AUGUSTA — Two veterans of city politics will square off in what could be a heated race for mayor in November.

Current At-Large Councilor David Rollins and former Mayor and City Councilor William E. Dowling both filed papers to run for mayor by Friday’s deadline.

The winner will serve out the remaining year of former Mayor William Stokes’ term. Stokes resigned as mayor in June when he was appointed as a state superior court justice.

Rollins, 59, has been on the council since 2007 and is serving his third term. He also served as interim mayor for a few months in 2011 when Roger Katz was elected to the Maine Senate and vacated the mayor’s seat.

Dowling, 66, was mayor in Augusta from 1999 to 2006 and a city councilor in Ward 2 from 1995 to 1998.

Rollins, a real estate appraiser, said as a native son of Augusta, he has passion for the city and wants to build on positive momentum including the recent campaign and referendum vote to expand and renovate Lithgow Public Library, and the construction of new infrastructure in the city such as the YMCA. Though he didn’t mention Dowling by name, he did suggest city government is better off now than it was a decade ago, when Dowling was mayor.

“I’m running for mayor because I think we need a plan for the future, and not a return to the past,” Rollins said Friday. “I want to continue to build on the spirit and pride I’ve helped bring to the city and continue the momentum and progress we showed with the let’s save Lithgow campaign. We need job creation, more educational opportunities and to protect the quality of life in Augusta. I don’t believe voters will want to return to the confrontation and discontent of a decade ago. I’m a unifier, not a divider.”

Dowling, director of development for Dirigo Capital Advisors, a Hallowell-based firm that developed and owns multiple major commercial properties in Augusta, said he has a proven track record as mayor and the city accomplished a lot during his tenure.

“I think I have a pretty good proven track record that shows I really care about the city,” Dowling said. “I got a lot accomplished as mayor, before. I led the charge for the new high school, for the (Cushnoc Crossing) Bridge, and we built a parking garage downtown. I was elected (mayor) three different times. So I don’t know where the discontent is, at least not with the voters. I plan to run a clean, honest campaign. And if (Rollins) chooses otherwise, that’s his call.”

Rollins said job creation is an important issue facing Augusta, and he’d work to both attract new businesses to the city while also finding ways to help existing businesses expand. He said developing the city-owned riverfront property that used to house the Statler mill should be a focus for the city. But he said economic development in the city should follow the comprehensive plan strictly, to protect the quality of life in Augusta.

Dowling said he would work to encourage growth to add to the tax base so the city would not have to continue increasing taxes. He said there is a population of older residents in Augusta who cannot afford to pay higher taxes. He said the city needs to find commercial or residential growth, to add to the tax base and thus spread the costs of running the city among more taxpayers.

A third potential candidate, J.J. Bloomquist, took out nomination papers for mayor but did not file those papers with the city by Friday’s deadline, according to City Clerk Barbara Wardwell.

Mayoral candidates must submit the signatures of at least 200 registered voters to have their names placed on the ballot. While not all the signatures submitted by Dowling and Rollins had not been verified at the deadline Friday, Wardwell said both candidates submitted many more signatures than the minimum of 200.

Ward 4 Councilor Mark O’Brien was selected by his fellow councilors last month to serve as interim mayor until the elections in November.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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