WATERVILLE — Democrats in Waterville nominated former City Councilor Jay Coelho on Wednesday night as their candidate for mayor.

Chosen at his party’s caucus, Coelho will oppose the Republican nominee, who will be chosen Monday evening, and any independents who run in November for the city’s top elected position.

Coelho, owner of the Waterville-based computer repair business You Broke IT, served for a year as a councilor representing Ward 5, before losing his seat in November to Rick Foss, a Republican.

More than 50 Democrats attended the caucus, held on the Zoom videoconferencing platform because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and unanimously chose Coelho.

“As a former city councilor, I’m excited to see some projects through,” Coelho said Thursday in a telephone interview. “I think it’s time to take the city in a positive direction that’s inclusive of every person that lives in this town, no matter what.”

As mayor, Coelho said he would seek to help senior citizens by lowering property taxes and improve the relationship between the Police Department and the community.

Jay Coelho

“Over the coming months, we will discuss ways to lower the tax rate for senior citizens,” Coelho wrote in a post to his campaign’s Facebook page, referring to them as “the same citizens that helped to build Waterville into the community we are today, therefore keeping them in their homes longer.”

Coelho said he also seeks to have more community policing, “where our Police Department is building relationships with citizens through outreach and feet on the ground.”

During Coelho’s stint on the council, he pushed for the city to authorize the purchase of two used ambulances for the Fire Department to use to transport patients either as a backup to or instead of Delta Ambulance.

Coelho was part of the Fire Department Study Committee.

In October, Mayor Nick Isgro vetoed the vote to authorize the purchase of the ambulances for $131,000, but soon after the council overrode that decision.

Coelho also butted heads with Isgro after Coelho was accused of conspiring with a resident at a City Council meeting regarding the mayor’s stance on Columbus Day.

Isgro had issued a proclamation that declared Oct. 14 would remain Columbus Day after Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill months earlier that changed the holiday to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

At a council meeting, Oct. 18, Waterville resident Bob Vear told Isgro he was “disrespectful” and accused him of mocking indigenous people on his Twitter page.

An argument ensued between Vear and Isgro. The mayor then adjourned the meeting prematurely and walked out. The other councilors in attendance remained and listened to the rest of Vear’s statement.

Isgro then accused Coelho of having seen Vear’s speech before the meeting and plotting a preconceived “attack.” Coelho has vehemently denied ever seeing Vear’s speech ahead of the meeting or plotting against the mayor.

Coelho’s goal in running for mayor is to “bridge the gap.”

“I want to bridge the gap between the citizens and the schools. I want to bridge the gap between the nonprofits and the citizens,” Coelho said. “There’s a lot of work to be done, but everyone who is invested in this town is always showing up at the table.

“There are a lot of solutions that we can come up with that can help solve all of that and really create something positive over the next few years. We do a lot of good things in Waterville, and we should be displaying those things, not partisan nonsense.”

Eleven other Democrats were nominated to run for municipal office in the upcoming election.

In Ward 2, Democrats chose incumbent Flavia Oliveira as their candidate for a three-year term on the City Council.

Last November, Oliveira defeated Phil Bofia, a Republican, and John D. Robertson, who ran with no party affiliation.

In Ward 4, Rebecca Green was nominated to run for the three-year seat currently held by Republican Councilor Sydney Mayhew.

Incumbent Claude Francke of Ward 6 was chosen to run for that seat in the night’s only contested nomination. Frank defeated newcomer Michael Mosley in a 5-3 vote.

Thom Klepach will run for a two-year term in Ward 3 to replace former Councilor Margaret Smith, who announced her resignation July 22. Smith served on the council since 2018, resigning to focus on work and raising her three children.

Incumbent school board members Greg Bazakas of Ward 2 and Maryanne Bernier of Ward 4 were chosen by city Democrats to run for three-year terms.

Bazakas was appointed to the board last January and defeated Republican Shaun Caron in November.

Incumbent school board member Elizabeth Bickford of Ward 6 was absent from Wednesday’s caucus and has yet to formally accept the nomination.

Incumbent school board member Patricia Helm of Ward 1 is running for a one-year term and incumbent Spencer Krigbaum of Ward 5 for a two-year term.

Krigbaum was appointed unanimously to the board in June after former board member Julian Payne resigned.

Democrats nominated Denise Bruseswitz and Sarah Whateley to run for two three-year seats on the Kennebec Water District board of directors.

Luke Brooks-Shesler, chairman of the Waterville Democratic Committee, said the night ran smoothly.

“We considered many different options in order to hold the caucus, but we decided it was safest to do over Zoom,” Brooks-Shesler said Thursday in a telephone interview. “This was the first Democratic caucus that we’ve ever had online, and we planned on all types of contingency scenarios, but nothing went wrong.”

The Waterville Republican Caucus is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday at Centerpoint Community Church, 155 West River Road.

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