2017-05-25 / News

Councilor overcame obstacles to serve the public

By Grant McPherson
Staff Writer


Ward 5 City Councilor Bob Mills seated at his usual place in Biddeford City Council chambers. Mills hopes to continue teaching history and government but hasn’t ruled out finding another avenue to serve in public office. (Grant McPherson photo) Ward 5 City Councilor Bob Mills seated at his usual place in Biddeford City Council chambers. Mills hopes to continue teaching history and government but hasn’t ruled out finding another avenue to serve in public office. (Grant McPherson photo) BIDDEFORD – Bob Mills, city councilor for Ward 5 in Biddeford, said being an elected official has been a phenomenal journey. After getting into trouble in high school and then joining the military, he said, there weren’t many people who believed he could do it. Mills didn’t win the first time he ran, either.

“I set myself forward with the mentality of honesty and integrity. That’s the kind of person I am,” Mills said.

Mills will resign from his position effective June 13. Mills, his wife and two sons will be moving to Ward 4, preventing Mills from continuing to serve in his current position on the city council. Mills said he is not sure what his next plans are regarding public office, but said he has no intention of challenging Robert Quattrone for the Ward 4 council seat. Mills has spoken to the mayor about serving on a board in the future. Mills works right now as a night auditor for the Hilton in Portland while substitute teaching in the daytime. He would like to earn his teacher’s certification and continue teaching history and government.

Mills is on his fifth term as city councilor in Biddeford. He said he never intended to make a career out of it, but feels the past 10 years on the council have been amazing. He had several challenging moments in his 10 years in public service. During his second term the vote to allow a racino in Biddeford passed by city voters but was overturned at the state level, a measure he still sees as a missed opportunity for jobs and income.

Mills said the purchase and closure of Maine Energy Recovery Company during his third term was difficult as well, since 85 jobs were eliminated as a result. Mills said the incinerator was preparing to shut down at the time anyway, and its absence has helped spur revitalization efforts downtown.

Mills said the development of the downtown has been one of the most rewarding parts of his job. He said when he moved to Biddeford about 15 years ago the downtown was desolate.

“To see it blossom into what it is today is phenomenal. Walking up and down Main Street there are new sidewalks, businesses and trees. I’ve seen communities like ours change, I’ve seen them grow and I’m glad to have been a part of it,” Mills said.

Often, Mills was the swing vote on the nine-member council, which Mills said we was fine with. Mills said he’s sure he’s received a few emails over the years from residents expressing their discontent, but overall never felt anyone in his ward was displeased with him. He said he always did research on a topic before a vote and weighed options.

“I try to consider the benefits for the residents of my ward in every one of my votes, not just for the present but five, 10 and 20 years from now,” Mills said.

Mills said he would like to see more anchor businesses to establish jobs within the city. He said he also hopes to see a business park that could offer 500 to 1,000 new jobs.

Mills said he is grateful for the positive community here in Maine. He said he wouldn’t trade his learning experiences for anything in his life.

What advice does Mills have for the person who fills his position on the city council?

“Hit the ground running,” he said.

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