Former Planning Board and School Committee member Ed Symbol joined the City Council Monday night, to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of Ward 3 Councilor Gary Groves.

Symbol was confirmed by a unanimous vote of the City Council, and City Clerk Barbara Hawkes immediately swore him in.

Symbol, of Mechanic Street, will fill out the rest of Groves’ term, which expires at the end of the year. Groves resigned from the council after the city attorney advised him that his new job as Westbrook athletic director represented a conflict of interest with his council duties.

Originally, Symbol said he was reluctant to take over for Groves, but he said he relented after Groves asked him to take his place. “I think Gary and I have similar philosophies,” he said.

This is not the first time Symbol, a part owner of Full Court Press and Rookies on Main Street, has played a role in city government. Previously, he served on the Planning Board for one year and also on the School Committee for four years.

As for his plans beyond this short term, Symbol said he is not sure if he will run for the Ward 3 council seat in the November elections. “I honestly don’t know,” Symbol said. “I’m going to have to wait and see.”

No matter what the future holds, Symbol said he plans on making the most of his time on the council. “I expect to hit the ground running,” he said.

Symbol said he plans to refer several items of particular interest to him to subcommittees of the City Council as soon as he can. He said he wants the council to take a look at managing residential growth in the city. “I think we need to start looking at how and where we’re putting these buildings up,” Symbol said.

As residential development continues in the city, Symbol said he is concerned that the fabric of the city’s neighborhoods would be damaged. “We’ve crammed places in where I don’t think places should go,” he said.

Symbol also plans to initiate a discussion regarding adding more police officers to increase coverage on the overnight shift. Symbol has a personal stake in this issue, as his Main Street businesses have been targeted by vandals several times recently. “I would like to see at least one or two more positions added to the police department to be used during the evening shift,” he said.

Symbol said he has had nine windows broken by rock-throwing vandals over the past few weeks, and he thinks the extra police presence in the city during the overnight hours would serve as a deterrent to vandals.

Symbol said he is looking forward to diving right into council business. “I’m just going to make as big of an impact as I can over the next three and a half months,” he said.

Newly confirmed Ward 3 City Councilor Ed Symbol is sworn in by City Clerk Barbara Hawkes on Monday night.The newest member of the City Council, Ward 3 Councilor Ed Symbol settles in with the rest of the council after being sworn in Monday night. Symbol took the place of Councilor Gary Groves, who resigned from the council to take the job as Westbrook Athletic Director.


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