Norman Belanger

Norman Belanger

BIDDEFORD — Longtime City Councilor Rick Laverriere is poised to hand in his resignation at tonight‘s City Council meeting. Mayor Alan Casavant is expected to name attorney Norman Belanger to fill the vacancy.

Laverriere was returned to the City Council to represent Ward 6 in November 2015 after serving four terms before losing to Roger Hurtubise in 2013. He confirmed Monday that he plans to resign tonight. Laverriere, who over the course of his council career served two terms as its president, called his decision to step down a “personal family decision.”

Mayor Alan Casavant said he will nominate Belanger to serve out the remaining months of the council term, which expires in December.

Belanger, a Harvard-educated attorney who practices in Portland, was born and raised in Biddeford and graduated from Biddeford High School  in 1975.

Belanger said serving on the City Council was not on his horizon until Casavant called.

“I said I’d think about it,” when Casavant made the initial overture, Belanger said Monday. “ I called him and asked questions about what it would involve. I spent a fair amount of time thinking about it.”

Belanger served on the city’s first environmental board. Married, he has three grown children and  three grandchildren.

Biddeford’s charter states “if a vacancy in the membership of the City Council occurs more than 180 days after the previous election, the Mayor shall nominate and the City Council shall confirm a person to fill the vacancy.” Biddeford’s last municipal election was in November 2015.

Casavant said he knows Belanger only casually and that his name emerged as he was scrolling through the Ward 6 list for possible candidates.

 “(His) name jumped up to me as did others,” said Casavant Monday. “The more I thought about it, I thought he would  be really really good. He brings a different perspective. He appealed to me in a lot of ways. I wanted someone smart, open-minded.”

Belanger is the managing partner  of the Van Meer & Belanger law firm and earned his law degree, manga cum laude, from Harvard Law School. He began practicing law in 1982, with a concentration in  health care law, business law and taxation, according to his resume on his law firm’s webpage. He is a member of the American Health Lawyers Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Service, and serves as a mediator or arbitrator for health care disputes. The webpage says his community activities have included serving on the board of Community Health Services and Tomorrow’s Promise Children’s Center, an organization which provided low cost day care for low income single parents. As well, he served on the committee which was responsible for the revision of the Maine Business Corporation Act and the Maine Professional Service Corporation Act.

Casavant said Laverriere told him several weeks ago he was thinking of resigning.

“We had some discussions about it. I really didn’t want to lose him. He brings a certain perspective and historical memory and he’s been a huge asset, but this is the decision he has made,” Casavant said.

Casavant has named two other appointees to the council during his tenure — Mike Ready upon the resignation of David Flood, and Steve St. Cyr upon the resignation of Brad Cote.

Asked what he liked most about serving on the City Council, Laverriere said he enjoyed helping the city move forward and helping constituents. What he liked least were the endless meetings associated with crafting a city budget, he said. 

Laverriere said he will continue on as chair of the Biddeford Airport Commission. As well, he is poised to be appointed Tuesday to the Biddeford Fire Advisory Committee.

As for Belanger, he said wants to help the city as it moves forward.

“The city is in a good place right now, where its moving,” said Belanger. “Hopefully we can continue to do that.”

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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