AUBURN – Calling his write-in re-election a triumph of faith, Mayor John Jenkins was sworn in for his second term Tuesday night.

Jenkins, city councilors and School Committee members took their oaths of office in a ceremony at the Central Maine Community College’s Kirk Hall gymnasium.

Fresh from a surprising write-in campaign and win, Jenkins thanked the faith of his constituents.

“When citizens asked me to consider running for office, I kind of chuckled,” Jenkins said. “I said I was done; the papers hadn’t been filed; I’m ready to retire. But the folks persisted.”

Jenkins didn’t give the effort much of a chance, but agreed to serve if elected.

“I mean, let’s be real,” he said. “There’s a good chance it won’t work now. But the people said never doubt the power of faith, and when people believe, things do happen.”

That’s the kind of spirit Auburn residents need to going forward, he said. Quoting Margaret Mead, Jenkins appealed for their support.

“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world: Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,” Jenkins said.

He also outlined a series of programs aimed at making city government more open and transparent. That includes more ward meetings, a new citizens review committee to grade councilors and appointees, a budget oversight group and youth members to city boards. That will help train Auburn’s next generation of leaders.

“People say the children are our future,” he said. “Well, the future is now. Our children won’t magically get the skills of leadership at the age of 17 or 18 if we don’t teach them now. Also, some of the decisions we adults are making now will affect them later on. Should we listen, and invite them to participate?”

City councilors are Michael Farrell from Ward 1, Robert Hayes from Ward 2, Dan Herrick from Ward 3, Bruce Bickford from Ward 4, Ray Berube from Ward 5 and Bob Mennealy and Ron Potvin, at large.

School board members are Lane Feldman in Ward 1, Bonnie Hayes in Ward 2, Thomas Kendall in Ward 3, Jason Pawlina in Ward 4, Lawrence Pelletier in Ward 5 and Francois Bussiere and David Das, at large.

Das made a pitch for replacing the aging Edward Little High during his speech, the committee’s inaugural address.

Das almost didn’t run for re-election, saying his spirit for the job was low.

“Something was missing, and that was the belief that a school committee can make a difference,” Das said. Family and friends were not sure when he decided to seek another term and another two years dealing with politics, state budget mandates and other issues.

He talked about reading an article from the Lewiston Evening Journal from September 1961, marking the dedication of then new Edward Little High School. It was a huge community event, attended by at least 6,000 people.

That’s the kind of spirit Auburn needs today, Das said.

“We could actually carry out a major renovation of the existing facility,” Das said. “It would certainly require significant financial investment. It will also require great harnessing of community resources.”

Ward 2 Councilor Hayes said Das idea was worth discussing.

“Most universities depend on their alumni association for expansions and work,” Hayes said. “I don’t know that anybody has looked at a high school from that perspective before.”

Das said the School Committee was scheduled to meet today and would select a chairman then.

Attendance at the inaugural was sparser than in the past, possibly due to rescheduling the ceremony because of Monday’s storm.

Members of the New Auburn American Legion Post 153 Color Guard, scheduled to present the flag, Catholic priest the Rev. Frank Murray, who was to offer an invocation prayer, and the Auburn Middle School chorus were all unable to attend Tuesday night.

Ward 4 Councilor Bickford, sick with a stomach ailment, was also unable to attend.


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