Gorham’s Robinson bows out ‘for now’

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Gorham Town Clerk Laurie Nordfors last week administers oath of office to Town Councilors, from left, Paul Smith, James Hager and Benjamin Hartwell.

Gorham’s Town Council meeting last week ended a long tenure on the board for Matthew Robinson, who was first elected in 2000.

Robinson, the council chairman, thanked a multitude of past and present officials and citizens, along with his wife, Melissa, and their daughter, Samantha. He also memorialized deceased town councilors Phil Dugas and Cal Hamblen.

He did not seek re-election in November, but in his farewell remarks, Robinson didn’t rule out additional service to the community. “Bye for now,” he said.

Many heaped praise on Robinson, 50,  for his dedication to the town. Besides his time on the Town Council, Robinson also coached youth sports.

A former town councilor and a board chairman, Phil Gagnon, congratulated Robinson for his work over the years.

Gorham businessman Hans Hansen said from the public podium, “Keep up your good work in the future.”

Michael Phinney, who succeeds Robinson as chairman, honored Robinson and outgoing Town Councilor Bruce Roullard, who also didn’t seek re-election, in a presentation.

Robinson was instrumental in guiding the town during a major growth period. When he was first elected in 2000, the town’s population was 14,141, according to U.S. Census figures, and has jumped to more than 17,000. Gorham has been called the fastest growing community in Maine.

Robinson served during the years of study that led to construction of the Bernard P. Rines Bypass that diverts big trucks and much commuter traffic out around Gorham Village.

He was a central figure on the board during the lengthy controversy involving the town-owned clock that had stopped. After debates of a separation of church and state matter, the historic clock was ultimately repaired and reinstalled in the First Parish Congregational Church.

Robinson is known for his pro-business approach in governing and for austere town budgets. He favored economic development to ease the tax burden on property owners and he supported consolidating the town’s dispatch services with Cumberland County.

With expiration of Robinson’s term, the Town Council makeup changed last week. Town Clerk Laurie Nordfors administered the oath of office to two newly elected town councilors, James Hager and Paul Smith, in addition to Benjamion Hartwell, who was re-elected.

Besides choosing Phinney as chairman, the board named Ronald Shepard as its vice chairman.

Gorham Town Clerk Laurie Nordfors last week administers oath of office to Town Councilors, from left, Paul Smith, James Hager and Benjamin Hartwell.

Gorham Town Council Chairman Michael Phinney, right, presents a plaque to Matthew Robinson, who did not seek re-election to the board, for his long service to the town. Bruce Roullard, who also didn’t pursue re-election, looks on and was also recognized. Robinson was first elected in 2000.