SOUTH PORTLAND — Linda Boudreau darted across a city parking lot through the icy rain late Monday afternoon.
But this time, she wasn’t headed to the City Council workshop at the Community Center or a public hearing at City Hall.
She was simply grabbing a small cup of decaffeinated coffee and then heading home.
That’s because Boudreau, a six-term councilor, ended her service on the City Council last week, closing – or at least pausing – her nearly 30 years of service to the city.
“It’s a little bit weird,” Boudreau, 60, said during an interview at Cambridge Coffee Bar & Bakehouse on Broadway. “Last time, I knew I would be back.”
Boudreau was referring to the first time she was termed out on the council in 1999.
South Portland councilors may serve only three consecutive three-year terms before taking at least a year off.
Boudreau was first elected to the District 1 council seat in 1990 and termed out in 1999. She was re-elected to the council in 2001, only this time to the at-large seat that she will officially hold until the Dec. 6 inauguration.
But Boudreau said she does not exactly see an encore campaign in her future.
“This time, it’s probably over,” she said.
Boudreau, who has served on the Cumberland County Budget Advisory Committee for the last six years, also ran unsuccessfully as a Republican challenger to then-incumbent state Sen. Lynn Bromley in 1992.
“The campaign was brutal and something I would never do again,” said Boudreau, who has also been a registered Democrat, but is currently unenrolled.
Boudreau’s public service began in 1981 when she was elected to the School Board. She served two, three-year terms before being appointed to a term on the Planning Board.
Prior to her election to the School Board, Boudreau had been involved in local parent teacher associations. But during her first term, the board embarked on a controversial initiative of school closings.
Boudreau, who supported the closures despite vocal public opposition, was no longer welcome at PTA meetings.
“That was the first time I ever got a note that said, ‘Don’t come to our next PTA meeting,'” she said.
During her service on the council, Boudreau has developed a reputation for being an insightful and at times tough-minded individual, often at odds with special-interest groups that fill meeting halls.
Of the countless decisions that were made during her tenure, Boudreau could only think of two that, in hindsight, she considers mistakes: the decision to allow a cell phone tower on Meeting House Hill and the purchase of the former Maine Army National Guard Armory. She opposed both.
While the tower is now a permanent fixture on the hill, Boudreau hopes there is still time the salvage the Armory, which is now being considered for a film studio.
Boudreau said one of the highlights of her career was the city’s purchase of Bug Light Park when Jeffrey Jordan was city manager. And she said she was constantly amazed at issues that captured the public’s interest, such as urban chickens and beekeeping.
“Many issues are emotionally charged, not factually charged,” Boudreau said. “You try to seperate that and it’s hard.”
Councilor Maxine Beecher lauded Boudreau’s service to the city, noting her vision, institutional memory, intelligence and analytical skills.
“Linda’s got a heart of gold,” said Beecher, who has served with Boudreau for seven years on the council and three years on the School Board. “She can be as tough as anyone I know, and I mean that in a good way.”
Beecher said Boudreau was also instrumental in the growth of ecomaine, where she has served for about a decade.
Boudreau currently sits of the Cumberland County Civic Center board of trustees and said she would like to continue serving on the ecomaine board.
Beecher said she’s willing to lobby councilors to allow Boudreau’s ecomaine service to continue.
And that’s not the only lobbying she will be doing.
“Whether she’ll run again or not, I don’t know,” Beecher said. “I’d be the first to encourage her. I think she brings more than all of us put together.”
But for now, Boudreau, seems content to continue a 35-year tradition of nightly neighborhood walks with a group of friends and spending more time with her family, which includes her 91-year-old mother, her husband, two children and a grandchild.
That, and of course, watching some Monday night television.
“I won’t have to tape ‘House’ anymore,” she said.
Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Boudreau, whose career in public service has spanned nearly 30 years, has ended her sixth, three-year term on the South Portland City Council.