“My family’s been here since the 1700s. I was born and brought up here,” says Stonington Town Manager Kathleen Billings, who lives in her native Deer Isle.
After graduating from Deer Isle-Stonington High School, she earned an accounting degree at Beal College in Bangor. Returning home on weekends, Kathleen worked at the Stonington Lobster Co-op “to help pay some of the bills. It was good experience working down there.”
After her college graduation, Kathleen worked for local companies, managing offices and doing bookkeeping. Along with other Deer Isle residents, “we started the process” of drafting a clam ordinance, and “I took it to both towns and got the ball rolling,” she recalled.
Hired as the Stonington town clerk in the late 1990s, Kathleen later became the town manager, overseeing the municipal departments, the town office “and the municipal fish pier,” which “pays for itself through user fees” and other revenue sources. Kathleen also oversees the Stonington Water Co., which along with the town’s wastewater treatment plant is managed by Olver Associates.
“We still have our waterfront infrastructure,” Kathleen said. “You couldn’t build what we have down here in another place.” The town has “the biggest fishing fleet in the state of Maine,” she noted, and fishing dominates the local economy.
“When you think of Stonington, you think of Stonington lobster, and we’re proud of that,” Kathleen said.
“There’s a lot of tourism here in summer,” she observed. Kathleen started “the ‘Sidewalk Project,’” and the town rebuilt Hagen Dock, the public landing, and established several parks. “Doing some of those things has made Stonington more attractive,” she said.
When not working — which she really enjoys doing — “I like genealogy,” Kathleen said. “I’ve done a lot of that in earlier years. I like reading. I really like history and museums.”