Lewiston mayor’s race: Potvin in, Bouchard announces, Gillespie out

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LEWISTON — With less than a week until nomination papers are due back to the City Clerk’s office, the final field of candidates for mayor is coming together.

Ron Potvin, who announced his campaign in March, was officially added to the ballot Wednesday after the required voter signatures were verified.

Potvin joins a list of candidates that is seemingly changing by the hour.

Late Wednesday, City Councilor Shane Bouchard announced a bid for mayor, following months of being undecided over whether to seek re-election for City Council.

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On Thursday, Donna Gillespie, who had announced intentions to run for mayor just two weeks ago, told the Sun Journal that she will instead run for City Council in Ward 2. It’s the first time she’s run for any elected office.

“I think that my knowledge and skills would serve the people of Lewiston better in this capacity,” she said, adding that she already pulled papers for Ward 2.

Candidates for all open municipal seats have until 4:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, to return papers. Also on the ballot for mayor will be Charles Soule, Ben Chin and Mark Cayer. Chin and Cayer have been active on social media and have hosted campaign events. Earlier this week, Chin rolled out a proposal that would reform Lewiston’s General Assistance program.

Ron Potvin (Contributed Photo)

Potvin said Thursday that he’s confident he’s connecting with the residents of Lewiston. He’s been an active part of the campaign against the proposed merger of Lewiston and Auburn, but says he’s now turning more of his focus on his mayoral campaign.

He said he’s been a little surprised by the amount of support he’s hearing for some of his more “extreme ideas,” like razing much of the downtown housing stock, as well as Bates Mill No. 5, and creating a joint long-term rehabilitation program between the city and health care organizations, which he believes will curb crime and drug activity.

He admitted they may be costly ideas that require more long-term planning. But, he says Lewiston residents are “fed up with inaction” from local officials.

Potvin works as a corrections officer for the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office and was involved in Auburn politics prior to moving to Lewiston in 2014.

On Wednesday, Bouchard said he had the 100 required signatures verified just one day after pulling papers. In a written statement, he said, “It’s certainly a testament to the energy behind this campaign,” and added, “but as the day progressed it became quite apparent that voters across Lewiston were happy that there was finally a conservative in the race.”

While Potvin said he was a member of the Republican party for 40 years, he said some of his ideas don’t mesh with a typical conservative platform. He said he believes local Republicans are looking to Bouchard as a replacement for Mayor Bob Macdonald, who after six years his reached his term limit.

In his statement Wednesday, Bouchard said, “I need to be able to work with elected officials from both sides of the aisle to make sure our city is in the best possible position to succeed. My record on the City Council shows a clear ability to adapt, negotiate and refine positions, work to find common ground and ultimately make the best decisions for the taxpayer without compromising core conservative values.”

In March, Potvin told the Sun Journal that he has “a different vision than what Lewiston is used to.”

The election is Tuesday, Nov. 7.

arice@sunjournal.com

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