BANGOR, Maine — Councilor Cary Weston was picked Monday morning by his fellow councilors to serve as chairman and mayor for the 2012 year.
Weston was first elected to the Bangor council in November 2009 and has served as chairman of the council’s business and economic development committee.
He takes over for Susan Hawes, who chaired the council during 2011.
Weston will lead a council that saw the addition of three new faces earlier this month. Ben Sprague and James Gallant are first-time councilors with no political experience. Joe Baldacci, who served on the council in the past, also was elected.
In an odd procedural move on Monday, Weston was elected as mayor in a 5-0 vote. Both he and Councilor Pat Blanchette were nominated to serve as chairman. However, because Weston was nominated first, he was voted on first. Once five of the nine council members indicated their support for him, a vote for Blanchette was not necessary.
With construction of a new arena and civic center under way, Weston said one of his top goals for the council will be to leverage the project and Bangor’s recent cultural successes to entice economic development.
That already has happened, to some degree, he said.
“We’ve had more discussion about economic development in the last eight months here than in the previous couple years,” Weston said.
Collaboration also is one of Weston’s priorities. He said the city can and should do more to reach out to adjacent communities and to the private sector in certain areas.
He also acknowledged the difficult task of keeping Bangor’s budget in line. The city, like many other communities across the state, stands to lose funding from state and federal entities that could either affect services or taxes.
“We need to be respectful and vigilant with the city’s checkbook,” Weston said. “There are cuts we know about, but others we don’t. It’s going to require an exhaustive look at all department budgets and we’re going to need to do it early.”
Bangor’s new City Council chairman said he and other city representatives should do more to communicate with the public. On Dec. 1, the city plans to launch its new website and Bangor’s government-access television channel is undergoing an upgrade as well.
Weston runs a local marketing business firm, Sutherland Weston Marketing Communications, and has lived in Bangor his entire life.