L-A 101 course seeks to demystify Twin Cities government


LEWISTON — A 10-week civic refresher course will attempt to dispel some of the mystique associated with approaching the City Council, applying for city permits or drafting a good letter to the editor.

“We mix civic leadership training with in-depth question and answer, tours and conversations with leaders of each of these agencies,” said Nicola Wells, local organizer for the Lewiston-Auburn chapter of the League of Young Voters.

The series, Lewiston-Auburn 101, will run for 10 Wednesdays beginning Feb. 29. 

Sessions will cover meeting with city councils and city staff, talking with the Police Department and learning how economic development and zoning, social services, public works and school departments operate.

“We talk to people all the time who see a public decision but have no idea about how it reached that outcome,” Wells said. “What we want to do is put those people right in front of both the decision-makers and the people who will implement the decision.”

Another session will discuss writing letters to the editor and speaking at City Hall.

The sessions are open to anyone. The program costs $15, which pays for food and photocopies. Information and an application are available at the league’s website, www.youngvoter.org/maine/la101. Registration is open until Feb. 27.

The league began offering a similar course in Portland two years ago, and the sessions have been well-attended.

Meetings will move around the community. Some will be held at Lewiston City Hall, others at Auburn Hall. The April 25 session to discuss Public Works is scheduled to take place at Auburn Public Works’ shops and equipment barn on Gracelawn Road.

“We are going in to meet the workers and look at the machinery and all the equipment,” Wells said.

Local officials have said they are very willing to participate. So far, Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonte, Lewiston Mayor Bob Macdonald and Lewiston City Administrator Ed Barrett have said they plan to participate. Officers and chiefs from both police departments also will take part, and the session on economic development will include representatives from the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council.

“They’re really excited about this, too,” Wells said. “They really want to share their viewpoint with the citizens. There’s a lot of goodwill there, and they want to build more public relationships to help Lewiston-Auburn work better.”

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