WATERVILLE — A bank controller and Republican who has been an outspoken opponent of the city’s new pay-as-you-throw trash collection program says he plans to run for mayor in the November election.

If elected, Nick Isgro, 32, of Western Avenue, would replace Mayor Karen Heck, who says she will not seek re-election.

Isgro said Tuesday he does not like everything that has been going on in city government the last few years and that, instead of complaining about it, he decided to take action and run for office.

“When I first started speaking to people locally, one of the things that struck me was how few people in either party are really willing to get involved,” said Isgro, who is a controller at Skowhegan Savings Bank.

Waterville, he said, is a great city that needs more homeowners and businesses to help shore up the tax base, less spending on projects that aren’t always necessary, and a focus on what the residents want.

“These are the people that make the city tick,” he said. “These are the people who pay for this stuff.”

Heck, who met Isgro for coffee Tuesday morning, said she thinks it is great that he is willing to step up and get involved.

“I was impressed that he came to all of the recycling meetings and pay-as-you-throw discussions and was very able to have a discussion that didn’t turn into personal attacks,” she said. “And while we are on different sides of the issues, I think that that kind of approach is critical for us moving ahead as a city, a state and a nation and it’s something that I think is lacking in a number of people’s approaches.”

Isgro is the only person who, so far, has said publicly that he definitely will seek the mayor’s spot.

The treasurer of the Maine Children’s Home, Isgro said he lives on Western Avenue in the home his grandfather built. He graduated from Messalonskee High School in 2000; attended University of Maine at Farmington, where he studied history; and now attends Thomas College, seeking a degree in accounting.

He said a lot of people tell him they live in Fairfield and other area towns instead of Waterville because of the city’s tax rate; and while those towns do not provide all the services Waterville does, change is needed.

“There’s got to be a balance,” he said.

Isgro said he would use the mayor’s position to help ensure residents’ voices are heard. He said he senses an air of smugness among some councilors when he attends council meetings.

“The one thing the mayor has is a powerful voice, so you need to be a champion of the city; but you also need to be a champion of the people as well,” he said.

City Councilor Erik Thomas, D-Ward 4, who had been seen by many as a possible candidate, called the chances of his running for mayor slim.

“I honestly think my position on the council is more important because I actually have a vote,” Thomas said Tuesday. “The mayor is really a spokesperson for the city. A lot of the general public do not fully understand this, but they (mayors) don’t really set policy. The only real power of the mayor is veto, which can always be overridden by the council.”

Thomas said he plans to run for re-election to his council seat. He has been a councilor three years and was chairman for a year.

Former Mayor Dana Sennett, a Democrat who represented Ward 4 on the council for 15 years and served several years as chairman, said multiple people have contacted him to ask him if he is going to run for mayor, but he has not decided. In May, Sennett retired as an advertising sales representative for the Morning Sentinel.

“I attended several gatherings this weekend and that was the opening conversation — ‘Are you going to run for mayor?'” Sennett, 62, said Tuesday.

Heck, who has six months left to serve of her three-year term, said Tuesday that when she took office, her goal was to articulate a vision and get it moving. That vision included encouraging and motivating people, particularly young people, to get involved in city politics and activities, helping to develop the city’s airport, and working on economic development.

“I believe that by the time I leave in December, all of those things I have worked to do will be in process,” she said. “I think Waterville is an amazingly well kept secret. The hospitals have been engaged in helping us create a marketing strategy, and we’ll be engaged in helping implement that strategy. We’ve gotten Thomas College engaged for the first time. They came to the table, and I invited presidents of the colleges and hospitals to say what they’d like to do for Waterville.”

Caucuses to nominate candidates for mayor, city councilor, Board of Education, Kennebec Water District and city wardens and clerks must be held by Aug. 5, not less than 90 days before the Nov. 4, election, according to City Clerk Patti Dubois. She said she notified the chairmen of the Democratic City and Republican City committees of that deadline and the Democrats set their caucus for 6 p.m. Aug. 3 at Waterville Senior High School. She said she had not yet heard from the Republican Committee.

City Republican Chairman Neal Patterson said Tuesday that a date for the caucus will be set soon.

