City Clerk Patti Dubois renders the oath of office Tuesday night to Waterville Mayor-elect Mike Morris in Waterville. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — Democrat Michael J. Morris became the city’s 55th mayor Tuesday night during an inauguration ceremony held at the City Hall Annex at 46 Front St.

Morris, 50, resigned his Ward 5 City Council seat earlier Tuesday. He succeeds Jay Coelho, who served the last three years as mayor.

“In unity, there is strength,” Morris said in his inauguration speech. “In collaboration, there is progress. Together, the council and residents can and will make Waterville a city that inspires. Here’s to our shared journey toward a future crafted by us, for us.”

Waterville Mayor Mike Morris delivers his inaugural speech Tuesday night. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

More than 100 people, including city officials, former mayors, residents and Morris’ wife, Aimee, and their family, turned out for the ceremony, which included music by the Waterville Senior High School Jazz Band directed by Sue Barre, and Sound Check, the school’s Select Chorus, directed by Ciara Hargrove.

After taking the oath of office rendered by City Clerk Patti Dubois, Morris spoke of things to come, including a comprehensive plan that will be presented to voters that he said provides a vision for the city’s future and steps needed to make the vision a reality.

“In line with the vision of our city is our vision for downtown,” Morris said. “Hundreds of people spent the better part of a year sharing what was important to them. All that data was compiled and the downtown visioning plan was presented to the public and the City Council adopted the document. Now comes the task of turning what’s on paper into fruition.”


The changes are going to require collaboration, according t0 Morris, who said he reached out to the Planning Board to say that board will play a pivotal role in reviewing and reworking some city ordinances with a goal of modernizing and identifying barriers to promote responsible growth.

“I’m committed to working with the city manager, city planner and the Planning Board chair to discuss which ordinances could benefit from a closer look,” Morris said.

The city’s growth is not just about buildings and infrastructure but about people and opportunities, he said.

“That’s why economic development is my focus, creating a robust and vibrant economy that nurtures local talent and attracts innovative minds,” Morris said. “And let’s not forget our young citizens. They are not just our future, they are our vibrant present. In acknowledging their pivotal role, we are creating a youth council, giving our young voices the platform they deserve.”

City Manager Bryan Kaenrath welcomed the crowd, recognized former mayors Nick Isgro, Karen Heck and Jay Coelho and thanked all those who ran for public office. Police Chief William Bonney, Maj. Jason Longley and Maj. Josh Woods led the pledge of allegiance and Joe Reisert, chairman of the Alfond Youth & Community Center board of directors, read aloud remarks from Ken Walsh, CEO of the AYCC, who was absent due to illness.

Morris defeated Planning Board member Matthew S. Boulerice, a registered Republican who ran without party affiliation, by 625 votes in the Nov. 7 election. Morris received 1,834 votes to Boulerice’s 1,209.


Morris is a strategy enablement and resource planning analyst for Bank of America. He had held the Ward 5 council seat since 2022 and before that, he represented Ward 1 on the council from 2018 to 2022. A 1991 graduate of Rockland District High School, Morris attended Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts, from 1991 to 1992. He has been president of the Waterville Football Boosters since 2020 and has served on the City Council’s Chamber Search Committee, Municipal Finance Committee and Recreation Committee, as well as on the Kennebec Regional Development Authority.

Coelho said after the inauguration that the city is in a “fantastic place,” and accomplished a lot in the last three years, including revitalizing the downtown; adopting community policing; naming a new city manager, police chief and school superintendent; and including the public in decision-making with a goal of positively impacting the quality of life for residents.

“Love Mike,” Coelho said of Morris. “Mike and I have been in the trenches since day one.”

When they were city councilors, Coelho and Morris pushed for the fire department’s request to have transport service to be able to move patients to hospitals, which came to fruition, and they worked on other projects together.

“We looked at everything from the bottom up, not from the top down,” Coelho said. “We have funded programs at the homeless shelter that we’ve never done before. We took a different approach. Mike will continue a lot of that work. He’s got a lot of creative ideas for moving the city forward.”

More than 100 people, including Waterville Senior High School Jazz Band members, at back left, attend the 55th Waterville mayoral inauguration ceremonies Tuesday night at the City Hall Annex at 46 Front St. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

Dubois also administered oaths of office for Councilor Rebecca Green, D-Ward 4, who was reelected by the council following the inauguration Tuesday to serve as chairwoman; Councilor Flavia DeBrito, D-Ward 2; and new Waterville Board of Education member Joseph Schmalzel. Reelected Board of Education member Maryanne Bernier was absent as was new board member Mary Pletcher. Rien Finch, who was elected in November to the Ward 6 City Council seat, also was absent.


Dubois said that the Ward 5 seat vacated by Morris will be filled at a special election on March 5, the same day as the presidential primary.

Mayoral appointments confirmed by the council Tuesday included Tom DePre and April Chiriboga, for renewed terms on the Planning Board, along with David Johnson, a former member of that board. Bruce White was not reappointed but had put in a request to continue serving on the board.

White said Tuesday night that he was somewhat surprised he wasn’t reappointed. He had served with 19 different members in the eight years on the board, he said.

“I always devoted time to learn about projects, often visiting sites to get a visual view of the area so I could be informed before voting,” he said. “I will now refocus my time and energy on other things to support our city, including extra time at the Alfond Youth & Community Center for the upcoming 100-year anniversary, as well as my work on legislative issues.”

White, a Democrat, is a state representative for District 65.

Other mayoral appointments Tuesday were: Willis Smedberg, Board of Assessment Review; Mark Poirier and Jay Coelho, Board of Zoning Appeals, Grace Poulin, Mark Poirier and Pamela Merrill, Ethics Committee; Christine Susan Johnson, Haines Charity Relief Committee; Thomas Shattuck, Kennebec Sanitary Treatment District; John Clark, Cynthia Jacobs, James LaLiberty, Andrea Pasco, Margie Burns Knight and Julianne Gilland, public library trustees; Margaret Blake and Ron Merrill, Voter Registration Appeals Board; Daniel Bernier and Cynthia Longstaff, Waterville Housing Authority; and Peter Ogden, Waterville Sewerage District Commission.

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