WATERVILLE — City Councilor Dana Bushee, D-Ward 6, has given up her seat, saying she plans to refocus her energy to her daughters, her health and her career as a Jobs for Maine’s Graduates specialist at Waterville Senior High School.

In a letter to City Manager Michael Roy, Mayor Nick Isgro and councilors, Bushee said her resignation took effect Wednesday, a day after councilors held their organizational meeting for the new year and at which councilor Steve Soule, D-Ward 1, was appointed council chairman.

“After many months of soul searching … I have decided to step off the City Council,” Bushee wrote in her resignation letter. “My love of Waterville has never been stronger than it is today. I will continue to use my positive energy to move Waterville forward as a board member of Waterville Creates! and as a community organizer.”

Bushee originally was appointed to an open council seat in December 2013, and then she was elected to a three-year term the following year.

Bushee’s open seat — with a term that expires this November — will be filled by council appointment, Roy said Wednesday.

“It’s the council’s job to appoint a new person,” he said. “I assume, as we’ve done in the past, we will ask for interested applicants and then conduct interviews and a make a decision from there.”

Bushee told councilors at a Dec. 20 meeting that she planned to resign before her term was up, because of family obligations. At that meeting, she noted news coverage of a Dec. 6 meeting at which some councilors questioned whether the city should sell an apartment building on Grove Street to Brown House Properties, citing concerns about the building’s foundation and code problems.

Discussion of that housing issue highlighted tension between councilors and Isgro. The mayor said he took “offense to labeling Brown House as a slumlord” and added, “We are not going to sit here and cherry-pick who we are going to sell it to.” When Bushee started to interject in the discussion, Isgro shut her off, slamming the gavel hard down on the table. “So you can talk, but I can’t?” Bushee said.

Controversy involving Bushee arose at an earlier council meeting when resident Julian Payne said he believed it was a conflict of interest for councilors whose spouses or significant others work for the city or schools to vote on matters involving city funding. He was referring, in part, to Bushee, whose significant other was Parks and Recreation Director Matt Skehan.

Payne urged city officials to form a panel to address conflict issues, but the city already has an ethics committee that is working to update its policy.

Bushee’s resignation letter says she moved to Waterville in 2007 and formed a parenting group that raised money for various causes.

“I lobbied for safer environmental laws for children’s products, helped write the tobacco ordinance for North Street Recreation Area, and served as a member of the Waterville Planning Board,” Bushee wrote in her letter. “When I ran for the state senate seat in 2012, I campaigned on an educational platform because as a former teacher, I knew that supported schools equates a vibrant and healthy community.”

She wrote that she feels privileged to work as a Jobs for Maine’s Graduates specialist at the high school and looks “forward to inspiring my students as they pursue a meaningful path to adulthood.”

In the letter, she also thanked her constituents.

Bushee attended her final council meeting Tuesday but did not mention she would resign the next day. At the meeting, she made a motion to nominate Soule for council chairman. Her motion was seconded by new Councilor Lauren Lessing, D-Ward 3, and the council voted 6-0 to approve Soule’s nomination. Soule did not vote on his nomination.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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