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SCARBOROUGH — Town councilors last week unanimously selected Councilor Bill Donovan to be the next council chairman.
Donovan succeeds former Chairwoman Jessica Holbrook, who opted not to seek re-election to a third council term.
Councilor Shawn Babine, in a 5-2 vote with Councilors Kate St. Clair and Peter Hayes dissenting, was elected vice chairman of the council. St. Clair and Hayes supported Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina.
New Councilors Chris Caiazzo and Will Rowan were also sworn in at the Nov. 18 meeting.
Donovan moved to Scarborough in 2007 and was elected to the council in 2013. This is the first time he will serve as chairman. His term both as chairman and councilor will expire in November 2016.
“I think we’ve got a really terrific group, honestly,” Donovan said of the new council Monday morning. “That, really, I think, is exciting from a chair point of view, because my job is really to put people in a position to succeed.”
As chairman, he said he wants to continue striving for a “more productive and efficient” council. “I think we can solve problems if we can be collaborative,” Donovan said.
That collaboration also applies to the council’s relationship with the School Board, particularly during the budget process. “It’s essential they be able to work together,” he said.
During his two years on the council, Donovan has helped implement a new Property Tax Assistance Ordinance that will help alleviate the tax burden on senior citizens. He also served on the ad hoc committee that worked to draft new restrictions concerning dogs and the protection of piping plovers on town beaches.
Donovan also upset many residents this summer with his harsh words about surfers during the council’s deliberations over whether parking meters should be installed in 13 spaces along Bayview Avenue at Higgins Beach. Donovan later recused himself after being asked to do so by members of the public because he owned property on Morning Street, a block from Higgins Beach.
Donovan on Monday said it’s important to “look for that common ground so that those who have voices” on opposing sides of a question “can see that their voices are being respected. That’s very much what a chair’s job is.”
If the council works hard enough, “you can find compromises on issues so as to get an outcome that is reasonably satisfactory to all respected sides of the question,” he said. “I’m going to encourage individual councilors to be very open in their discussions and debates so that people can understand what their thinking is.”