Clearly different: Macdonald, Paradis sound off at Lewiston mayoral debate

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Lewiston mayoral candidate Mark Paradis, right, listens to his opponent, Robert Macdonald, make a point during Monday night's debate at the Lewiston Public Library.

LEWISTON — Two different philosophies of mayoral leadership were on display Monday night at the Lewiston Public Library.

Footage of the debate will be available on Great Falls TV within the next few days, and on their website and on

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Lewiston mayoral candidate Robert Macdonald, left, reads his opening statement during Monday night's mayoral debate at the Lewiston Public Library.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

It was standing-room-only at Monday night's Lewiston mayoral debate at the Lewiston Public Library.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Members of the audience listen to the Lewiston mayoral debate at the Lewiston Public Library Monday night.

For candidate Bob Macdonald, the Dec. 13 mayoral runoff vote is a chance for residents to move the city in a different direction.

"This election is a referendum — are things going to stay the same or are they going to change?" Macdonald told the packed room. "You have a choice here. If you want them to stay the same, that's what's going to happen."

For Candidate Mark Paradis, it's a question of voting with hope in mind for the city's future — and not fear.

"I do not stand for pitting one American against another or the rich against the poor," Paradis said. "Rather I stand for hope of lifting all Americans and providing all the same opportunities that brought us, our grandfathers to these shores. I am pledging to unite us, to work with the City Council and make us a great city and a better home for all of us."

More than 130 people attended the debate, co-sponsored by the Sun Journal and the Lewiston Public Library. 

Another 300 watched a live video feed of the debate on the Internet and participated in a live online chat on

Recorded video of the debate should be on Sun Journal's Web site Tuesday afternoon. A video of the debate will also air on Great Falls TV after Friday.

City voters will go to the polls again Dec. 13 to elect a new mayor.

City rules require a run-off, since neither candidate Mark Paradis or Robert Macdonald picked up enough votes in the Nov. 8 municipal election.

Lewiston rules require that a mayor get at least 50 percent of the votes cast, plus one vote. Paradis and Macdonald were the top two vote-getters in a field of five candidates, with Paradis claiming 32 percent of the total votes cast and Macdonald picking up 31 percent.

The debate made clear the differences between the two men.

Macdonald, 64, a former Lewiston Police Officer and Lewiston Middle School aid, said he was a conservative man with a mission to reform downtown subsidized housing, buff up the city's image around the state and use the mayor's job as a bully pulpit to get city councilors moving.

"I came in second in a five-man race, which shocked the establishment," Macdonald said in his opening statement. "That just goes to show you how out of touch they are with the community that they serve. This has made me a threat to the business-as-usual crowd and I have been accused of demagoguery, shooting from the hip and being harsh."

Paradis, a service manager at Longchamps and Sons in Lisbon, said he was a more levelheaded and experienced choice who wants to encourage economic development and education and who will work with the City Council, leading them the way a conductor leads and orchestra.

"Our country has had enough politicians telling us things to get elected, and then not keeping their word — or worse, finding themselves helpless to fulfill their promises," Paradis said in his opening statement. "I for one will never lie or play your fears to be elected. I would rather not win than have to not tell the truth."

The two men agreed on several issues. When asked if they'd support a citywide lodging and restaurant tax, both men said it would be a bad idea. Both said they'd need to look carefully at the budget before saying if they would cut taxes or cut services. And both were enthusiastic supporters for redeveloping the city's riverfront and turning it into a regional draw.

But they disagreed on several key issues. Paradis said he'd be willing to work to share services with the city of Auburn. Macdonald said that was a waste of time.

"We have our problems here, and they have their problems," Macdonald said. "At such a time when we solve those problems, then we can look at cooperating. But we don't have the time now to worry about what's going on in Auburn."

They also disagreed on using tax incentives to lure developers to the city. Macdonald said it didn't make sense to pay people to develop in Lewiston. Paradis said the tools have been used well in the past.

"Let's go back to Exit 80 and the Wal-Mart Distribution Center," Paradis said. "We took that TIF and we made it happen and with it we developed infrastructure there. And because of the infrastructure and the economic development, we got the jobs going on there now."

Macdonald fought against claims that he was a anti-immigrant, saying he had nothing but respect for Somali women who've come to Lewiston to work.

"They want to learn because they weren't given  the opportunity before," Macdonald said. "The others, they didn't want to learn but those Somali girls, they want to learn."

Lewiston's Multi-Purpose Center at 145 Birch St. will be the only polling place for the entire city in the special run-off election. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Absentee ballots for the run-off election must be requested from the City Clerk's Office by Dec. 8 and must be returned  by the Dec. 13 election day.

The ballots will be counted by hand Dec. 13 and results should be available that night.

