Name: Kristen Cloutier
Office sought: Lewiston City Council, Ward 5.
Occupation: assistant director of Center Operations at the Harward Center for Community Partnerships at Bates College.
Education: Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Northeastern University, 1997; Master of Arts in leadership studies from the University of Southern Maine, 2009.
Family: married to Denny Bourgoin; daughter Ridley Bourgoin, 8.
Political experience: two terms as Ward 5 Lewiston city councilor; one term as Lewiston City Council president; 1.5 terms as Lewiston City Council representative to the School Committee.
1. Why do you think you’re the most qualified, or best candidate for this seat?
As the president of the Lewiston City Council representing Ward 5, I have been a fierce advocate for our residents. I have worked hard to keep property taxes down while supporting economic development and job creation, increase pedestrian and transportation safety, develop new and healthier housing options, and develop strategies to address our high rates of childhood lead poisoning. I want to make sure that we continue to create a community that supports economic development and provides a safe, affordable, healthy, and engaging place for people to raise their families and live their lives.
2. What do you believe is the biggest issue facing your city? Why?
We must continue the fight to get the residents of Lewiston their fair share from Augusta and beyond. In order to maintain the quality of life that each of us values so deeply, we must continue the difficult, collaborative work to maintain services, and to make strategic investments with minimal increases to property taxes. We must also continue to provide safe, affordable, and healthy housing options for everyone, including work around lead poisoning prevention and thinking creatively with property owners, residents, and developers about new, more welcoming housing in many of our historical downtown properties.
3. What do you like about the city budget passed this year, and what don’t you like?
I like that the City Council worked together to make solid and smart investments, while at the same time searching for efficiencies. I did not like that we were unable to put more resources toward things like the basic maintenance of our roads and implementation of our comprehensive plan, and I was disappointed in our decision to charge an entrance fee for use of the pool at Kennedy Park. While the community came together to correct that wrong, we need to take a closer look at how we can reinstate use of the pool for free in future budgets.
4. What is the best way for your city to boost economic development and its attraction to people from outside the region?
We must work together to instill pride in current residents, attract new residents, and enact a plan for future economic development, both large and small. Expansion of the arts, as well as cultural and recreational opportunities will improve the quality of life for everyone. In addition to housing, streets are a vital part of livable, attractive communities, and we must do our best to provide safe, comfortable, and convenient transportation to our community destinations and public places. Lastly, our children deserve a high-quality education. After all, they are our future workforce.
5. Do you support the merger of Lewiston and Auburn?
I believe it is the potential of the Lewiston-Auburn community that is at stake, and because of that, I will vote in favor of the merger. However, my vote is no more or less important than anyone else’s, and I understand the emotion that this question stirs in the residents of our community. The residents of Lewiston and Auburn deserve a local government that is comprised of individuals that will respect the will of the voters, upholding the interests of their respective cities, while continuing to collaborate with the other. I am committed to that collaboration.