SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — After one term as a city councilor and two decades of public service, South Portland Mayor Jerry Jalbert said he will not seek re-election in November.
Jalbert, 61, a lifelong city resident who has served on city boards and committees since 1994, said in an interview Tuesday he will not run again in District 5 because he wants to focus on his personal life.
“I have done this for a really long time, and it’s been great and all,” he said. “But at some point it’s not something that you do forever.”
“I’ve got a long bucket list,” he added.
The list includes spending more time pursuing outdoor hobbies such as cycling, running, skiing and kayaking.
“There’s a lot of stuff I’d like to do, it all involves the outdoors, and it all takes time,” Jalbert said.
As a councilor for three years, Jalbert has participated in several contentious, headline-making decisions, most recently the citizen-initiated ban on tar sands in the city. But Jalbert said the politics are not the reason he is leaving the council.
“Frankly, it’s been stimulating,” he said.
Before becoming a councilor, Jalbert served five terms on the Zoning Board of Appeals, where he was chairman three times, and was a member of the Planning Board. He also spent five years on the Long Creek Watershed Management District board.
Councilor Linda Cohen said Jalbert’s announcement was surprising, but not entirely unexpected.
“It’s really too bad, because he brings so many years of city experience to the council,” Cohen said Thursday. “But it really is a huge time commitment. I’m surprised, but I’m not surprised.”
City Manager Jim Gailey applauded Jalbert’s “extremely strong leadership” as mayor for the past year.
“We will miss his presence on the city council,” Gailey said.
Jalbert said he hopes to give potential District 5 candidates plenty of time to meet the Sept. 8 deadline for submitting nomination papers. He also said he would be happy to see renters run for the council in his district, which includes most of the city west of Interstate 295, and portions of neighborhoods west of Westcott Road and Main Street.
“I think it’s time to step aside and see who wants to serve,” he said. “It’s good for new people to come up and contribute.”
Jalbert, whose term expires in December, said he will continue to follow several city projects of special interest to him, including the development of Main Street.
“At this point, my mindset is just, after 20 years of service … I feel really good about the service I’ve been able to contribute,” he said.
In addition to Jalbert’s District 5 seat, the District 1 seat held by Councilor Michael Pock and Councilor Patti Smith’s District 2 seat are on the Nov. 4 ballot.
Both councilors on Wednesday said they plan to run again.