WATERVILLE – Despite his new position as Maine’s Republican candidate for governor, Paul LePage plans to keep serving as Waterville’s mayor, at least for now.

“I plan to stay as long as I can without causing the city to have a special election,” LePage said Friday.

If he resigns, City Council Chairman Dana Sennett will become mayor until a special election is held.

LePage said he plans to meet with City Solicitor Bill Lee to discuss how best to proceed, because he doesn’t want the city to bear the expense of a special election, which would cost taxpayers $3,000 to $4,000.

“If it looks like I’m doing well (in the campaign), I’ll resign (as mayor),” he said. “If I’m in the doghouse and it looks like I’m going to get booted, I probably won’t.”

LePage has been mayor since 2003. His current three-year term expires in December 2011.

City Clerk Arlene Strahan said that when a mayor resigns, the council chair takes over until a new mayor is elected and inaugurated. According to the city charter, an election must be called within 30 days of the vacancy unless it occurs within three months of the next regular city election.

State Senate President Libby Mitchell, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, will hold her seat until December, regardless of what happens in November.

If she loses the governor’s race, she will no longer hold any elective office. Democrat Patsy Crockett and Republican Roger Katz are competing for Mitchell’s Senate seat on the November ballot.

LePage and City Manager Michael Roy said there has been no disruption in Waterville’s city business since LePage announced last year that he would run for governor.

“When we need to reach him, he’s been accessible and involved,” Roy said. “My hope is that he will decide to continue (as mayor), because it hasn’t impacted what we’ve had to do here.”

LePage said that being mayor while campaigning has caused no problems. “Mike and everyone at City Hall have been wonderful. If he needs me, he contacts me. I’m always available by phone.”

Roy was hired as city manager 5½ years ago, before changes were made to the city charter that gave less power to the mayor and more to the manager.

LePage was a member of the commission that pushed for changing the way city government is run. He advocated giving more power to the manager and less to the mayor.

Roy said there has been a lot of excitement about the prospect of LePage serving at the state’s highest level. “I think it helps the city of Waterville,” he said.

On Friday, three days after winning the Republican gubernatorial nomination, LePage was busy answering calls and e-mails.

“Let’s put it this way,” he said, “people complain about having 100 e-mails a day; I’ve been at it for an hour and a half and I have 955 more to answer. My phone rings at least every three minutes.”

LePage said he is still amazed at the number of votes he got Tuesday in the primary election. “I’ve been pinching myself all week. I figure it’s a dream and I haven’t woken up.”