Waterville Mayor Jay Coelho carries Shella Griffin’s broken laptop computer Tuesday as he assists her up the stairs at his computer repair business, You Broke It?, in downtown Waterville. Coelho has announced he will not seek a second term as mayor. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — Mayor Jay Coelho said Tuesday he will not seek reelection to a second term in November after having accomplished much of what he planned to do when he ran for the office in 2020.

“I feel we’ve done it all,” Coelho said. “I do love this town. Waterville’s just great. It’s been great to me. It’s been great to my family. I want some bigger things. I want to make a larger impact. It’s time to move on.”

Coelho ran for mayor as a Democrat, defeating former City Councilor Phil Bofia by a vote of 4,084 to 3,272. When he took office Jan. 5, 2021, Coelho vowed to improve infrastructure, housing, internet access and other city features.

One of Coelho’s biggest priorities was to create a cordial atmosphere among city councilors, the mayor and others following a period of tense and sometimes vitriolic encounters under his predecessor, Nick Isgro.

Isgro served two three-year terms and did not seek reelection.

“You’ve got a group of people that are engaged with each other and they’re not at odds with each other,” Coelho said. “I feel like I’ve had a part in making that happen. We don’t always agree, but we’re not throwing darts.”


Waterville Mayor Jay Coelho writes a list Tuesday of the employees of The Last Unicorn restaurant who are unable to collect a paycheck after the restaurant on Silver Street was destroyed Sunday by fire. Coelho, who is speaking to the restaurant’s general manager, has raised money to assist 10 workers. He is shown at his computer repair business, You Broke It?, in downtown Waterville. Coelho has announced he will not seek a second term as mayor. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Coelho, owner of You Broke It? on Common Street in downtown Waterville, said he plans to continue raising money for various causes through social media, including TikTok, Facebook, YouTube and other platforms. He said that over the past six months, he and others across the country have raised more than $250,000 for those in need. For instance, following the Sunday morning fire at The Last Unicorn restaurant on Silver Street, he raised more than $15,000 for employees who lost their jobs when the eatery was destroyed.

Coelho, who served as a city councilor for about a year before becoming mayor, said he also plans to continue discussing social issues online.

“I’m reaching, every week, millions of people,” he said.

Coelho, 45, cited some of the goals reached during his time as mayor, including helping to improve the Fire-Rescue Department, enhance community policing efforts, improve roads in the city’s South End, have new housing  built and champion downtown revitalization work.

He earns $5,000 annually as mayor. It is a mostly ceremonial position for which he presides over City Council meetings, can veto council actions and may issue memorandums and proclamations. He said he spends between 15 and 20 hours a week fulfilling mayoral duties.

Coelho announced in 2021 he suffers from a serious heart condition, but said it did not factor into his decision not to seek reelection.


Waterville Mayor Jay Coelho carries a computer monitor Tuesday as he assists customer Shella Griffin at Coelho’s computer repair business, You Broke It?, in downtown Waterville. Coelho has announced he will not seek a second term as mayor. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

“I’m feeling good right now,” he said. “Obviously, I know my days are limited. I want to leave an impact far beyond when I leave this earth. None of us are getting out alive.”

Coelho sees himself as a happy-go-lucky person. He walks the streets of Waterville, talking with business owners, workers, residents and visitors to the city.

Calling himself a “quality of life, not a quantity of life” person, he acknowledged he wants more time with his family. He focuses on spending money not on “toys” but on experiences, a philosophy informed by his own experiences growing up. His mother was an immigrant from Portugal who raised Coelho and his older brother and sister. She died at 52, he said.

“My father died at 49. He was a drunk who had cirrhosis of the liver,” Coelho said. “Mom kicked him out of the house when she was pregnant with me. We grew up in the projects and we had to get out of there, and we did, and now I work to help people and say: ‘This is how you move forward. You are not stuck.'”

Coelho would not discuss details about candidates for the open city manager’s position, except to say one stands out.

“There is, in my opinion, a very special candidate in the bunch,” he said. “If that person gets the job, it’s going to make my leaving that much easier on me.”

Jay Coelho has announced he will not seek a second term as mayor of Waterville. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Coelho praised the work of city councilors and Assistant City Manager Bill Post, who is serving as interim city manager until someone is hired and did not apply for the manager’s job, saying he prefers to be in the second spot.

Asked what advice he would offer the next mayor, Coelho did not hesitate.

“You’re going to get out of this job what you put into it,” he said. “If your goal is to be a rabble-rouser, it’s not going to work. Whoever steps into this position, the groundwork is laid for them. Just don’t mess it up. You have a great city that has awesome people.”

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