AUGUSTA, Maine — Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonte will be joining the administration for Republican Gov. Paul LePage.
LePage announced Wednesday that he has appointed LaBonte to serve as director of the Governor’s Office of Policy and Management. The office was created to replace the State Planning Office.
LaBonte takes over for former state lawmaker Richard Rosen, who has been appointed acting commissioner of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services.
“I am pleased to appoint Jonathan LaBonte as head of OPM,” LePage said in a prepared statement. “He has a deep understanding of municipal, county and state budgets, and he is not afraid to propose bold and innovative solutions that protect the taxpayer, but continue to provide services more efficiently and with less cost. We appreciate his out-of-the-box thinking, and we welcome his knowledge and his enthusiasm for moving the state forward.”
LaBonte is currently serving his second term as mayor but has previously served as a county commissioner in Androscoggin County. He is also the executive director of the Androscoggin Land Trust.
He is a graduate of the University of Maine and holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering.
LaBonte said Wednesday that he would continue as mayor but would be leaving the land trust and several other local boards on which he serves.
“It’s been a fairly quick-moving appointment,” LaBonte said. He said his interest in streamlining and making government more efficient and responsive fits well with the job in LePage’s administration.
LaBonte, who is seen as a moderate Republican who often offers measured and reflective views on the issues facing Auburn and Lewiston, said he didn’t believe his personality would conflict with LePage’s.
“The governor and I have different personalities and I don’t think there are other people that have the governor’s personality nor do I find many people that have mine,” LaBonte said. “But we both have the same interests around efficient and effective government and if I can bring some of those skill sets to bear on the analysis side then that’s a skill I can offer.”
The chance to serve the state of Maine and the governor was one he couldn’t turn down, he said.
“When a governor calls and asks you join their team, that’s a unique opportunity,” LaBonte said.
LaBonte said he did not believe his appointment had anything to do with election-year politics.
“If there’s anything political about this, it is the governor was eager to see this office created and is looking to see works delivered out of it,” LaBonte said.
LaBonte starts his new job on June 16.