WATERVILLE — The upcoming race for city mayor is taking shape: Mayor Nick Isgro says he’ll run for re-election and former City Council member Karen Rancourt-Thomas says she wants to challenge him.

Isgro, 35, a Republican, announced in a Facebook post Friday morning he is running for re-election, saying he wants to see through important “renaissance” initiatives in Waterville that involve multimillion-dollar investments downtown.

He first ran for mayor in 2014 and won the three-person race with 2,470 votes. Democrat Stephen Aucoin had 2,047 votes in that race, while Rancourt-Thomas, who ran with no party affiliation, had 955.

In his re-election statement, Isgro said Waterville residents “started a movement” three years ago after his election.

“With everything going on, I feel … that I’ve made a commitment to the people of Waterville and to our partners,” Isgro said in a phone interview Friday. “I feel an obligation to stay on and see it through.”

Isgro is employed as a controller at Skowhegan Savings Bank and lives on Western Avenue. He’s also a treasurer of the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers.

He was preceded as mayor by independent Karen Heck, who also endorsed his first run, and by Republican Paul LePage, now Maine’s governor.

Meanwhile, Rancourt-Thomas, 53, said Friday she is planning to run for mayor as a Democrat “to bring together a city that is perceived as divided.”

She works for the Maine State Employees Association in Augusta, a union that represents about 12,000 government workers in Maine. She is president of the Franco-American Heritage Society and a member of the Fort Halifax committee in Winslow.

During Isgro’s tenure as mayor, Waterville has forged partnerships with Colby College and begun a revitalization of its downtown. With the help of the Central Maine Growth Council, the city also has attracted employers such as Collaborative Consulting, which plans eventually to bring about 200 jobs to the area.

“Over the past years, I’ve also made a commitment to our partners like Colby College and the business community that I’d be here to see us through this renaissance,” Isgro said in his statement. “I have been humbled that everywhere I go, both private citizens and our partners have personally asked me to keep on for another term to see this through.”

Continued development and progress is something Isgro says he plans to focus on.

“First and foremost is making sure that we could keep our development goals on track because, ultimately, that is how we’re going to harness the momentum to keep bringing in new jobs, which is what we need more than anything,” he said.

But the city also has been through difficult budget cycles in the past few years, particularly after a property revaluation dramatically increased some people’s taxes in 2016. Isgro vetoed the City Council’s initial budget that year, even though it decreased the tax rate by 24 cents, because residents had just received their revaluations and he thought they should “slam on the brakes.” He also vetoed the budget in 2015.

“I do believe this year we are working hard together … to work with all the councilors individually to put together, hopefully, a plan” to prevent the city from continuously “hitting these fiscal cliffs,” he said.

Isgro plans to seek the mayoral nomination officially Tuesday at the Waterville Republican Caucus, he said.

“Right now Waterville has an incredible amount of momentum,” he said. “It’s important that we have a positive spokesperson out in front of that and that we really do keep that ball running and keep that momentum moving forward.”

Rancourt-Thomas, who lives on Carey Lane, said she plans to seek her party’s nomination on Monday at the Democratic caucus.

She said the city has to work toward common goals, such as retaining residents, keeping property taxes down and allowing ordinary citizens to take part in public discussions. She also wants to collaborate with the School Department more efficiently by reaching out to them earlier in the year — not just during budget-drafting season.

People have become divisive, she said, pitting one group against another or a group against the City Council, and “it clearly is time to change these dynamics that have always been in our community.”

“We all need to come together to change this,” she said.

Rancourt-Thomas, who was a city councilor for seven years, said she plans to focus on property taxes if elected, which she thinks is the crux of many of the city’s problems, including the issue of civility.

“People do not want their property taxes raised,” she said.

“However, more than half of the city of Waterville is not taxed,” Rancourt-Thomas continued, referring to nonprofits and institutions such as Colby College and Thomas College, “so the burden falls on the residents.”

Waterville is seen as one of the highest-taxed cities in the state, she said, so it’s becoming a service city, but it needs to retain its residents as well.

Rancourt-Thomas wants to see the city’s initiatives with Colby College succeed, she said, but she doesn’t think “the input of the citizens was heard” during recent planning for downtown development projects.

“I think a lot of people weren’t happy about it,” she said. “It happened so quickly.”

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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