POSITIONS UP FOR GRABS

Besides Heck’s and Thomas’ seats, several other are to be filled in the election: City Council and Board of Education seats in wards 2 and 6 and a Board of Education seat in Ward 4, two citywide seats on the Kennebec Water District Board of Trustees, and warden and ward clerk positions in wards 2, 4, and 6, all for three years. Also, a one-year term as ward clerk in Ward 1, two-year warden and ward clerk positions in wards 3 and 5, and one-year positions as warden and ward clerk in Ward 7 are available.

Democrat Lionel “Lee” Cabana represents Ward 2 on the Board of Education but says he doesn’t plan to run for re-election. He has been on the board 17 years, serving 16 as chairman.

Cabana, 78, said he has been dealing with medical issues, goes to a lot of appointments and thinks he has served long enough on the board.

“Actually, they need someone who is a little more vital and alive,” he said. “It’s time for someone else to take the reins. Fresh blood usually produces new ideas, but I think things are working just fine for the school system. It’s been interesting and it’s been fun, and hopefully, I made some contribution.”

Board of Education member Maryanne Bernier, D-Ward 4, said Tuesday she plans to seek re-election. Board member Elizabeth Bickford, D-Ward 6, could not be reached Tuesday, but she said at a June school board meeting that she intends to run for her seat. City Councilor Dana Bushee, D-Ward 6, confirmed Tuesday that she plans to run for re-election. Councilor Edward Lachowicz, D-Ward 2, said he is waiting to see if any “interesting” candidates emerge at the Democratic caucus before deciding whether he will run.

Meanwhile, Jibryne Karter III said Tuesday he plans to run for election to the Ward 6 council seat as an unenrolled candidate. Karter, 29, works in information technology and Web design and hosting, and he runs Mid Maine Electronics & Web. Karter said he will run as an unenrolled candidate.

Pat Roy said he plans to run for the Ward 2 council seat and while he is a registered Republican, he will not seek nomination at the Republican caucus and instead will go through the petition process and run with no party affiliation next to his name on the ballot. Roy, who declined to give his age, is semi-retired after working at Scott Paper Co. 30 years and is a part-time night auditor for Comfort Inn.

Current ward clerks are Heather Merrow, Ward 6, and Shirleyann Ratajczak-Leaman, Ward 2; wardens are Roland Hallee, Ward 6, Roger Collins, Ward 2 and Jennifer Johnson, Ward 1. The remaining warden and ward clerk positions are vacant. Current Kennebec Water District Board trustees are Michael J. Roy, Joan Sanzenbacher, J. Michael Talbot and Jeff Earickson.

NOVEMBER BALLOT

Republicans and Democrats nominated at party caucuses for council and school board must submit petition signatures and formal declaration of candidacy letters to the city clerk’s office before 4:30 p.m. Sept. 4, according to Dubois. They must file at least 25 but not more than 50 valid signatures from residents who are registered voters in the ward in which they seek a position.

Mayoral candidates are required to submit at least 15 but not more than 25 signatures from each city ward, she said. A declaration letter must include a candidate’s name and address and note the position they seek, she said.

Petition papers are now available at Dubois’ office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. They also will be available at party caucuses, she said.

People who want to run for office but are not affiliated with a political party must obtain petition papers from the clerk’s office and return the required number of signatures by the 4:30 p.m. Sept. 4 deadline.

Those who are registered Republicans or Democrats and do not want to go through the caucus process but want to run for office may do so by obtaining the required number of signatures; however, they will not have an “R” or a “D” after their names on the ballot, according to Dubois.

Also on the November ballot will be a question asking whether voters will approve revisions to the City Charter as recommended by the most recent charter commission. Not enough voters cast ballots to approve the charter revisions last year, Dubois said. Approval required 1,634 votes, but only 1,549 were received, she said.

There are slightly more than 11,000 registered voters in the city, which in 2010 had 15,722 residents, according to the U.S. Census. Dubois said there are slightly fewer than 2,000 registered Republicans, about 4,500 registered Democrats, 4,207 unenrolled voters and more than 350 registered Green Party members in the city.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.