LEWISTON — Heather Hunter was sworn in Tuesday as Lewiston’s new city administrator after serving as interim since July.

Hunter, the former longtime finance director, was selected by the City Council following a national search for a permanent replacement for Denis D’Auteuil, who resigned in June.

Hunter was part of an interim leadership team that was promoted after both D’Auteuil and former Deputy City Administrator Dale Doughty left the city this summer. Police Chief Brian O’Malley was tapped for interim deputy administrator.

Following the unanimous vote Tuesday, Mayor Mark Cayer said Hunter was among several applicants, but that the council felt Hunter had “the strongest resume.”

Cayer said an interview with Hunter “helped us recognize our city is going to move forward under major topics like economic development and city services.”

“We truly believe she’s going to pull together an administrative team and department heads that will rally around economic development and social issues as well,” he said.

Hunter and the city entered into a five-year contract, with an annual salary of $140,000.

Other councilors voiced support, including Alicia Rea, who said she’s learned from Hunter over the last four years.

“I’m sure the future council and employees of the city will benefit greatly from this,” she said.

Hunter has been with the city since 1989, serving as deputy city auditor, deputy finance director, then finance director.

She also served as an instructor at Central Maine Community College from 1991 through May 2020.

The administrator job posting ran from June 16 to Aug. 17. Cayer said the council then conducted a “thorough review” of nearly 40 applications.

The council met in executive session prior to Tuesday’s regular meeting.

City officials will now move forward with rounding out the administrative team. In July, Assistant Finance Director Ralph Lenfestey became interim finance director, and Lewiston Police Lt. David St. Pierre was sworn in as interim police chief.

At the time, Cayer said the city was “fortunate to put in a team that understands our community’s needs.”

JENSEN RESIGNS

Luke Jensen

Also on Tuesday, the City Council dealt with yet another resignation within its ranks as the Nov. 2 election approaches.

Ward 5 Councilor Luke Jensen resigned effective Oct. 4, just three months before his term was set to expire and just one month before the election. Jensen was not running for reelection to the seat.

Jensen became the second councilor to resign in recent months after Zack Pettengill resigned in August.

In an email Tuesday, Jensen said serving his hometown has been an “honor,” but added, “My issue is with the system, not with any people.”

“The City Charter needs serious reform,” he said. “Service on the council is just not a productive use of my time, especially while I work full-time as an elementary school teacher.”

He said since he began on the School Committee in early February 2017, he’s served under four mayors, three school superintendents, and three city administrators.

“Serving my home city has been an honor, and I will miss the camaraderie between myself and my colleagues,” he said. “I will always believe in Lewiston.”

An agenda item was added to the council meeting to discuss the resignation, with most councilors believing the city should appoint a replacement for the two-month window.

During the meeting, Cayer said he was “disappointed” he had to announce the resignation.

“It’s just been one of those years this year,” he said.

In his resignation letter to Cayer, Jensen said, “I am a much different person than when I first started in elective office nearly half a decade ago, and my energy absolutely needs to be spent elsewhere at this point in my life.”


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