Hallowell will inaugurate two new members of its City Council when Sophie Gabrion and Diano Circo take the oath of office Monday night in the City Hall Auditorium.

Mayor Mark Walker and Councilor-at-Large George LaPointe, who both ran for re-election unopposed, also will be sworn in during the first official council meeting of the year.

Gabrion, Ward 2, and Circo, Ward 4, replace councilors Lynn Irish and Mark Sullivan, respectively.

Irish said being on the council has been “a good experience and I’m not ruling out doing something in the future.” She said the city has a number of crucial issues to tackle in the next few years, including the reconstruction of Water Street and the future of the city’s Fire Department.

“I believe making long-term decisions about the Fire Department is crucial,” Irish said. “Hallowell needs to decide what our fire department is going to look like in five, 10, 20 years before we put any money into a fire station. Whatever course the city takes, other than making no change, is going to cost money. This has been talked about for many years; it’s time we do something.”

Sullivan agrees and said the city faces some big challenges but has even bigger opportunities.

“While the Stevens School remains boarded up, assuring its safety and maintenance is a daunting task,” he said. “But I sincerely believe that the campus is the unpolished jewel in the heart of Hallowell. With careful stewardship, our city can realize extraordinary benefits for conservation, affordable housing, business and office space and other community priorities.”

Learning about and fully understanding these and other Hallowell issues will be among the challenges facing Gabrion as she begins her first term on the council. She said she is comfortable with “the folks in Hallowell” but admits there will be learning curve.

“You can feel comfortable, but comfort isn’t the same thing as understanding, and I have a lot to understand because I’m new,” Gabrion said. “Comfortwise, I have no worries. I am super-assertive, and speaking my mind has never posed to be challenging for me.”

Gabrion, who is the director of public education for the Maine branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said communication will be key as she begins representing residents and businesses in Hallowell’s Ward 2.

“I am big on understanding and asking questions first,” she said. “I have every confidence in my ability to learn what I need to as quickly as possible, especially considering all the big projects we have coming up.”

Circo could not be reached for comment.

After the swearing-in ceremony and Walker’s inaugural address, Walker and City Manager Stefan Pakulski will appoint community members to several committees. Walker said he expects to make more than 50 appointments during the meeting.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ


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