An East Winthrop man has been named the new head of the Maine Municipal Association, the group announced Friday.

Stephen W. Gove, who has worked at MMA since 1980, replaces Christopher G. Lockwood, of Hallowell, who retired in August after leading the organization for 36 years.

Gove has been deputy executive director and director of the Maine Municipal Employees Health Trust insurance division since 2005. He is a graduate of the University of Maine, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in political science; and he holds a master of science degree from the Boston University College of Communication.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Gove said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to forging new relationships with our members and to exploring new opportunities for the association.”

The organization represents 486 of the state’s 491 municipalities before the Legislature and in Washington, D.C. It provides insurance services, training and communication, legal advice and help with labor negotiations and personnel issues.

Stephan Bunker, of Farmington, president of MMA’s executive committee, said the committee expects Gove to be innovative in his new position.

“The Executive Committee wants to make it clear, and has to Steve, that we want MMA to continue to grow, improve and innovate,” Bunker said in the news release. “This is no time for municipal government to stand pat.”

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