HALLOWELL — Kara Walker has never been elected to public office. Phillip Lindley has been a Hallowell city councilor for 15 years. Walker is challenging Lindley for his Ward 3 seat at a time when Hallowell is facing difficult decisions regarding major projects throughout the city.

Lindley, the executive director of the ConnectME Authority, said his experience is exactly what’s needed as Hallowell tackles the Stevens Commons redevelopment, the future of the city’s fire protection services and the upcoming Water Street reconstruction.

“These next two years are going to include the largest projects probably in Hallowell’s history, and I’ve had 10 years of experience with each of these issues,” Lindley said by telephone. “I’ve got 25 years dealing with state and local agencies and the public.”

Walker said Lindley, 66, has done a great job in his decade-plus on the council, but thinks it’s time for Hallowell to have a fresh perspective.

“I think turnover is good for the city council, and I really think I have some skills that I can bring,” Walker said recently at Buddy’s Diner on Water and Winthrop streets. “I love Hallowell and want to do more for the city.”

The two are competing for the Ward 3 seat, which has about 2,500 residents. The 7-member council has four seats up for election this year on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Kara Walker, who is not related to Hallowell mayor Mark Walker, is from western New York and played college basketball for the University of Massachusetts. She is the director of the Central Maine Regional Resource Center in Lewiston.

As part of her job, Walker works with agencies like hospitals, public safety departments and emergency management to plan for emergency situations. She is often building coalitions with competing agencies, a skill she thinks fits in nicely in Hallowell.

“My parents taught me to take care of the things that take care of you,” she said. “I’ve felt nothing but acceptance and love from the city, and I just want to give something back.”

She thinks that having a fresh set of eyes to look at the challenges Hallowell is facing is important, and she said she brings a new energy and unique perspective to help the city move forward.

The reconstruction of Water Street, which is scheduled to begin in 2018, is on the top of the list of priorities for both candidates. Walker, 40, said she looks at the project from the perspective of an emergency manager, and she wants to make sure everyone in Hallowell knows what a challenge it will be.

“It’s definitely going to be disruptive, but it’s necessary to fix the infrastructure now, rather than waiting years and years for when the utilities under the road aren’t working anymore,” she said. “The longer we wait, the worse it gets, and everyone needs to understand that.”

The project creates an opportunity for Hallowell to upgrade and make the city more family and elderly friendly, Walker said. “It’s a hot-button topic, and I love the people in Hallowell to get together and talk about things.”

As a councilor, Lindley has been front-and-center throughout the planning process with the Maine Department of Transportation. The city has been having meetings and reaching out the last three years, and Lindley has worked closely with Councilor Alan Stearns and the highway committee to put things together.

There could be three or four new councilors being sworn in in January. Councilor Sophie Gabrion was elected last year but resigned in August due to health issues. She was replaced by Michael Frett. Stearns and Kate Dufour are not seeking re-election, and former councilor Lynn Irish and former Code Enforcement Officer Maureen Aucoin are running unopposed to fill those two seats.

Lindley thinks the skills and knowledge and experience he has would continue to be a real benefit, especially with the expected turnover.

“I applaud Kara for wanting to be involved, and whatever happens this (election), I hope she continues to think it’s an important thing,” Lindley said. “Getting new people to participate in the city’s government is great.”

Despite having served on the council for 15 years, Lindley still plans on campaigning and “wandering the streets of Ward 3 talking to people to see what’s important to them.” He walks his dog through the ward and tries to speak to as many people as he can.

Walker hasn’t been in the public eye in Hallowell nearly as long as Lindley, though at 6-foot-2, she certainly is easy to spot if out walking in the neighborhood.

“The special skill I can add to the council is bringing people together and giving a different voice to the people in Ward 3,” Walker said. “It’s my neighborhood and my friends and all the people I interact with.”

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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