FRANKFORT, Maine — A multi-term Frankfort selectman who was remembered for being welcoming to newcomers died over the weekend of COVID-19.
Steve Imondi, 59, first got into local politics a decade ago when an out-of-state corporation announced it wanted to put wind turbines atop Mount Waldo in Frankfort. He didn’t care for that idea, and worked to stop it.
“He was one of those people who would do anything for anyone,” Bob Sousa, a Frankfort resident who was friends with Imondi and confirmed the cause of his death, said Monday. “If you needed help with something, Steve was right there.”
Back in 2011, Imondi did research, went door-to-door to gather signatures for a moratorium and was named co-chairman of Frankfort’s Wind Ordinance Review Committee. He was passionate and dedicated to keeping the turbines off Mount Waldo, and his efforts paid off. A majority of residents voted to adopt a strict wind ordinance that year, and a majority voted to keep that ordinance in place three years later when there was a repeal effort.
“He and my oldest daughter were the driving force behind saving the town from a bunch of scavenging vultures, is how we look at it,” Sousa said. “He never really got into politics until that. That was kind of the start for Steve.”
Imondi served as one of the three town selectmen since at least 2016 and ran the town’s unofficial food pantry out of his house.
He also was a one-man welcome wagon for people such as Michele Christle, who moved to Frankfort with her partner about eight years ago. They were from out of the state, and had a lot of questions about life in their new community.
Imondi was always willing to help them find answers.
“He was always there for us for any single need that we had,” Christle said. “We could call him and ask, ‘Where do we get firewood,’ and “Who’s the snowplow driver we should talk to?’ He would say, ‘Call me up and I will tell you everything.’”
It was clear how much he enjoyed helping folks, she said, whether they had just moved to town or whether their families had been in Frankfort for generations.
“He made himself so available,” she said. “He just loved people. He didn’t care who you were.”
As well, she found Imondi to be fair, open-minded and non-judgemental — all qualities she values in a local elected official.
“Whether it was a question about COVID safety at town meeting, or a question about a dam issue, he was a really fair listener,” she said.
Frankfort Town Clerk Heather McLaughlin said Monday that it was too soon to know how the town would fill the selectmen’s seat left open by Imondi’s passing. The selectboard was scheduled to meet Monday night and planned to talk about it then, she said.
A GoFundMe created on Sept. 24 to help the Imondi family after Steve Imondi’s hospitalization raised more than $3,000. It was not clear if Imondi had been vaccinated against the disease. Efforts to reach a family representative were not immediately successful.
Imondi had worked at the paper mill in Bucksport before getting hurt on the job there, Sousa said. More recently, he and his wife, Mary, kept busy homeschooling their grandchildren along with operating their food pantry and providing meals for people in Bangor who were homeless.
“He will be missed by a lot of people,” Sousa said. “This is a hard one.”