Toby McGrath after his inauguration to the town council in January. McGrath stepped down from his role on Monday to deal with personal matters. (Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record)

BRUNSWICK — Toby McGrath, who was elected to the Brunswick Town Council last November, stepped down from the position Monday night. 

With less than a year under his belt, McGrath said his time on the council was more abbreviated than he would have hoped, but a recent family health issue warranted his full attention. 

Representing Brunswick’s downtown district is time consuming, beyond just two meetings per month and studying the agenda, he said, and he would not be able to balance the needs of his family with being responsive to the people in his district.

“I’ve enjoyed the public service, but it wouldn’t be fair to the constituents,” he said.  

Council Chair John Perreault thanked McGrath for his service to the council with a plaque and small gift during Monday’s meeting, acknowledging his resignation with “a heavy heart that this is happening. “

McGrath replaced Jane Millett, who decided not to run for reelection after six years on the council.

The district encompasses much of downtown, and includes Bowdoin College down Maine Street, to Water Street, Stanwood Street and the swinging bridge.

His term was set to expire Dec. 31, 2022 and whoever fills his seat will do so for the remainder of the term. Plans for a special election, possibly in January, are still in the works and Perreault said more details should be available in the coming weeks. 

Despite his short tenure, McGrath said he was proud of the work he and the council have done in the past 10 months.

“None of us could have anticipated the challenges which have occurred this year,” he wrote in his resignation letter to the council, dated Sept. 14. “Despite these challenges, we were able to provide a budget without raising taxes; finalize a plan to balance the health of the mall with the economic vitality of the farmer’s market; begin the process of hiring a staffer to focus on drawing down federal and state grants; and so much more. Hopefully, in the future, there will be an opportunity for me to serve again.”

McGrath said in an interview Tuesday that he’s also proud of how the council worked together at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, responding quickly to enact a municipal state of emergency restrictions for local businesses and services. 

The councilors did not always agree on everything but they were not disagreeable with one another, he said. 

As a government relations professional, McGrath said he is used to working in partisan politics where decision are often based not on the best policy, but on the best politics, but working on the council was different. 

“Every councilor and staffer really has the best interest of Brunswick at heart,” he said 

There is still work to be done across the district and town for whoever fills McGrath’s shoes. 

Brunswick officials are planning a roughly $3 million Downtown Streetscape Enhancement Project to improve or replace sidewalks, lighting, trees and landscaping in the heart of downtown, and McGrath said that the design decisions made for that project will impact the shape and feel of Brunswick for the next 40 or more years. 

Then of course, there’s the budget cycle, and the 2022 budget will likely see continued shortfall from the state, which he said will likely trickle down to the town budget and impact the whole town, from paving and plowing to school funding, not just his district. 

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