WATERVILLE — Citing what he called a lack of viable candidates for governor in the next election, Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro said Tuesday night that he is officially considering a run for Maine’s top spot.

“I have surveyed the field for governor and I find it to be an incredibly low-energy campaign thus far,” said Isgro, a Republican. “I had stepped aside before, waiting for a candidate that would step forward with a bold, exciting agenda that would put Maine citizens first in Augusta; and I haven’t seen anybody step forward yet, so I’ve been forced to reconsider.”

Isgro, 36, was elected mayor in 2014, inaugurated in January 2015, served a three-year term and was re-lected last November. He said he currently is discussing a possible run for governor with his family. Isgro and his wife, Amanda, have five children.

He announced his decision to consider running for governor on Tuesday to a Morning Sentinel reporter in the hallway outside the City Council chambers, just before a council meeting was to start at 7 p.m. If he does decide to run, he would follow in the footsteps of Gov. Paul LePage, who was a Republican city councilor and mayor in Waterville before running for governor.

Like LePage, Isgro also is a fiscal conservative.

“Looking at it now, it seems someone needs to step forward that’s going to excite the grass roots, because there’s nobody out there that’s doing that,” Isgro said Tuesday night.

Later in the evening, Isgro said, “In a field of Augusta elites, career lobbyists, and DC consultants, I’ve heard little-to-no mention of the serious issues that face Mainers, especially rural Maine, like battling the opioid epidemic as we are here in Waterville and seizing opportunities to restore Maine’s future like infrastructure and technology improvements. With the craftsmanship and ingenuity of the rural Maine worker combined with a pro growth agenda we have the pieces for an historic growth opportunity.”

The assistant vice president and controller of Skowhegan Savings Bank, Isgro scrutinizes city budgets and funding requests from city departments, often urging officials to work together to reach compromise.

In November, he defeated former Councilor Erik Thomas, a Democrat, and political newcomer John Levesque, an independent. Isgro received 1,737 votes to Thomas’ 1,496 and Levesque’s 258.

It was the third consecutive mayoral election in Waterville to feature a three-way race with a Republican, a Democrat and an independent, coming at a time of high-profile million-dollar developments in downtown while the city struggled with concerns over property tax increases, adequate school funding and its identity as a burgeoning cultural and business center.

A 2000 graduate of Messalonskee High School in Oakland, Isgro attended the University of Maine at Farmington, where he studied history. He also attended Thomas College in Waterville, where he studied accounting.

He has served as a commissioner for the Maine Commission for Community Service; is a board member and financial adviser at St. Theresa’s Church, in Oakland; and is a past board member and treasurer of the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers.

While running for a second term as mayor, Isgro said he wanted to continue the work he had done in his first term with various efforts including downtown revitalization and the city’s collaboration with Colby College on that project. He also cited work the city had done with Central Maine Growth Council, which Isgro called the most important economic development organization working on behalf of the city.

Isgro has worked on downtown revitalization since its inception, when Colby President David Greene held meetings with downtown businesses, arts organizations, city officials and others to determine what was needed to help improve downtown, draw more people to live and work there and help boost the economy.

A priority identified in those meetings was the need to address vacant and deteriorating buildings downtown. Colby is investing millions of dollars in the downtown and is building a student residential complex on Main Street that is expected to house 200 students and faculty and staff members involved in a special community service and civic engagement curriculum in August 2018. Colby also bought and renovated the former Hains building at 173 Main St. and renovated it. CGI Group occupies the top floors and Colby has offices on the second floor. Retail businesses will move into the ground floor of both that building and the dormitory across the street. Colby also plans to build a boutique hotel next year on the former Levine’s clothing store site downtown.

Isgro supported efforts to build an interchange for Interstate 95 at Trafton Road and has worked with Trafton Partners on efforts to grow a future manufacturing base on Trafton Road. He also supports efforts by the technology company, CGI Group, to develop jobs in downtown Waterville.

He has cited as priorities for the city infrastructure development and job growth to help provide more opportunity for people to live and work in Waterville, expanding the tax base so the city can continue to work on having a sustainable property tax rate and ensuring the city has a growing tax base so it can continue to provide quality services that residents expect.

Isgro has supported the Waterville Police Department’s Operation Hope program, which helps place people addicted to opioids in treatment centers.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

 

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