Auburn mayoral candidates: Adam Lee and Jason Levesque

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Adam R. Lee

Name: Adam R. Lee

Office sought: mayor of Auburn

Occupation: attorney at Trafton, Matzen, Belleau and Frenette, LLP

Education: juris doctor degree, cum laude, Vermont Law School; Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Texas

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Family: wife, Heidi L. McCarthy

Political experience: Ward 4, Auburn city councilor

Questions

1. Why do you think you’re the most qualified, or best candidate for this seat? 

According to Auburn’s charter, the mayor does not run the day-to-day operations of the city. City staff does. The mayor does not make policy. The City Council does. The mayor is the liaison between the council, staff, and the public. As someone who has served two terms on the Auburn council, and someone who was a member of a city staff as an in-house attorney in Portland, I am well acquainted with each of these perspectives. I have the temperament to unite these groups to work together. I look forward to that opportunity.

2. How do you envision your leadership style in working with the City Council and city staff?

As discussed above, the mayor is the liaison between council, staff, and the public. In presiding over council meetings, it is essential that the mayor be an impartial arbiter of procedure. More like a judge than an advocate. That is how I will conduct myself. Firmly, but fairly. City staff should be free to do their job without micromanagement or non-constructive criticism by the council. It is the mayor’s role to support the city manager to ensure the council gives clear direction to staff, then gets out of the way. The council makes policy. Staff implements it.

3. What do you believe is the biggest issue facing your city? Why? 

Stagnant and diminishing property values. Particularly in an era that sees decreasing federal and state funding for municipalities, diminishing property values mean it is far more difficult to maintain services without increasing the property tax burden. If we fail to grow our property values, the city will have no other choice but to raise taxes or cut services. That’s why we must increase our property values. Thankfully, there are solutions. (See answer to number 5.)

4. What do you like about the city budget passed this year, and what don’t you like?

I do not like that the city budget substantially increased property taxes, and allocated $847,626 to economic and community development, without a coherent plan as to how such allocations will grow property values and prevent drastic future tax increases. I’m also disappointed that insufficient amounts were allocated to transportation to restore bus services (particularly in New Auburn) for many who rely on such services, including to get to their jobs. I like that the library, an invaluable resource available to the entire community, was fully funded.

5. What is the best way for your city to boost economic development and its attraction to people from outside the region? 

We know for a fact that the most cost-effective and efficient way for us to increase property values is to focus on the downtown. Our downtown is the most undervalued section of our city, and costs the least to service. We should be willing to invest in smaller, local-based redevelopment efforts, rather than always swinging for “home run” projects with out-of-town developers. It’s time we grow our valuation and lower the tax burden. We know how. Let’s do it.

6. Do you support the merger of Lewiston and Auburn? 

Don’t vote for or against me, nor for or against any candidate based on our position with respect to the merger. You get to vote on the merger. Use the merger ballot to do that. Irrespective of the result of the merger vote, I would work toward re-establishing our relationship with Lewiston and restoring trust and transparency to Auburn Hall. Doing so is in Auburn’s best interest. It’s the mayor’s job to act in that best interest. I’d like your vote because – whether we decide to be Lewiston-Auburn or Lewiston and Auburn – I’m the best person for that job.

Jason Levesque

Name: Jason Levesque

Office sought: mayor of Auburn

Occupation: founder and CEO of Argo Marketing Group, Inc.

Education: West Virginia Wesleyan, University of Southern Maine, U.S. Army

Family: wife, Tracey, children, Alexandra, 19, Ethan, 11, Sarah, 9

Political experience: 2010 Republican nominee for Maine’s Second Congressional District.

Questions

1. Why do you think you’re the most qualified, or best candidate for this seat? 

I have real world experience managing budgets, creating jobs, and attracting new business. Not as an outsider, but as someone who grew up here and has the historical context to understand what we need to move Auburn forward.

2. How do you envision your leadership style in working with the City Council and city staff?

I will bring a participative style of leadership to the position of mayor, with challenging questions and “what if” statements, encouraging both the council and staff to think in different ways in order to achieve the best possible outcome for the citizens of Auburn, without doing financial or lifestyle harm to our current citizens. Applying a proven and proactive approach to forward thinking — not just what happens today, but how decisions affect us for a generation to come — will yield a stronger Auburn.

3. What do you believe is the biggest issue facing your city? Why? 

We need to understand how Auburn fits in the economy and minds of Southern Maine, and rethink our current zoning regulations, which are archaic and need a complete overhaul. For example, we must strike a balance within our city, in order to take advantage of potential high-density residential development surrounding the Maine Turnpike. This will attract folks who want to commute to Portland, but still allow current land use for agriculture, if so desired. The two can live in harmony together, and allow current landowners the opportunity for smart development, if so desired.

4. What do you like about the city budget passed this year, and what don’t you like?

While the budget was thoughtfully put together in a broad sense, I do not like the allocation of resources toward marketing Auburn throughout New England. With an economic and community development budget of $1.7 million, I can only see a fraction of 1 percent earmarked for “marketing support.” This makes absolutely no sense. I don’t want to see the budget increase, but I do want to see significant dollars allocated toward direct marketing and advertising of Auburn as a first-rate city that everyone in New England envies.

5. What is the best way for your city to boost economic development and its attraction to people from outside the region? 

First, you understand the audience in which you wish to target. Second, you educate them on the why they should live/work here, and third, you give them a compelling offer to do just that. There is no one initiative that will fix our problems, but rather a thousand small messages that will deliver your desired results. Basic marketing principles that are successful in the business world should, and can, be easily applied at the city level.

6. Do you support the merger of Lewiston and Auburn? 

No.

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  • deimos19

    Simple question: Do you support the merger? Jason gave a simple answer and Adam gave a paragraph answer without answering. That tells me all I need to know about both people. Vote Jason.