AUGUSTA — The already contested race for Augusta’s next mayor just got a little more contested.

Ward 1 City Councilor Michael Byron has declared himself a write-in candidate in the three-person race.

Byron, a councilor for the last nine years who cannot seek re-election to his council seat because of the city’s term limits, filed a declaration of write-in candidacy with City Clerk Barbara Wardwell Wednesday.

The city charter requires write-in candidates to declare their candidacy in order for votes for them to count.

The mayor’s race was already contested, with At-Large Councilor David Rollins facing off against former mayor and councilor William E. Dowling. Both of those candidates filed nomination papers signed by at least 200 registered voters by the deadline earlier this month.

Byron acknowledges running for mayor as a write-in candidate is a long shot.

He said, “My chances, right now, are probably no better than 50-50. My job, over the next 40 or so days, is to try to get the word out.”

“It’s his prerogative to run,” Dowling said of Byron. “Being a write-in is a difficult way to become mayor.”

Rollins declined to comment on Byron joining the race.

In an email announcing his write-in candidacy and an interview Thursday, Byron suggested Rollins and Dowling don’t have the financial background needed to be an effective mayor, but he does.

“They’re good fellows, but I think the next mayor needs to be more than just a cheerleader,” Byron said. “And Bill (Dowling), he’s an expert commercial developer. Which is a good skill set. But I think the mayor needs more than that. An experienced financial manager. I think my experience with municipal budgeting is going to come, as mayor, as a very useful skill set to guide the city through the budget process.”

Both Rollins and Dowling said they each have extensive financial, business and budgeting experience.

“Although Mr. Byron likes to point out his time as a financial lender, I was and am an entrepreneur that knows the risks of putting one’s own capital on the line to start a business,” said Rollins, who has a real estate appraisal business. “I am more than willing and able to assist in the expansion of existing business in Augusta, to help create new businesses in Augusta and to work with the council and city management in creating and managing our budgets.”

Dowling, director of development for Dirigo Capital Advisors, a Hallowell-based firm that developed and owns multiple major commercial properties in Augusta, said he spent 20 years in state government dealing with budgets and 12 years dealing with city budgets, giving him extensive experience in government finance.

Byron, 77, has been on the city council for nine years and, before moving to Augusta, was chairman of the Manchester Planning Board for five years and a Manchester selectman for six years.

He was town manager in Litchfield from 2008 to 2013, but was fired by selectmen from that post for what Byron characterized as “very minor things.” Although town officials did not specify a reason, Byron said it was because they felt he didn’t move fast enough on two roof repair jobs, hadn’t finished redrafting the personnel policy and had not yet evaluated front office staff.

Byron previously was a commercial lender in New York City.

He said that aside from the fact his financial expertise could help the city, he also wants to continue working on social issues, making sure people who are homeless, mentally ill, veterans or others in need of services are taken care of.

Byron said he is running as a write-in candidate because he doesn’t have the funding to run a full campaign. He said a well-run mayoral campaign in Augusta could cost between $10,000 and $20,000.

The deadline for write-in candidates to file with the city is Monday.

The winner of the mayor’s race will serve out the remaining year of former Mayor William Stokes’ term and would be sworn into office in November. Stokes resigned as mayor in June when he was appointed a state superior court justice.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj