Walt McKee adjusts a lantern on the granite post adorning his Augusta law office on Sunday, Jan. 15. The litigator was recently appointed to fill a vacancy on the Hallowell City Council. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

HALLOWELL — A noted defense attorney has been named to fill a vacancy on the Hallowell City Council.

Walt McKee, 56, said Thursday that he had reached out to Mayor George Lapointe to express interest in the vacant seat when he learned that Peter Spiegel, who was one of two at-large city councilors, announced he was stepping down in November.

McKee said Lapointe had contacted him to say he’d be appointed, and the announcement would be made in January.

“I anticipate running for election in June,” he said.

Lapointe didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about how many residents had expressed interest. He said at least a dozen names had been submitted by Dec. 11.

Hannah Barry, a leader of the Hallowell Pride Alliance who ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the council in November, was among the candidates who lost out to McKee.


“It was a difficult choice because I had a handful of very qualified candidates,” Lapointe wrote in a Dec. 26 email to Barry obtained by the Kennebec Journal. “I view Walt’s combination of legal experience, past volunteering, broad engagement, judgement and social skills as the best fit for Hallowell City Council.”

McKee said he’s looking forward to serving for a period of time to get a better understanding of issues that are important for the City Council and the city in general.

Eliot Cutler talks with his lawyer Walt McKee, right, before Cutler’s plea change hearing May 4 in Hancock County Superior Court in Ellsworth. McKee was recently appointed to fill a vacancy on the Hallowell City Council. Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald file

As a longtime Hallowell resident, McKee has served on several city committees, but he has not run for office before. He had served for five years as chairman of the city’s Ethics Commission, and currently serves on the city’s Board of Appeals and on the Tree Board. He just wrapped up a term on the Augusta Historic Review Board.

McKee is a well-known a criminal defense attorney whose clients have included Eliot Cutler, the former gubernatorial candidate convicted of possessing sexually explicit images of children, and Andrea Balcer, who is serving a 40-year prison sentence for killing her parents in Winthrop on Halloween in 2016.

McKee has served in various capacities, including as president of the Maine Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and on the Maine Trial Lawyers Association.

He has also coached track for the Hall-Dale middle and high schools and coached the Hall-Dale Youth Soccer Program.

“I understand the commitment that’s involved,” he said. “I am certainly familiar with the whole host of different legal issues that come before the City Council and the operation of municipal government, so there will certainly be a time commitment. But I’m in a place in my practice where I can carve out time to do this, and I am looking forward to doing it.”

Hallowell city councilors are paid $10,500 annually according to the city budget.

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