SOUTH PORTLAND — Incoming Mayor Claude Morgan asked residents to make 2019 the “Year of the Senior Citizen in South Portland” during his inaugural address Monday.

The annual event featured the inauguration of newly elected City Council and Board of Education members. Councilors April Caricchio and Misha Pride and school board members Richard Matthews, Matthew Perkins and Elyse Tipton were sworn in by City Clerk Emily Scully.

The school board formally elected Matthews and Mary House to be its chairman and vice chairwoman, respectively, and the council formally elected Morgan to serve as its chairman and mayor of Maine’s fourth-largest city in the coming year.

Morgan pitched the idea of residents reaching out to older neighbors to run errands or shovel walkways or include them in visits to Bug Light Park. He suggested it as a way to promote community healing in the wake of the divisive development and ultimate voter approval of short-term rental regulations this year.

“I believe we can build off our recent conversation about neighborhoods immediately … because these are values we all share, no matter your position on short-term rentals,” Morgan said. “I also believe this is the right council to start this new conversation and initiative.”

Morgan said Councilors Maxine Beecher and Susan Henderson have surveyed the city’s older and more isolated residents and will release a report on their findings early next year. He also noted that Caricchio and Pride work with senior citizens.

“We all share an interest in improving the lives of our seniors and in valuing their experience and their role in the growth of our city,” Morgan said. “This simple awareness and simple call to action will tighten our bonds. This is how we heal. This is also how we lead.”

Morgan accepted the gavel from outgoing City Councilor and Mayor Linda Cohen, who advised councilors, “no matter how nasty people might be … always take the high road.”

Matthews also spoke about the school board’s 2019 agenda, saying that the anticipated June referendum on a consolidated middle school proposal will make it “one of the most exciting years” for the city’s public schools.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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