LEWISTON — Mayoral candidate Mark Paradis' death Friday left plenty of questions about what would happen to next week's election.
Paradis, 59, died in the early afternoon at Central Maine Medical Center of complications from pneumonia — just five days before a runoff election between Paradis and Robert Macdonald.
Tuesday's vote will go on as scheduled, City Clerk Kathy Montejo said.
Friday afternoon, friends and supporters of Paradis' campaign gathered in Lewiston City Council chambers and urged voters to pick his name.
Paradis can't be mayor, but he can still win Tuesday's vote. His supporters Friday said that was their goal.
"Throughout his longtime public service and recent campaign, we shared many ideas and plans about Lewiston's future," City Councilor Renee Bernier said. "As such, I can think of no better way for residents to honor him than by supporting his vision for leadership at the polls."
A Macdonald victory would make him the new mayor, and he'd be sworn in with the City Council and School Committee on Jan. 3.
But a Paradis victory Tuesday would reset the mayoral election, according to Montejo. The seat would be declared vacant and the city would schedule a new vote. Any registered Lewiston voter could apply to be on the ballot.
"I think (Paradis) was the best candidate for the city of Lewiston," Mayor Larry Gilbert said. "He and only he would have been the best candidate. So I would like to see the process continue beyond Tuesday, and that's why I'm urging citizens to vote for him."
Campaign manager Michael Dumas said he would be at the polls Tuesday representing Paradis. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Multi-Purpose Center gym, 145 Birch St. It will be the only polling place.
Paradis announced Wednesday that he had been diagnosed with cancer soon after the Nov. 8 vote. He had started radiation treatments but said doctors thought he would be healthy enough to serve at least one term as mayor.
His campaign was continuing, Paradis said Wednesday, and he hoped voters would choose him.
"With cancer, or without cancer, I am the right person to lead this city," Paradis said Wednesday. "I refuse to let cancer dictate my life to me."
Dumas said Paradis was admitted to CMMC Thursday night. Dumas learned of the candidate's illness Friday morning, and the Lewiston City Clerk's office was alerted.
Campaign members and friends declined to say what kind of cancer Paradis had or to give any details about his diagnosis.
Instead, they focused on his legacy.
"His passion for the city of Lewiston was always equaled by his passion for life and his love of his family and friends," Bernier said. "His personality was good-natured, always answering, 'The best, always the best' when asked how he was doing."
Paradis had a 14-year history in Lewiston government, joining the Planning Board in 1997. He served four years on that board, then ran for and won the Ward 6 City Council seat in 2002. He stepped down from the seat in 2007.
He ran for mayor in 2009, losing to Larry Gilbert, who appointed Paradis to serve on the city's Finance Committee.
"I knew of his dedication to the city," Gilbert said. "He served with distinction, total dedication and from the heart and from his conscience. That's the type of man Mark Paradis was. That's why I still urge people to vote for him."
Former Lewiston City Councilor and Finance Committee member Stavros Mendros said Paradis was a good colleague.
"We didn't always agree, but he was always a gentleman about it," Mendros said. "He was the rare kind of politician that you could disagree with and still like. And he had a sincere love for the city. That was apparent every time you spoke to him."
Outgoing Ward 7 Councilor Stephen Morgan said he remained a supporter of Paradis.
"I already voted for him," Morgan said.
Paradis and Macdonald were the top two vote-getters in a field of five in November's municipal election, Paradis with 32 percent of the vote and Macdonald with 31 percent. Lewiston rules require the mayor to win by a majority of votes — at least 50 percent, plus one vote. Since neither did, the runoff election was set.
Macdonald could not be reached for comment Friday.