Bucksport’s Town Council chairman and mayor, a 23-year council member, has abruptly resigned his position.
Town Council Chairman David Keene, a retired ship’s engineer and Maine Maritime Academy graduate, attributed his stepping down to age and a general satisfaction with how Bucksport is doing.
“The main thing is, I have been doing it for 23 years. I have spent more than half of my adult life on the council and in public service. And I am getting older,” he said. “I just decided to do it now. I had decided I wanted to go visit my son more in Florida, and I want to enjoy my camp.”
On Wednesday, Keene sent a brief resignation letter to Town Manager Susan Lessard, effective immediately, and she passed it to the council at its Thursday night meeting, which Keene did not attend.
“There will be a time where the people of this community can thank him for his service. He has assured me that he will not disappear and will continue to be an asset to this town,” Lessard told councilors.
Several councilors spoke in praise of Keene’s service and since the meeting have appointed Councilor Paul R. Gauvin to Keene’s chair. Lessard said that the Town Charter requires the council to appoint someone to serve until the next regular election.
“They could appoint anyone. Their past practice has been to appoint a former councilor who is not running in the next election. The reason they do that is to have some experience in the person chosen but not to create an advantage for a person in the next election by appointing them to serve,” she said.
Councilor Peter L. Stewart was appointed Keene’s successor as chairman and mayor Thursday night. The mayor’s position is largely ceremonial, but as chairman, Stewart runs council meetings and acts as the council’s first spokesman.
The council also swore in recently elected Councilors Paul Bissonnette and Dan Ormsby.
Keene said that he is pleased at how well the town is attracting new businesses and moving beyond the disastrous closure of the Verso Paper mill in 2015. A Maine Maritime annex for returning students and maritime personnel in need of recertification, and an indoor salmon farm are being developed as additions to the mill site.
Keene also expressed gratitude at having had the opportunity to serve his hometown.
“I always prided myself that I represented the silent majority in town. People trusted me to represent them,” he said.