Merger referendum brings out voters in Lewiston and Auburn

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Voters interviewed during the first half of Election Day said one reason they came out was to cast their votes on the proposal to consolidate Lewiston and Auburn.

“I’m not for the merger,” said longtime Lewiston resident Noella Breton. “We’re doing enough with Auburn already. We don’t need to go through this. Lewiston is Lewiston; Auburn is Auburn.”

Jeannine Potvin of Lewiston agreed.

“I voted no,” she said. “We don’t want the name changed. We want to leave it the way it is. It’s all the big shots that’s for the merger.”

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Ridwan Ali of Lewiston said he voted for the merger. He’d like to see the two communities become one city.

Said Mohamud also voted yes to “support the consolidation of Lewiston and Auburn.”

In Auburn, Elaine Bilodeau said she voted against the merger.

“I’ve lived in Auburn for 30 years,” she said. “I like it the way it is.” If the two cities got together, she predicted one would take over. “It’s not worth it. You get each other’s problems.”

Mike Parkin of Auburn also voted no. “I’m against globalization whether it’s regional, local or international.” As far as economics, there’s not a lot of savings to be had “by standardizing everything,” he said.

City clerks in both cities said voter turnout was steady but slower than expected. “It’s not crazy,” said Auburn City Clerk Susan Clements-Dallaire. About 11 percent of voters voted early, she said. There were no lines, but voting was steady.

It was steady also in Lewiston, City Clerk Kathy Montejo said. “We expected a very large turnout due to the issue on the local ballot, but it probably will pick up closer to dinnertime, because it always does.”

Another ballot decision on voters’ minds was a casino in York County.

Elaine Bilodeau of Lewiston said she voted for the casino for one reason: jobs.

Barbara Dubois of Lewiston said she voted no. “It would hurt Oxford with all the money they’ve put in expanding with the hotel.”

Lisa Roy of Auburn also voted against the casino question.

“The demographics of this state can’t support another casino,” she said, adding that there’s a saturation limit to casinos in Maine. “And, on a personal level I don’t believe in it.”

In the Auburn mayor’s race, Mike Parkin said he voted for Jason Levesque.

In Lewiston, Jeannine Potvin said she voted for Mark Cayer for mayor.

“He’s got experience,” she said. “I always watch the City Council every week. I always thought he should be the mayor instead of a councilor.”

Said Mohamud said he was out to vote for Ben Chin for mayor of Lewiston.

Mohamud said he was also at the polls to help voters from the immigrant community.

“Many of them speak English but don’t understand the way of voting,” Mohamud said. “We are assisting them. I am here for our community.”

Lewiston has about 2,500 eligible voters in the Somali community, according to Rilwan Osman, executive director of Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services.

Ridwan Ali, 18, who said he was excited to vote, was voting for the first time. He became a citizen two years ago.

bwashuk@sunjournal.com

Jon Pitman casts his ballot at the Lewiston Memorial Armory on Tuesday. Pitman’s grandchildren, Kazuchi and Ayana Suzuki, came with him to vote. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Lewiston residents cast their vote at the Lewiston Memorial Armory on Tuesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

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  • bob Mennealy

    Vote no on the merger, its an idea favored by a few elitists, not regular citizens,a bad idea!