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Lewiston is a city

Cities are places where people who are physically, emotionally, mentally and financially challenged congregate because that is where the services that help them to survive are located. Add to that the clientele from Probation and parole, addiction treatment centers, group homes and shelters. The mayor of Lewiston is not going to change DHHS policy and Lewiston is no different from other Maine cities. It just makes economical sense to provide services in central locations instead of scattered in every town and village of the state. The office of mayor of Lewiston pays very little and comes with very little power. The one thing we don't need is someone who will create national embarrassment. As I recall we already had a mayor who decided to use the bully pulpit to get rid of people he didn't want here and made us a national laughing stock. I also find it ironic that the people who never want to pay taxes think it's a good idea to turn away five million dollars in rental money. I wonder what that converts to in property taxes? Finally, Lewiston has a lot of small businesses that can't afford to pay very well. Many of their workers actually qualify for state aid because they don't earn enough to meet the poverty level. Do we really want to drive those workers away?

Mike Lachance's picture

Claire, you are 100% correct

Claire, you are 100% correct in that the mayor, be he Paradis, or Macdonald has no control over DHHS and MSHA policy. This is a state-level issue for sure. However, the mayor (and council, more-so) have alot of power to make things happen or make things stop happening here in Lewiston. If it isnt by laws, it can be by influence.

With all that, inaction attributable to "saving face" and maintaining a 'non-embarrasing image' equates to absolute uselessness. We dont need a mayor who does nothing but "look good" and say only the things deemed "media acceptable" by the over-sensitives among us.

It's long past time to get things changing in Lewiston. Paradis is nothing more than status quo. He has no goal. he has stated NO plan to change Lewiston anymore than Mayor Gilbert. Anyone can shake hands and smile alot. Something Mayor Gilbert prides himself on. But Lewiston needs more than a wal-mart greeter for mayor.

Macdonald is ready to shake things up. And thats precisely what Lewiston DOES need.



You are obviously a Macdonald supporter. Good for you. However, regardless of who any of us support there is one thing this city DOES need and that is a mayor who knows his job, can bring change, doesn't discriminate against an entire class of people, and has an attitude the allows people to want to work with him. I have yet to say anything about Mr. Paradis, but I guess maybe I should just to be fair. His views are certainly more of the same old same old and isn't what this city needs either. But, given that we only have two options at this point, he is the lesser of the two evils who isn't going to start a "class" war with his words. I do admire that Mr. Macdonald tries to "tell it like it is" but he is doing so without apparently having all the facts. If you want to stir up things then maybe you should have all your facts, be able to answer direct questions and not defer your answers because you don't have enough information. You should also know where you can best effect change and I think that what myself and Claire have said is that he is not suited for the job as mayor with his particular platform. The kind of change he wants would make him a better candidate for Augusta or Washington not Lewiston.

 's picture

lewiston wouldn't stand for

lewiston wouldn't stand for it. guaranteed.


Unfortunately, I was unable

Unfortunately, I was unable to watch the debate last night as I was busy helping my son with homework and being a parent. However, I did read the story and the chat from last night. There seems to be a lot of discussion involving welfare and section 8. There really didn't seem to be much on how to solve the problems this city is facing. Mr. Macdonald needs to walk a mile in my shoes or the shoes of anyone who is struggling to survive because there are no jobs here let alone jobs that are family friendly (by this I mean there are no jobs that work with families of special needs children...flexible scheduling, ability to miss work multiple days because of issues with the children). I will say that I do receive assistance because my son has medical, behavioral, and mental health issues due to a birth defect. It really bothers me that people lump all poor people into one group. Come walk a mile in my shoes. Do you really think I chose this way of life? Do you really think I wouldn't rather have a child who is healthy and not in constant need of help? Do you really think I enjoy having to be home to work with the professionals that come into my home to help my son and myself learn to overcome the obstacles he faces every day? Do you have a plan to bring business to Lewiston that will work with families like mine? Do you have a plan to bring child care to this city that will accept a child like mine? There are a few bad apples receiving assistance that give all of us a bad reputation and there always will be. But I noticed many commented on the anger Mr. Macdonald has as a driving force, and if you think anger is what this city needs then I have all the anger any one would want. I am angry that everything is put on the backs of the poor as if we choose to be poor. I am angry that my son has problems that he was born with (an no I have never done drugs that were not prescribed by a doctor). I am angry I have to battle every day just to get what Mainecare won't pay for. I am sorry that people misuse the system. I am sorry that some do not want to work. But I resent the fact that anyone would lump all poor people in one group. Not all of us receive assistance by choice but by necessity. Don't blame us but work with us to bring jobs to this city that would work with us and around our children.

