HALLOWELL — Mayor Mark Walker reflected on Hallowell’s growth over the last 10 years at Thursday’s inauguration ceremony — before announcing that he will not run for reelection in 2021.

After announcing that he will not run for reelection, Walker said after what would be seven years as mayor and an additional five as a city councilor, the city “needs new blood.”

“I really think it is important to have a fresh look and a fresh voice,” he said after the meeting. “I feel, at times, I’ve been stale and I don’t want to do that.”

The Bangor Daily News reported last week that Mark Walker was considering a run for state Senate, a seat held by Shenna Bellows, D-Manchester. When asked after the meeting if he had any plans for future political ventures, he said any plans were “not cemented” but said he could join the city’s Board of Trade because his law firm is located downtown.

Hallowell Mayor Mark Walker at the groundbreaking ceremony in September 2017 for the new Hallowell Fire Station at Stevens Commons.

The city’s mayor since 2014, Walker succeeded now-state Rep. Charlotte Warren, who served the previous portion of the decade. During his address, Walker said that his first set of priorities as mayor involved “investing in the city’s infrastructure.” He highlighted the reconstruction of Water Street, an issue that he said spanned “several decades,” improvements in Stevens Commons and the construction of a new fire station as strides in the city’s infrastructure in the last decade.

Walker also mentioned the city’s Comprehensive Plan Committee, which has begun work to inform a new comprehensive plan that will outline development in the city through 2030. He said it was important to bring in new businesses and show off the city for its unique arts, history and culture.

“Where else does a city of 2,500 have a city theater, a wonderful art gallery, artists and potters in residence and serve as the live music center for central Maine?” Walker said. “I’ve said many times, Hallowell has a vibe that brings residents and guests here unlike other cities north of Portland.”

Unlike Portland, Walker said he hoped the future held more affordable housing and a widened tax base. He said that, as the city has grown, he has seen apartments balloon in price from $800 a month to $1,300 a month.

“We cannot price out of our downtown our musicians and artists, galleries and music venues, and our eclectic downtown tenants who support all of the above,” he said. “I firmly believe that basing part of our city’s economic growth on attracting and supporting the arts will work.”

Walker also said the council should try to “solidify long-term financial stability” of the Hubbard Free Library and expressed the importance of making an informed decision about the future of the Second Street Fire Station.

Sworn into office Thursday at the Hallowell City Auditorium were newcomer Diana Scully as Ward 3 city councilor and incumbent Councilor-at-Large George Lapointe.

In November, Scully, executive director of the Maine Justice Foundation, earned 160 votes in an unopposed race for the Ward 3 City Council seat. Lapointe, who defeated Matthew Radasch in November, has been on the City Council since 2015.

Lapointe was unanimously reelected as City Council president, and would preside over meetings if the mayor were unable to attend.

Scully said after the meeting that she was excited about the new comprehensive plan and working with the council, which she described as “very congenial.”

“I was impressed — when I looked at the plan we did 10 years ago — how far we come,” she said. “I look forward to whatever work comes forward with my committee assignments.”

The City Council meets next at its annual retreat at 8 a.m. Saturday at Maple Hill Farm. The next regular City Council meeting will be Jan. 13.


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