Biddeford City Councilor John McCurry Jr. was elected as council president, for the fifth time on Dec. 17. Courtesy photo

BIDDEFORD — For the fifth time, John McCurry Jr. was elected president of the Biddeford City Council by his fellow councilors on Tuesday, Dec. 17.

McCurry is starting his fourth term in the two-year position under Mayor Alan Casavant. He served in the position once before, under former mayor Wallace Nutting.

McCurry, who in November was elected for his eighth, non-consecutive two-year term on the council, said there are few duties associated with the role of council president.

One responsibility is leading the council during meetings when the mayor is absent, and the president also plays a role in setting meeting agendas.

McCurry said he and Casavant don’t always see eye-to-eye on the agenda and other issues they work closely on.

“We’re on different ends of the political spectrum,” he said. McCurry is a Republican and Casavant is a Democrat.

However, he said, “we get along great.” He said he wished politicians in the nation’s capital acted with the same decorum as he, Casavant, and his fellow councilors.

Another responsibility as council president is chairing the council’s Finance Committee. “That’s your baby,” McCurry said of the committee. As a fiscal conservative, McCurry takes that role very seriously.

The president also appoints a member to the Finance Committee — McCurry appointed Councilor Michael Ready, who was confirmed by the whole council on Dec. 17

While being council president may not come with any extra powers, McCurry does have some goals for the new year. The first he said is better communication by the council with Biddeford residents.

“My goal is to get this communication thing better,” McCurry sad during a telephone interview on Wednesday, Dec. 18. “We don’t get the information out.”

“We’ve got to make sure the community knows what’s going on,” he said.

“If everybody’s got all the information, they can make an informed decision,” McCurry said.

“It used to be the paper and TV station would bring out the information and that would bring the people out,” he said.

“Now it’s a whole new game. … There’s so many forms of communication,” McCurry said. “We have to catch up.”

Another thing he would like to see is better communication by city staff with the council about what’s going on in the city.

“The city manager (James Bennett) says we have a lot going on,” McCurry said.

“The council needs to know everything that’s going,” McCurry said. “We need to create a list and let the council prioritize.”

In addition to approving a council president, the council confirmed the appointments of a number committee and commission members.

Those city councilors confirmed include: Finance Committee, Michael Ready and Stephen St. Cyr; Michael Ready; Personnel Committee, Michael Ready, William Emhiser, Robert Quattrone Jr. and Norman Belanger; Policy Committee, John McCurry Jr., Chair, Doris Ortiz and Norman Belanger; Capital Projects Committee, Marc Lessard, Chair, Stephen St. Cyr and Robert Quattrone Jr.; Downtown Committee, Norman Belanger, Chair, Amy Clearwater, Doris Ortiz and Marc Lessard; Solid Waste Management Commission, Robert Quattrone Jr. and Amy Clearwater; Wastewater Management Commission, William Emhiser; Joint  Bidideford-Saco Committee, Marc Lessard and Michael Ready; Maine Water Citzens Advisory Committee, Stephen St. Cyr; Biddeford Arena Board, Robert Quattrone Jr.; Downtown Development Commission, William Emhiser; Tri-City Transit (Shuttlebus), Doris Ortiz; and Cable T.V. Committee, Stephen St. Cyr.

Others confirmed to various committees, commissions and positions include: Keith R. Jacques and the firm of Woodman Edmands Smith Danylik, Austin & Jacques, P.A., as city solicitor; Albert Shinkel, Biddeford Housing Authority; Daniel P. Boucher and Robert Provencher, Capital Projects Committee; Thomas Craven, Chrystina Gastelum and Steven Reiter, Conservation Commission; Stephanie Edwards, Downtown Development Committee; Priscilla McGuire, Leah Schaffer and Aurelie Dyer Wallach, Historic Preservation Commission; Bruce Benway and William Southwick, Chair, Planning Board; Nathan Bean and Renee O’Neil, Policy Committee; Alan Dutremble, Recreation Commission; Paul Lariviere, Shellfish Conservation Committee; and Sean Tarpey, Harbor Commission and Wastewater Management Commission.

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