February 04, 2023

Baldacci team plans frugal inauguration ceremony in Augusta

AUGUSTA – Supporters of Gov.-elect John Baldacci are lining up to organize and finance an inauguration ceremony and celebration for the incoming chief executive next month at the Augusta Civic Center.

The inauguration is slated for Wednesday, Jan. 8, with a gala to be held the following night on Thursday, Jan. 9.

An open house is planned at the Blaine House, the state-owned mansion across the street from the State House where Baldacci and his family plan to reside, on Saturday, Jan. 11.

A nonprofit Maine inaugural and transition commission will serve as the vehicle to raise money to hire staff and coordinate activities, Baldacci transition team officials said last week.

A budget for inaugural and transition events could be in the $400,000 range, according to transition team spokesman Lee Umphrey.

Details have yet to be announced, but transition team officials say event planners, in line with the governor-elect’s desire, want to keep things in perspective.

As one example of an effort to tilt toward modesty rather than opulence, the governor-elect and his team specify that the gala will be a single event in the same location as the inauguration.

“One Maine, one ball,” Baldacci, a fourth-term congressman from Bangor who will become Maine’s first Democratic governor in 16 years, joked Friday.

“The governor-elect has made it very clear that even though the taxpayers of Maine are not paying for this,” inaugural events “should be in keeping with the times,” said Gwethalyn Philips, the Maine Democratic Party chairwoman who is serving as coordinator for the inauguration.

Phillips said Baldacci’s celebration will be “tasteful … but it will not be extravagant by any standard.”

Named as co-chairs of the inaugural committee are John Rohman of Bangor, Jeanne Mattson of Winthrop and former state Sens. Judy Paradis of Frenchville and Mark Lawrence of South Berwick.

Heading the inaugural and transition commission are Augusta lawyer Severin Beliveau, president, and Bangor lawyer Warren Silver, treasurer.

Transition team officials said the state provides a total of $5,000 for the entire transition process.

“Everything else … is privately raised,” Phillips said.

The Blaine House has been unoccupied as a residence since Gov. John McKernan lived there.

The outgoing governor, independent Angus King, chose to live in his own home in Brunswick.

On Saturday, King and his wife, Mary Herman, invited the public to a Blaine House holiday open house of their own.

The former home of James G. Blaine, a 19th century statesman, was presented to the state by Harriet Blaine Beale and established by the Legislature of 1919 as the official gubernatorial residence.

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