WATERVILLE — Mayor Jay Coelho said Monday he is considering resigning from office after having spent the past week in a hospital intensive care unit, where he was treated for a serious heart condition.

“My prognosis isn’t good. I have a section of heart that isn’t moving. It’s just dead heart muscle,” Coelho wrote Monday afternoon in an email.

Mayor Jay Coelho of Waterville. Contributed photo

Coelho said doctors removed two blood clots from his left arteries and he “should have died Monday night” (last week), but was saved after being taken by a LifeFlight of Maine helicopter from Northern Light Inland Hospital in Waterville to the hospital system’s facility in Bangor.

Coelho spent more than four hours “on a table being saved by doctors,” and a week in the intensive care unit, which he said “should give every human pause for thought.”

Elected mayor of Waterville in November after having served a year as the Ward 5 city councilor, beginning in 2018, Coelho has pushed a number of initiatives, including supporting the city’s Fire Department in its efforts to have a transport ambulance service, and maintaining a stable tax rate.

Coelho also recently advocated for helping to fund the after-school care program at the Alfond Youth & Community Center and expanding the Kennebec Valley Community Action Group bus service.


Coelho wrote in his email Monday to City Manager Steve Daly, City Council Chairman Erik Thomas, D-Ward 7, and a Morning Sentinel reporter that he is contemplating resigning as mayor.

“I have young children, whose lives will be affected, I have people who depend on me in order to pay their bills. I have not made a decision yet, however, I am leaning towards resigning and the city should be given ample opportunity to know what may come down the line,” Coelho wrote.

He said the next three weeks would be crucial to his recovery.

“My mental capacity is in full swing even though the body may not be,” he wrote. “I do appreciate my time with you all and what we have accomplished so far. We have changed the culture of the city in just 6 months for the positive. There is still so much so be done. I am extremely thankful for the work, it’s meaningful and it’s something I am passionate about.”

In response to an email, Coelho wrote he has “kept multiple heart attacks over the last year to myself.”

“It’s all genetics, not diet-related,” he wrote. “I may not have much quantity left in the life but it will be full of quality.”


Coelho said a heart transplant is not an option at this time due to the genetics issue.

City Manager Steve Daly said Monday he had been aware of Coelho’s health issues.

“I am aware of what’s been happening,” Daly said, “and I’m very concerned for his health and his family and their well-being.”

Calling Coelho “a real dynamo,” Daly said the mayor has maintained an optimistic attitude.

“That’s his positive spirit,” Daly said. “We should all take lessons from that.”

Thomas said in a telephone interview he is giving Coelho time to figure out whether to resign as mayor. Although Thomas said he would hate to lose Coelho’s energy in city government, he understands health comes first.

“He has been great to work with over the last six months,” Thomas said. “He brings a lot of ideas, a lot of energy and a lot of passion for the city to the table.”

When Coelho ran last November against Republican candidate Phil Bofia, he described himself as a Libertarian-leaning Democrat who was running for mayor to “usher our great city forward to a future that works for all of us — one that is inclusive of all residents in our community — and to adequately fund our schools.”

Coelho owns You Broke It?, a mobile device and computer service center on Main Street in downtown Waterville, and Grub, a bakery on College Avenue.

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