Mike Lachance's picture

Tina, I returned to Maine to


I returned to Maine to work. I am not college educated, but after securing a job in Bangor, I packed up all my belongings and moved across the country on my own. I then found a job in Portland and this allowed me to move to Lewiston, from which i commuted to Old Port for over a year before once again finding a job here in Lewiston. Thats 3 jobs in 2 years all to get myself where i wanted to be. I have a family and found work in Lewiston. I am not rich. I have alot of debt (too much) and I pay taxes. I own my home, yet i bought atthe peak of the market, like many did, and am "stuck" for the time being. I work, work work. I have a day job and TWO side jobs and have incorporated to handle these side jobs. Not only do i pay normal taxes, i pay business taxes and PICA SS etc for my small business. All this and a 40 hr a week day job.

Why do I do all this? Itd be much simpler to quit everything and let the state pay. Why not? If youre so angry, (also) thats fine, but I can tell you first hand, that if you were in my shoes and saw the absolute freeloading going on in L-A you'd be much angrier.

Be angry, by all means, but direct it not at Macdonald, but at those who keep building the welfare machine bigger and bigger at the ever-increasing expense of those, like myself, who work their butts off every day of the week just to get by.

Macdonald is stating what needs to be stated. It isnt pretty. It isnt eloquent. and quite frankly, its the ugly truth we all have to deal with.

If you have a disability that prevents you from working, then by all means you deserve the helping hand. I, and Bob Macdonald have zero issue with such situations.

On top of all this, I assume you are a US citizen. We ned to help YOU first. Immigrants second, "visitors" third, and displaced refugees? well... they are special in that they are neither immigrants, visitors, or students. The doors opened wide in 1996 for refugees. They do not fall under the auspices of existing immigration law. It literally *IS* get off the bus and get an apartment, food, car, etc. No other group of "people" in the US have it this easy.

Why work? I'm a Mainer and I'm an American.



Although I agree with some of your comments there are some I would not agree with. If you look at those actually receiving assistance of some sort, the majority of the US citizens are NOT lazy and using the system as a way of life but as a means of survival. There is a small percentage that will abuse the system and I have no problem with stopping that abuse. However, when people make comments about subsidized housing, welfare, Section 8, and poor people they seem to group all of us together. If others have a problem with the few that abuse the system then state that. If others have a problem with "Immigrants", "visitors", and "displaced refugees" receiving assistance then state that. Do not put us all in one group. Mr. Macdonald appears to be angry with ALL who receive assistance in some form and that is NOT what this city needs. This city needs to be able to work as one to create solutions to the problems not create more rivalries. I agree the displace refugees are a large group receiving assistance, sometimes to the detriment of the US citizens. As I stated in previous comments, it took me 3 years to receive any housing assistance and where I moved to was 70% displaced refugees. I took my housing assistance and moved to another neighborhood where the majority of the residents are elderly, disabled, or young families trying to start their lives. There is much about my situation that I did not put into my earlier comment and I will not put it in here. The one thing I know is this, regardless of how I personally feel about welfare, housing assistance, and the situations of the "poor", it is my opinion that since Mr. Macdonald clearly cannot contain his anger and refers to the "poor" as "those people" he is clearly not the person this city needs to solve the problems. As well, the job description of the mayor has nothing to do with welfare reform and since the only thing I have heard from Mr. Macdonald is how he will change welfare in this city he obviously does not belong in local government. Maybe he would be better suited for Augusta or Washington if welfare is what he wishes to change. I just hope that if Mr. Macdonald does become mayor of this city that he doesn't hurt the programs for the people who really need the assistance, the elderly, the veterans, and the disabled not to mention the children of this city. Putting a moratorium on any type of housing assistance will directly impact this group of people. And if you allow this group to receive assistance then the other groups will use that great big "D" word that everyone is so scared of. Maybe a better way to create change is to fix our schools that are consistently failing to meet standards; maybe bringing businesses that actually pay a living wage to this city will change things; maybe stopping the blame game and creating a group that work as a TEAM would change things. The other thing I do know is this....UNTIL ANY PERSON WALKS A MILE IN MY SHOES OR AN ELDERLY PERSON'S SHOES THEN GROUPING US ALL IN THE GROUP BEING CALLED LAZY AND SYSTEM ABUSERS is NOT going to bring this city together and create change that will make this a place people are proud to live in and call HOME.

 's picture

so true. its annihilation.

so true. its annihilation.

 's picture

polling place

The ONE poling place in the city of Lewiston seems to be in the heart of the district containing those people that the Republican candidate most wants to put pressure on to move or have landlords be more responsible.

I sincerely doubt that Mr. Macdonald will do well as this area is generally populated by liberals and those on welfare.

One place for the whole city to vote is very limiting and requires that those who support Mr. Macdonald drive to this spot and vote.

I know it costs more to maintain the additional number of polling places, but I believe that the vote would be much closer and certainly represent a fairer balance of the Lewiston population than going to the heart of liberalism. I just don't see how the Republican candidate can win with the voting place stacked against him. At least the turnout at the debate was worthy and let's hope that that translates into people getting out there and voting. Please vote citizens of Lewiston. The city needs a large turn out to show that it believes in the process of voting for a candidate regardless whom it may be.

