Entering Belfast’s business district from Route 1, the first thing a visitor might see is the 1783 cape occupied by Interiors by Janis Stone, which stands at the corner of Route 1 and Northport Avenue.

Jim O’Connor, who co-owns the business with Stone, his wife, is hoping to be similarly visible if elected mayor in November. It might start with a personal phone call to new residents.

“’This is Jim O’Connor, mayor, and I want to welcome you to Belfast.’ I think that would do a lot to show the friendliness of people here,” said the candidate recently.

O’Connor, who is challenging Mayor Walter Ash in the upcoming election, said one of the first things he did after submitting his nomination papers was read the paragraph on the mayor’s duties in the city charter — described as  “the official head of the City for ceremonial purpose.”

The idea dovetailed with O’Connor’s belief that the mayor should have a certain public presence in the community. Maybe the personal phone calls idea wouldn’t work, he said, but being a public representative of the city is a job he believes he is well-suited to do.

“I like attending events. I like showing my face there,” he said. O’Connor mentioned a recent ceremonial event for a social service organization, the annual Wienerfest, which brought 500 dachshunds to Steamboat Landing in September, and several other events as examples.

“As the mayor, you’re representing Belfast,” he said. “You have all these valuable organizations making Belfast a better place to live and I think it’s the duty of the mayor to show up there and support those things.”

O’Connor previously served on several town committees in another municipality, and has served on the boards of a number of organizations over the years, including six years with the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce. He also co-founded of the Maine Celtic Celebration, now in its sixth year. The mayorship of Belfast would be his first elected office.

In preparation, O’Connor recently began attending City Council meetings, which he described as being like a classroom. Asked if he was looking to Ash as the teacher of the class, O’Connor said he was more interested in the procedural aspects of the meetings, specifically how the mayor functions as a moderator.

Prior to moving to Belfast, O’Connor worked as a funeral director in Orange, Mass. for 38 years. His family had been in the funeral business since 1933 and O’Connor followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, though he never owned the family business.

A large part of his work involved mediating among family members who, owing to the circumstances, weren’t typically at their best. Having a third party step in was often helpful, he said, and the same would probably hold true in conflicts among city officials or between officials and residents or outside groups.

“It doesn’t always work but it’s worth a shot,” he said. “There were few occasions where I haven’t been able to find some neutral ground to build on.”

A friend told O’Connor that his job would cease to be enjoyable when he was burying his friends and neighbors, and when that time came, O’Connor sold the business and moved north.

He had been to Belfast several times in the early 1990s — “It didn’t look so good then,” he said. Encouraged by the changes during the MBNA years, he bought a house in the city in 1998.

O’Connor moved to Belfast with Stone in 2004 and the couple followed her line of work, opening the namesake interior decorating business in a historic home at the junction of Route 1 and Northport Avenue. O’Connor and Stone had met through the funeral business and he joked that they’d considered naming the business “Curtains for You.”

“We went from crepes to drapes,” he said.

The home was derelict when O’Connor and Stone bought it but it had a great location so they set about renovating it.

“It was a good place for a business and I wanted it to look nice when people came into Belfast.”

In 2008 the home was badly damaged in a fire and though many people suggested moving, O’Connor and Stone opted to repair the old building.

Since he has lived in Belfast, O’Connor said he’s come become acquainted with a wide range of people, locals and transplants alike. He described Belfast as being like “stepping back in time, in some ways, but not behind the times.”

“You still have a sense that we’re in this together in Belfast that you don’t get other places,” he said.

Aside from presumably being a nice thing, O’Connor’s idea to call new residents personally has a promotional bent.

“Those kinds of things get talked about,” he said.

In his business experience, he said, an advertisement might not yield a direct response, but the benefits eventually come back.

“I would hope the mayor could have a role in energizing business and job opportunities,” he said.

Stylistically, O’Connor said he would be more visible in the community than he believes Ash has been. Otherwise, he did not seem eager to criticize his opponent — his interest in the position seeming to come more from the belief that he would make a good mayor than from a complaint against the incumbent.

“I feel as though the mayor needs to take a more active role in the things around the city,” he said, “in addition to duties at City Hall.”