BANGOR, Maine — Gerry Palmer, a lifelong resident and well-respected historian of all things related to the Queen City, was selected by fellow city councilors as chairman of the council Monday to serve as Bangor’s next mayor.
“I have a notorious reputation of looking into Bangor’s past, but today I’m looking to the future,” Palmer said after taking the gavel from outgoing council Chairwoman Susan Hawes.
Palmer, 60, was re-elected just last week to a second consecutive three-year term on Bangor’s council and was sworn in only minutes before his nomination for mayor.
Councilor Hal Wheeler, in nominating Palmer, called him a “person whose love for the city literally knows no bounds.” Wheeler also noted that Palmer, who has served 10 years as a city councilor dating back to the 1990s, has earned it.
“It’s about time,” Palmer joked of his ascension to mayor. “I’m very honored to serve in this role, and I hope I can make the best of it.”
Also sworn in as new councilors Monday were David Nealley and Rick Bronson, replacing Councilor Frank Farrington, who was term-limited, and Richard Greene, who resigned in June after being convicted of forgery.
Nealley, 47, is chief operating officer of Webster Atlantic-Bangor Metro and was a Bangor councilor from 2001 to 2004. He also has served on the YMCA Foundation and the American Folk Festival Development Committee.
Bronson, 61, is the fire chief for Brewer, but has been a Bangor resident for nearly 40 years. He and his wife operate the Subway restaurant on State Street.
In a brief speech to the new council, Palmer said Bangor faces many challenges in the coming year and is not immune to the nation’s economic struggles.
“But, we’re in better shape than most, he said. “And whenever possible, we should be led by example.”
Palmer is the managing partner of Palmer Lee & Grace, an independent career counseling and outplacement business, and previously was executive director of Northeast CONTACT, a consumer advocacy agency.
He said he hopes to be a better ambassador for the city, its residents and the many visitors who filter through Bangor every day.
Palmer also praised Hawes for her year as council chair.
“Bangor is in a much better position because of you,” he said.
Hawes said she was pleased with her term as Bangor’s mayor, particularly in ushering Hollywood Slots into its new location on Main Street and getting the ball rolling on a new arena.
“I’m looking forward to getting my own voice back,” she said.