GORHAM — The Town Council Tuesday chose Councilor Lee Pratt as its chairperson and Suzanne Phillips as vice chairperson.

Pratt, 39, succeeds Phillips, who succeeds Councilor Ronald Shepard. The reorganization follows the municipal election on Nov. 3 when Phillips and Shepard were reelected to three-year terms.

Pratt said Wednesday there are many matters he would like to see addressed this year, including wrapping up work to match zoning with the comprehensive plan.

The financial impact of COVID-19 on the town is another of his priorities.

“This year’s budget could and most likely will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and I want to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect the taxpayers of this town,”
he said.

He also is concerned about the pandemic’s impact on Gorham businesses.

“I want to make sure we are assisting our local businesses as a town to make sure they make it out of this troubled time,” Pratt said.

Pratt, chief financial officer at Odat Machine, was elected to the board in 2018 and is a former Planning Board member.

Councilors Tuesday also unanimously passed an emergency ordinance that would allow the town manager and the Town Council to declare a state of emergency aimed at preventing loss of life and property. Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak said the need for an ordinance arose from the pandemic.

“It’s something we need in our back pocket,” Pratt said.

The ordinance allows the town manager to initiate a state of emergency for up to five days. An extension would be determined by the Town Council.

The town manager would oversee organizing an emergency management team and recommend an emergency management director. The manager also could implement rules or regulations such as “prohibiting or restricting” the movement of vehicles or people.

When the pandemic struck in March, the town was not empowered to declare a state of emergency, but it did pass a temporary emergency ordinance that was in effect for 90 days.

In other action, the board declared Nov. 28 as Small Business Saturday in Gorham.

With an eye on the pandemic, Phillips said shopping locally is especially important this year.

“Think about that when doing your Christmas shopping,” Phillips said.

Kathy Garrard of the Gorham Village Alliance said the group is developing a Shop Local campaign.

Comments are not available on this story.