Biddeford City Clerk, left, swears in Alan Casavant for his sixth term as mayor at Biddeford High School on Dec. 7. His wife, Patti Jalbert, is by his side. Courtesy photo

BIDDEFORD — On Dec. 7, Alan Casavant took the oath of office to be sworn in as Biddeford’s mayor for his sixth term.

Likewise, those others who won the election on Nov. 2, the nine members of the City Council, seven members of the School Board, as well as several other elected officials, were sworn into office by City Clerk Carmen Morris at the city’s 150th inauguration at the Biddeford High School Little Theater. Former Councilor Ashanti Williams was the host for the event. Because of concerns regarding COVID, only elected officials and their family members were allowed to attend.

Biddeford’s new City Council members were among those given the oath of office by City Clerk Carmen Morris at Biddeford High School on Dec. 7. The new members are: front row, from left: Liam Lafountain, Ward 7 Councilor; William Emhiser, Ward 1 Councilor; Martin Grohman, Ward 3 Councilor; Doris Ortiz, Councilor-At-Large; and Amy Clearwater, Ward 5 Councilor; and back row, from left: Marc Lessard, Councilor-At-Large; Bobby Mills, Ward 4 Councilor; Norman Belanger, Ward 6 Councilor; and Scott Whiting, Ward 2 Councilor. Courtesy photo

In addition to the mayor, others who took the oath of office were: City Councilors Marc Lessard, councilor-at-large, Doris Ortiz, councilor-at-large, William Emhiser, Ward 1, Scott Whiting, Ward 2, Martin Grohman, Ward 3, Bobby Mills, Ward 4, Amy Clearwater, Ward 5, Norman Belanger, Ward 6, and Liam LaFountain, Ward 7; and School Board members Lisa Vadnais, Amy Grohman, Michele Landry, Randy Forcier, Rebecca Henry, Meagan Desjardins and Nathan Bean.

During his inauguration speech, Casavant talked about the positive changes that have taken place in his hometown.

“While I absolutely love the new shops, apartments, and restaurants, it is the groundswell of community pride that I cherish the most,” he said. “It was not that long ago when Biddeford was the butt of bad jokes. Our high school graduates longed to get out of here. UNE students would never venture into the downtown. … No more. Today, Biddeford is cool. The downtown is vibrant, and people brag about living here! And just think, there is more yet to come!”

“Unfortunately, not all is perfect,” Casavant said.

He noted the shortage of affordable house and the problem of homelessness, even for many with jobs. With rising prices of utilities and other necessities, and higher rental prices, Casavant said, for many “their incomes simply do not allow them the luxury of paying for today’s rental costs.”

“I will be asking councilors, this month, to create a committee to gather public input, research remedies, and recommend action through the use of the community,” he said. “Doing nothing doesn’t solve the problem.”

Casavant also talked about the affect of rising prices on taxpayers.

However, despite the problems, the city has a lot to celebrate, Casavant said, not only it’s beautiful landscape and new businesses but especially the talent of its people who give their time and talent.

He called on residents to work together to solve the city’s problems.

“We cannot be a city of us and them, black and white, rich and poor,” Casavant said. “We must be united in the goal of a better Biddeford, working together. You must be willing to listen to each other and respect our differences of opinion. In our increasingly polarized society, our words must ring loud and clear, not as a call to arms, but as a call to hearts.”

He concluded, former “Mayor Donna Dion used to say that the word unity was an important part of the word community. Today, that is even more true. Without each other, we cannot blossom into our full potential. Without giving of ourselves, we cannot find true happiness. Biddeford is a magical place, you just gotta believe in it.”

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