WATERVILLE — City Councilor Steve Soule, D-Ward 1, on Tuesday was elected chairman of the council in a 6-0 vote, and Gov. Paul LePage’s daughter, Lauren LePage, was appointed to the Planning Board.

Soule, 59, replaces John O’Donnell, D-Ward 5, as chairman. O’Donnell, also 59, served on the council 11 years and did not seek re-election. His seat now is occupied by Nick Champagne, a Republican and former Planning Board member who was elected in November.

Mayor Nick Isgro appointed Lauren LePage, 28, to the Planning Board and the council confirmed the appointment. She fills the vacancy on the board created when Champagne was elected to the council.

LePage is in her final year at University of Maine School of Law and works as executive director of Maine People Before Politics, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization that advocates for policies such as lowering Maine’s tax burden, lowering energy costs and encouraging job growth in the private sector.

Soule, who did not vote Tuesday on his own appointment, has served on the council one year. He has been director of the South End Teen Center for four years and before that was a teacher and principal at Clinton Elementary School for 33 years from 1979 to 2012.

Known for his calm demeanor and even temper, Soule represents the council on the city’s budget committee and helped negotiate the firefighters contract which was approved late last summer. He also is a member of Friends of Quarry Road.

“I’m excited to think that we can play an integral role in helping make Waterville even better in 2017 by listening to people who come to meetings and remembering there are thousands of other people that do not come that we need to listen to,” Soule said Tuesday.

He said he has enjoyed his time serving on the council and looks forward to continuing.

“I like to listen to people,” he said. “I like to try to learn from different viewpoints, but then I think you have to make decisions based on the facts.”

Councilor Dana Bushee, D-Ward 6, made a motion to elect Soule chairman. New councilor Lauren Lessing, D-Ward 3, seconded the motion. Lessing was elected in November, replacing longtime councilor Rosemary Winslow.

Lauren LePage said earlier Tuesday that she and her husband bought a house in Waterville a couple of years ago and are concerned about the city’s high taxes and shrinking tax base.

“Mayor Isgro reached out to me to ask me about my willingness to serve on the Planning Board and I jumped at the opportunity,” she said. “My goals as a member of the Planning Board are to work with individuals who want to invest in our city and to support growth proposals that will attract new businesses and support our existing business community. I look forward to hearing from residents about the bright future that Waterville has and am honored to serve.”

The council on Tuesday also confirmed the reappointment of Jessica Laliberte to the Planning Board; the appointments of Phil Bofia, Michael Williams Sr. and Brad Fisher to the Airport Advisory Committee; Zachary Bickford and Isaac Laws to the Board of Assessment Review; Zachary Bickford, Stephen Crate and Joe Ferris to the Board of Zoning Appeals; Stephen Crate, Joe Ferris and Daniel Veilleux to the Ethics Committee; Margaret “Peggy” Soucy and Patricia Loisel to the Haines Charity Relief Committee; Joe Ferris to the Kennebec Regional Development Authority; Paul Jacques and Michael Williams Sr. to the Kennebec Sanitary Treatment District board of trustees; Daniel Beaulieu, Eddy “Sunny” Brown and Stephen Crate to the Waterville Public Library board of trustees; and Richard Giguere as Waterville Sewerage District commissioner.

In other matters Tuesday, councilors voted 7-0 to approve a 6-month moratorium on recreational marijuana retail establishments, stores or clubs to give the council time to study the issue and decide if such facilities should be allowed in the city and if so, where they should be located.

The council must take one more vote on the moratorium before it goes into effect.

City Manager Michael Roy said the proposed moratorium ordinance is modeled after a Maine Municipal Association ordinance, though the city trimmed that ordinance down a bit for Waterville.

He reminded the council that the city already has an ordinance in place that restricts marijuana facilities in the downtown area and that would not change as a result of the moratorium. The council could vote in the future to renew the 6-month moratorium as long as it shows the city is making a good faith effort to study the issue, according to Roy and City Solicitor Bill Lee.

Roy asked Lee if the moratorium would affect provisions for medical marijuana.

“No — the two statutes exist independent of each other,” Lee said.

Lee said the council could decide to prohibit recreational marijuana retail establishments, smoking rooms and such facilities throughout the entire city.

“That would not affect medical marijuana, however,” he said.

Soule noted that by approving the moratorium, councilors were not taking a stand on marijuana — they were just delaying the issue in order to study it.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

 

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