GARDINER — After reviewing four candidates interested in serving on the Gardiner City Council, elected officials selected Russell “Rusty” Greenleaf to temporarily fill the vacant seat on the council.

Newly appointed Gardiner City Councilor Rusty Greenleaf on Thursday in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Greenleaf, 51, was chosen Wednesday in a secret ballot vote at the City Council meeting and is expected to be sworn in soon. He will serve out the balance of the first year of Maryann White’s term. White announced in July that she was stepping down because she and her husband were moving out of Gardiner.

“I like the city of Gardiner, I have lived there my whole life, I like to be involved and I think I can help,” Greenleaf said Thursday.

Among the issues he said he’s looking forward to working on is supporting existing businesses and new ones throughout the city, not just in Gardiner’s historic downtown.

“The public safety building is 50 or 60 years old,” he said, referring to the building that houses city offices, and the fire and police departments. “At some point we’ve got to bite the bullet and replace it or repair it. But it needs to come sooner rather than later.”

Greenleaf works at the O’Connor Auto Park in Augusta, in charge of transportation, safety and maintenance. Before going to work there a decade ago, he owned a convenience store and oil company in Gardiner, which he sold due to health reasons.

“My biggest regret is not working in Gardiner anymore,” he said, “but I love my job up here and I couldn’t ask for a better boss.”

Greenleaf said he has served on committees in Gardiner since he graduated from college, dating back to the time that Brian Rines was mayor, from whom he took a piece of advice that he tries to follow to this day.

“I can’t tell you what the hot topic was (at a City Council meeting) but it was a hot topic,” Greeleaf said. “He started the meeting by saying, ‘We’re here and we’re going to disagree. It’s OK to disagree, but don’t be disagreeable.'”

When he took his seat at the council table Wednesday, he was seated next to District 4 Councilor Marc Rines, son of the former mayor. Because he had not yet been sworn in, he did not participate in any votes.

Greenleaf has just wrapped up his second term serving as the president of the Gardiner Rotary Club. He’s a Shriner and a Mason, and he’s active in the Gardiner United Methodist Church.

He will now step down from the city’s Board of Appeals because of his appointment to the City Council.

The vacancy also drew interest from William Barron and Scott Williams, who both have served on the City Council before, and from Kristen Poremby. Greenleaf, Barron and Poremby gave brief presentations to the council. Williams is currently serving with the Maine Army National Guard.

Under the city’s charter — the document that outlines how a city operates — a vacancy on the City Council is filled temporarily by a vote of the remaining members of the council. The position then appears on the ballot at the next regular or special municipal election for city residents to choose who will serve for the remainder of the two-year term.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Mayor Patricia Hart said to appear on November’s ballot, candidates will need to file nomination papers.

Greenleaf said he plans to seek election in November.

He is married to Paula Greenleaf and they have three daughters and one granddaughter.

“I hope I have something to offer,” Greenleaf said. “My love for the city is endless.”

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