BIDDEFORD, Maine — On Tuesday, Alan Casavant, who was re-elected to his second term as mayor on Nov. 5, said residents should not be pessimistic about the city’s past but to look forward to its future.
The message was part of his inaugural speech before approximately 200 people gathered at the Biddeford High School Little Theater.
“Biddeford is on the cusp of magnificent changes,” he said. “We’re no longer a mill town, we’re no longer a trash town.
“We are a renaissance city.”
For Tuesday’s 146th mayoral inauguration, Biddeford resident Randy Seaver was again master of ceremonies, repeating his role from two years ago during Casavant’s first inauguration.
Despite a few technical difficulties with the audio, Seaver kept the approximately 90-minute ceremony moving.
He maintained a light mood by poking fun at one of the most contentious issues of the election season: a potential parking garage to be built in the mill district or downtown.
Seaver said he had provided the city with a parking facility and handed Casavant a toy garage.
During Tuesday’s ceremony, city councilors, school committee members and city wardens and ward clerks all joined Casavant in taking the oath of office. City Clerk Carmen Morris and Deputy City Clerk Tricia Wentworth performed the swearing-in ceremonies.
Members of the new city council include: Michael Swanton, John McCurry Jr., Bradley Cote, Robert Quattrone Jr., Bob Mills, Roger Hurtubise, Michael Ready, Clement Fleurent and Marc Lessard.
School committee members include Dennis Anglea, Tammy Fleurent, Anthony Michaud, Heather Mills, William Moriarty, Laurie Ready and Lisa Vadnais.
Wardens include Heather Locke, Ann Plamondon, Penny Beaupre and Michael Bolduc, and ward clerks include Tina Turgeon, Mignonne Plamondon and Loyce Bolduc.
When Casavant took the oath of office, he was accompanied by his fiancée Patti Jalbert and mother Alice Casavant.
Prior to giving his acceptance speech, Casavant showed a montage of slides of Biddeford people, places, new and old businesses, and images of Biddeford, past and present.
During his speech, the mayor noted some of the accomplishments of his last administration, such as the purchase and demolition of the Maine Energy Recycling Company waste-to-energy incinerator that was located in Biddeford’s downtown and the implementation of single-stream curbside recycling pickup.
Despite the progress the city has made, there are still naysayers who say the city can’t reclaim the vibrancy of its past, Casavant said.
Biddeford is “still in many ways shackled to the last century,” he said.
“My goal is to make Biddeford the destination point it was in [my] childhood,” he added.
In order to grow economically, Biddeford needs to embrace new technology and new ideas, he said. It needs to also embrace public/private partnerships.
Biddeford and Saco should work together, said Casavant, to create efficiencies and promote the region to prospective developers and investors.
City leaders need to develop a plan for the city for the next 15 years, he said, incorporating the Biddeford Municipal Airport into its planning and addressing traffic issues that will develop with the city’s mill district and downtown growth.
Casavant told the audience to use their imagination to picture a future Biddeford with a convention center in the downtown, with new hotels, stores and other businesses, and with multiple parking garages utilized by workers and tenants in the mill district and city center.
“Biddeford has so much talent,” said Casavant. “We need to break the paradigm of negative thinking.
“Biddeford’s moment is now,” he said.
In addition to the swearing-in of the city’s elected officials, Fr. Renald Labarre of the Good Shepherd Parish gave the invocation; Donald Bisson sang “America the Beautiful,” accompanied by Jura Litchfield; Delilah Poupore, Chandra Jalbert Oppenheim, Dan Capaldi and Dominic Lavoie performed several songs throughout the ceremony; and Pastor Jeff Tarbox of the New Life Fellowship gave the benediction at the end of the ceremony.