AUBURN — Mayor Jonathan LaBonte said his to-do list for the city is important, but his role as leader of the City Council will be just as key this year.

“I have an agenda and there are things I want to get done,” LaBonte said. “But I also have a pretty important role to help councilors do their collective business, especially where you have five new councilors.”

Auburn swears in the newly elected officials with a 6 p.m. ceremony Monday at Edward Little High School. LaBonte, city councilors and new School Committee members will be in attendance.

Voters selected five new city councilors at the polls last month, three of them running unopposed: Ward 2’s Robert Stone, Ward 3’s Andrew Titus and Ward 4’s Ernestine “Tina” Gilbert. They join newcomers Jim Pross, who defeated Matthew Leonard in the city’s Ward 1, and Grady Burns, who claimed one of the two open at-large seats.

Incumbent Leroy Walker will return to his Ward 5 seat, and incumbent David Young will be back at his at-large seat.

In the School Committee, members being sworn in Monday are Heidi Lachapelle in Ward 1, Bonnie Hayes in Ward 2, Thomas Kendall in Ward 3, Tammy Neilson in Ward 4, Daniel Poisson in Ward 5 and members at-large Brent Bilodeau and Faith Fontaine.


LaBonte and city councilors will get right down to business on Tuesday with a special workshop meeting with the Auburn Conservation Commission to discuss the future of the Barker Mill Recreation Trail. That meeting starts at 6 p.m. in Auburn Hall.

LaBonte said he’s talked one-on-one with each councilor and School Committee member to find out what they want to get accomplished and how they are going to work together.

“For example, how much time do they think they can allocate realistically?” LaBonte said. “You want everybody on board working to move things forward. You don’t just want one or two councilors working 40 hours per week. What are their interests? Do they have pet projects? They only have two-year terms — 24 months — and they can get a lot done if you can map it out at the beginning.”

He’s confident about the upcoming year.

“I think there are differences in how people go at things,” LaBonte said. “I think there are individual interests that are going to vary from individual to individual, but it has all been positive. They ran for office because they want to make a difference and get involved and they felt they could make an impact. I don’t think anybody ran with a grudge or an agenda or a score to settle. The positive           nature of what I’m hearing makes me very confident going into next year.”

As to his own agenda, LaBonte said Edward Little High School is at the top.


“And not just building but the programming,” LaBonte said. “I want to focus more on how we invest more on schools and doing it creatively. It may include special work groups that operate hand-in-hand with the School Committee — which is why I’ve tried to meet with the new members and learn about their motivations. I want to deepen their connections with the council and the city side before we get into the budget. That’s something I’ve learned as mayor.”

LaBonte said he also wants to find better ways to get residents involved in city business.

“We’ve had ward meetings and tried that route; we’ve have community conversations,” LaBonte said. “We want to keep getting better at that.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.