Westbrook Mayor Colleen Hilton will start her second term Monday with the task of filling two vacancies in her administration.

Keith Luke, the city’s economic and community development director, and Dawn Ouellette, chief financial officer for the city and the school department, both submitted letters of resignation last month.

Luke, who was hired in 2008, said he resigned to pursue other job opportunities but wouldn’t be more specific. His last day as a Westbrook employee was Saturday.

Ouellette will leave Feb. 3, the planned start of her maternity leave. She cited recent health problems and upcoming childbirth, in conjunction with the demands of the job, as her reasons for resigning.

Hilton said she will start searches for replacements immediately and will talk about that at her inauguration Monday. That’s also when she will announce whether she will reappoint department heads — one of the powers of Westbrook’s mayor.

Hilton made headlines at her first inauguration, in 2010, when she announced that she would not reappoint the city’s fire chief, finance director and recreation director.

She said Wednesday that the departures of Luke and Ouellette are not related to the upcoming reappointments, and that she plans to reappoint all of the other department heads on Monday.

“I have a strong team in place,” she said.

Luke said it wasn’t completely coincidental that he chose to leave his job just before the start of the mayor’s new term.

He wrote in a letter to Hilton and City Administrator Jerre Bryant: “I offer my resignation at this point to allow Mayor Hilton to match skills with the priorities of her management team during her second term in office.”

Luke said in a phone interview that he believes “the city should start with a clean slate” after dealing with difficult business issues in the past few years, including the battle between Pike Industries and Idexx Laboratories over Pike’s rock quarry, the recently resolved lawsuit with the Dreamers Cabaret strip club and last fall’s immigration raid on the Fajita Grill restaurant downtown.

Ouellette insisted that her decision was solely for personal reasons, namely that the job is “less than compatible with caring for an infant,” she wrote in an email.

Ouellette was hired in 2010 as Westbrook’s first chief financial officer — a consolidated position that replaced the city’s finance director and the schools’ business manager.

Hilton said Wednesday that Ouellette was “absolutely the right person” for the job.

She said the city won’t be scrambling to deal with Ouellette’s departure because it already had a plan for her maternity leave.

Although Luke’s decision seems more sudden, Hilton said she has known he has been considering leaving for a while.

“It wasn’t sudden to me,” she said.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

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