Thursday, December 5, 2013
WATERVILLE — City Councilor Eliza Mathias, D-Ward 6, resigned her post today, citing increased job responsibilities and the need to balance that with family obligations.
“I have loved serving as Ward 6 city councilor for Waterville, but my work responsibilities have just become too much,” Mathias, 41, said this afternoon in a phone interview. “It has been a great experience — it really has, and I feel fortunate to have served for three years.”
Before becoming a councilor, Mathias served four years on the city’s Planning Board. She said she will continue her work as a member of the city’s comprehensive planning committee and as a member of the Waterville Development Corp.
She cites her work on the comprehensive planning committee and her support of the South End Neighborhood Association, Gilman Place apartments and new Police Department projects as those of which she is most proud.
“I think that that’s very important to the city, to thoughtfully plan for our future and where we want to see growth and development, and where we want to spend our energy,” she said. “I really hope that the city not only adopts the comprehensive plan, but enacts it as well.”
She has worked about a year on the comprehensive plan and expects the process to conclude this year, she said.
“The police station was a really challenging issue,” she said. “It was a really lengthy process. The public was very engaged in that process and it was good to have all that input. We had to make some tough decisions and balance the need for a new facility with the need to be fiscally conservative.”
The Gilman Street School was converted into affordable housing during her tenure.
“I think overall that has been a real positive for the city,” she said.
Mathias has worked for Gould Health Systems in pharmacy claims processing and that privately owned Maine-based company was purchased recently by Emdeon, a large, national organization, she said. As a result, she has more job responsibilities and must travel out of state weekly, and that prompted her decision to resign from the council.
“I think, really, that the (council) position requires somebody who is available,” she said. “It’s hard to balance family and work and volunteering.”
City Council Chairman Erik Thomas, D-Ward 4, said Mathias’ exit will be a loss for the council.
“Hopefully someone as qualified as she was will come forward and take her spot,” said Thomas, who also is chairman of the comprehensive planning committee.
Thomas said he does not think a lot of people realize that the councilor position is largely a volunteer one. Councilors receive $50 for each regular council meeting but do not get paid for other meetings and for attending or working on other city-related events.
Mathias, he said, went above and beyond, not only in attending meetings, but also working on council issues in her free time.
“She’s one of my closest friends on the City Council, and I’m going to miss her,” he said.
City Clerk Patti Dubois said councilors at their meeting Wednesday will vote to declare a vacancy in Mathias’ ward, and a deadline will be set for those interested in the spot to send letters of interest to the clerk’s office.
“The council will interview those applicants and make a decision whether to appoint one of them or accept more applications,” Dubois said.
Ward 6 encompasses downtown and stretches east to the Kennebec River and west to Messalonskee Stream.
Thomas said he thinks Mathias’ seat will be filled before the end of the year.Amy Calder — email@example.comTwitter: @AmyCalder17