leader.

“I like to talk to people and I like to get other people’s input,” Walker said.

One criticism some have of Walker, he said, is that he’ll take too long listening to everyone’s opinions rather than just making a decision, and he can appear indecisive. But Walker thinks everyone should have the opportunity to be heard.

“There are times when you need to continue to gather information and make sure the process is fair for all, but I know sometimes it appears to take a long time,” he said.

Walker is a registered Republican, and Geoff Haughton, owner of the Liberal Cup, said leading such a liberal city is proof that a moderate, bi-partisan approach to civic issues is an effective way to get things done.

“He is an ally of the downtown business district and realizes how vital a role Water Street plays in making Hallowell the place that it is,” Haughton said. “He’s one of the friendliest people I know.”

At-large Councilor George LaPointe, chairman of the finance committee, has worked with Walker for more than a decade and said the mayor wants Hallowell to be one of the best places to live and visit in Maine.

“Mark brings to the job a relentless dedication to our city, the desire to bring people into Hallowell governance, and engagement with all people, those who agree with him and those who do not,” LaPointe said.

While Walker has been the elected leader of Hallowell since 2014, there have been five city managers in the last two years, so there has been added responsibility for the mayor.

Michael Starn retired late in 2015 and was replaced by Stefan Pakulski, who died unexpectedly just a few months into his tenure. Walker served as city manager briefly before current councilor and former code enforcement officer Maureen Aucoin-Giroux became interim city manager. Nate Rudy was hired in June 2016.

“It seemed like my work balance was leaning toward the city, which I had not experienced before,” Walker said. “It’s getting back to an equal balance.”

Under an amended Hallowell charter approved by voters last year, the next mayor will serve three years instead of two. If Walker is elected, he’ll ultimately have led Hallowell for seven years after having spent many years before that on the council. He said he takes pride in all the city has achieved in the last few years, and he’s very happy with what’s been accomplished while he has been mayor.

Walker said several current councilors would be great mayors. He declined to name anyone specifically, but he said they have background, knowledge and experience that would help them succeed.

“There’s definitely some talent out there, and there are some I think would be excellent,” he said. “I’ll certainly let them know.”

Nomination papers were due Sept. 5 ahead of Election Day in November. Walker is the only candidate for mayor, and LaPointe is the only one running for his at-large seat. Councilors Michael Frett and Diano Circo are unopposed to represent Ward 2 and Ward 4, respectively, and Chris Myers-Asch is running unopposed for a seat on the Regional School Unit 2 board.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

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Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