LEWISTON — A call from state licensing officials was all Aaron Aldrich needed to get his permit to tattoo at Lisbon Street's Ink Junkies.
Councilors voted 5-0 Tuesday to approve Aldrich's local permit to work in town.
Aldrich said that once he receives the paper copy of his new state license he can begin setting up his station and scheduling a meeting and inspection with city health officials. He hopes to begin doing tattoos at the shop by the first of the year.
"But I couldn't go any further until the city approved my local license," he said. "That was the only thing holding me up."
City ordinances require a two-step licensing process for tattoo artists: First, they must get the proper certification from the state to show that they are qualified. Then, they need a city permit that lets them practice within city limits.
The city permit involves a check of the applicant's criminal record, and Aldrich has a long one. Aldrich was convicted of felony robbery in 2003, felony burglary in April 2000 and felony theft in October 2000 — in addition to several misdemeanors for theft, carrying a concealed weapon and other crimes.
That triggered an automatic denial of his permit by Lewiston city staff, which he appealed to the City Council. Councilors tabled a vote last month on his permit until they were sure his state licensing was in shape.
Aldrich said he received the all-clear from the state at 4 p.m. Tuesday, just three hours before his City Council hearing.
"I'm just really glad this part is behind me," he said. "I can start moving forward."
Aldrich, 35, said he hasn't tried to hide from his past or the things that he's done. He was released from prison in 2010.
He blames his past mistakes on drug use and says he has changed. He said he cleaned up his act, got married and has two stepchildren with a third child on the way. His family lives on South Main Street in New Auburn.
Aldrich said he has had a tough time finding work since being released from prison. He received welding and carpentry certificates while he was incarcerated, but couldn't find work because he's a felon.
He did tattoos at Old Orchard Beach's Ocean Blue this summer, but that shop closed for the winter. He has been doing odd jobs around town since then.