 's picture

Won't Matter

I watched the debate. I really don't think it matters where the polling takes place. I think the results are in already. Paradis by a landslide. My vote was already in the Paradis column, but hearing how Macdonald presented himself and hearing his penchant for the term "those people" only solidified my vote.

Mike Lachance's picture

Tony, It will be interesting

Tony, It will be interesting to say the least. However, your sentiments and prediction was shared by many (including myself) prior to the regular election a few weeks ago.

I'm a Macdonald supporter. I've spoken with him a number of times on the phone in the last 2 months. All I can say is... We'll see. It's gonna be something, whether Paradis takes it by a mile, or just squeeks by, or if, infact, the predictions were off once again, and Macdonald pulls the biggest upset in years.

We'll see.

GARY SAVARD's picture

Melissa, I agree that we need

Melissa, I agree that we need affordable housing units for seniors and others in need of assistance, but on the other hand, if Lewiston is to improve the urban core, we need to stop using subsidized apartments and entitlement programs as a tool to attract new residents to the City. There's a big difference between taking care of our own and taking care of anyone who can afford a bus ticket to Lewiston. Lewiston taxpayers can only afford so much, and then they pack up and move out and pay their taxes elsewhere if they can...and obviously, many can, because they have.

 's picture

it a false statement and fear

it a false statement and fear tactic classifying or blaming lewiston's issues on foreigners, new mainers, refugees, or people coming in from different states to relocate. majority of lewiston's residents were born and raised here. many of lewiston's residents are the working class. macdonald can not differentiate-nor can you or i who is or is not 'our own' or someone else-and who are we to say whos not entitled to fair and safe housing? everyONE is entitled to fair and safe housing. our grandmother's and grandfather's-mother's and father's-aunts and uncles... to the working class busting theirs and barely able to get their head above-lewiston has been neglected and ignored in the past for far too long-by those who were to be responsible for the city's well-being. probably because they have the misguided views similar to macdonald's that they want to place blame on new residents or people wanting entitlement programs. macdonald wants to stop using subsidized apartments because in his mind he thinks that the poverty will go away-or drive people in need out of the town-its called annihilation. there is something very wrong with this picture. the downtown had been ignored because of people like macdonald turning a blind eye and seeing it as an inconvenience when all lewiston needed was a code enforcement officer, for residents to be fully knowledgeable about their rights, for the people responsible to really care about the people and get jobs here-and putting funds where they need to be the most.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture the working class the working class busting theirs and barely able to get their head above-lewiston has been neglected and ignored in the past for far too long-by those who were to be responsible for the city's well-being."..
How many of Lewiston's mayors in the last 60 years have been democrats? How many republicans? Therein lies the answer of Lewiston's woes. democrat leadership at every level is what has this country reeling.

 's picture

lewiston is a whole!

lewiston residents deserve fair and equal opportunity housing. downtown residents working, low-income, and disabled deserve utmost respect and safer homes-we're not just some people taking up space. if you want a cleaner, safer lewiston then look at wherein the issues lie rather than being blind and continuing down the path where people who where to be responsible for this city have failed this town time and time again-with backwards thinking surely-just like macdonald. downtown lewiston residents and lewiston residents alike need to unite because we can not let this happen. this is a annihilation and segregation. macdonald wants to 'reform downtown housing'-well its called segregation-because someone has section8 or low-income housing when in fact many people on section8 or low-income housing are working-class citizens or disabled.

macdonald says "That just goes to show you how out of touch they are with the community that they serve."-ohh the irony! how can someone who use to work for the public be so much against us? lewiston is a whole-not part or number-or segregated. we can't be driven out of our homes nor will we allow it. i will not let my neighbor be driven out either.

paradis clearly has his wits about him and educated at that. he is for the people-that is exactly the person that lewiston needs.

GARY SAVARD's picture

We gave our City gravel pit

We gave our City gravel pit and other land we bought from abutters to Wal-Mart to get the distribution center here in addition to the TIF. While it's nice to have the facility and the jobs in Lewiston, it is not very pleasant to think that we pulled our pants down in order to lure the largest retailer in the world to Lewiston so that they could build a facility that they absolutely needed in order to keep making huge profits. Having the right location and the labor force to man the facility should have been the bones thrown at Wal-Mart along with the TIF, if necessary to finalize the deal, but our leaders of the day decided to give away the store instead. As for low income housing history tells us that "If you build it, they will come". The faces change, but the story stays the same. Upscale housing in our urban core will never happen until we eliminate some of the marginally livable units we have in the area and change the landscape in general.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Good post, Gary.

Good post, Gary.


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