WATERVILLE — City Councilor Karen Rancourt-Thomas, D-Ward 7, surprised the council chambers Tuesday night by announcing she plans to run for mayor in the November election.

“Having been approached by numerous constituents of the different wards, I have decided to announce my candidacy for mayor,” Rancourt-Thomas said. “I truly believe that it’s important for the people of Waterville to have as many candidates as possible.”

Rancourt-Thomas, 50, will face Democrat Stephen Aucoin and Republican Nick Isgro in her run for mayor Nov. 4.

“The field should not be limited to the two candidates chosen at caucuses,” she said during the community notes section of the council meeting. “Different opinions and ideas only serve to add to the strength of democracy.”

Rancourt-Thomas is a Democrat, but her political party affiliation will not appear next to her name on the ballot, because a Democrat already is a candidate.

City Clerk Patti Dubois said after Tuesday’s meeting that Rancourt-Thomas must garner 15 to 25 signatures of residents from each of the city’s seven wards and turn the petition in at the city clerk’s office by 4:30 p.m. Sept. 4.

Rancourt-Thomas’ children, Nate, 19, and Ailie, 9, attended Tuesday’s meeting. Rancourt-Thomas also has another child, Cameron, 17.

Rancourt-Thomas, of Carey Lane in the city’s South End, has been a councilor six years and is a founding member of the South End Neighborhood Association. She also is president of the Franco-American Heritage Society of Kennebec Valley and is a member of the city’s facilities review committee and the parks and recreation committee.

“One of the reasons I’m running is, a lot of people feel they have no choice in the election — it was A or B,” Rancourt-Thomas said after the council meeting. “I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I just decided to do it. I think I have some good ideas. I don’t have all the solutions, but I do think we need to change the infrastructure of the city so people want to come and live here. Right now, we’re a city of apartment dwellers. We need to change that.”

Rancourt-Thomas, who often advocates for selling properties the city acquires for nonpayment of taxes to homeowners rather than out-of-state landlords, said she wants to see more owner-occupied homes in the city.

“I think that the people want to see that,” she said. “We want to see people live and work here.”

She said she also wants to encourage businesses such as Gap and Old Navy to open on Main Street downtown rather than at malls.

“Main Street’s beautiful,” she said. “I remember Sterns and Butler’s (clothing stores), and we’d walk down Main Street at Christmastime. There was an ambience. There still is ambiance.”

Born in Waterville, Rancourt-Thomas graduated from Waterville Senior High School in 1982 and attended Chaminade University in Honolulu, where she studied anthropology. She did not receive a degree from Chaminade but then attended the University of Maine, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in social services. She also has a master’s degree in education from Thomas College.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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