HALLOWELL — An outspoken city councilor could be ousted in one of two contested races on the municipal ballot this November.

In that race, Councilor at-large Alan Stearns, who has often been an opposition voice on Hallowell’s council, is being challenged by Christopher Walters, a filmmaker and former real estate developer who says he’s “not here to solve problems,” but to promote the city.

For an open seat in Hallowell’s northern Ward 1, two candidates can both tout experience in city issues: Kate Dufour, a lobbyist for the Maine Municipal Association, an advocacy group for cities and towns, faces Larry Morrissette, a retired teacher and musician who led a recent challenge of a Hallowell Water District rate increase.

Two councilors, Phillip Lindley and Lisa Harvey-McPherson, are running unopposed for their seats, respectively, in Hallowell’s central Ward 3 and Ward 5 on the west side of the Maine Turnpike.

Nobody declared to run for a Hallowell seat on the Regional School Unit 2 board now held by Shawna Corbett, who didn’t file papers to get on the ballot for re-election by the Tuesday deadline.

As chairman of the council’s Highway Committee, Stearns, in his first council term, has been leading Hallowell through the process of securing the eventual reconstruction of the steeply crowned Water Street, a state and city project that was finally approved last month, but won’t happen for years.


But Stearns, 47, of Page Street, executive director of the Royal River Conservation Trust in Yarmouth, also has clashed with some in city government, with former Mayor Charlotte Warren calling Stearns one of her “haters” last year in a clash over school fundraising. He said the city needs skeptical voices like his.

“I think that teamwork requires tough questions,” he said. “And it’s not always easy to ask tough questions, but if we are to just rubber-stamp proposals, that serves no one.”

Walters, 37, of Middle Street, said Stearns is knowledgeable on city issues, but Walters sees his potential role differently — as an energetic promoter of the city’s nightlife and other unique factors aimed at “making Hallowell be the not just cultural hub of central Maine, but the coolest spot in Maine, period.”

The Kennebec Journal has profiled Walters on his recent film work, which he left the real estate business to pursue. He said he’s committed to making his movies locally, telling an anecdote about going to Hollywood to recruit a Los Angeles actress who ended up in one of his projects.

“I sold her on central Maine and Hallowell as much as the stuff it is I’m doing,” he said.

Dufour, 43, of Lincoln Street, is running for the council spot now held by Robert Stubbs alongside Morrissette. Dufour touted her years of experience on local government issues, saying her priority would be to ensure that assets treasured by all groups of people in Hallowell are invested in, from parks to roads and the city’s downtown.


“I guess I come at it from a nerdy perspective,” Dufour said. “I love local government.”

Morrissette, 63, of Page Street, said he has long valued public service and open government. In the water district case, which was settled last week, he gathered signatures to force a state review of a proposed increase and won a number of concessions that will make the district more transparent going forward.

“That’s the kind of collaboration we need to develop and encourage,” he said.

Candidates were mostly quiet when asked about the case of Police Chief Eric Nason, who was investigated last year by the Maine State Police after a female officer accused him of sexually assaulting her. No charges were filed following the investigation.

After that case became public, a second woman claimed that Nason took a pornographic picture of her as she slept in the late 1990s. Councilors are set to discuss a private investigator’s report in that case at a Monday meeting.

Stearns said he thinks the city is missing a strong voice saying that sexual crimes won’t be tolerated in Hallowell, and “my voice will be to make sure that Hallowell is a safe community for anybody that needs to dial 911.”


“If the police chief cannot find his voice as a champion for safe streets, then we have a problem,” Stearns said.

However, Walters said his dealings with the city’s police department as a developer have been positive, and Nason’s issues haven’t been a subject people have been concerned with after they learned of his council run.

“I absolutely will not take a position on a situation where I do not know the laws around the circumstances, and I think it’s irresponsible to do otherwise,” he said.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. 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.