There’s been enough talk about making the L-A community whole; it is high time for action.

In 1996, I was a member of a transformative initiative – L/A Together. It was the creation of Lewiston Mayor John Jenkins and Auburn Mayor Robert Thorpe. L/A Together was very successful, and we created a report that made recommendations to better serve our citizens financially and in all aspects of a vibrant, growing community.

Recent rhetoric from local elected officials against working together is counterintuitive, in the face of unrelenting proof that together the cities are stronger and better, more than the sum of their parts. Some of those effects are not quantifiable – community spirit, pride, courage to take risks and an unprecedented participation by citizens in the service of the community.

I appeal to the citizenship and the stewardship residents have, like it or not, to pass on to their children, and their children’s children, a better community than we inherited. We owe it also to those whose shoulders we stand on, their sweat, their tears and the undying hope that what they left us – this community – would be better than they found it. They did.

We must be good stewards of this legacy.

The city councils and other officials who have refused since then to act proactively to secure that union represent an abdication of morals to honor the voice of the community. It lacks courage and vision and is an injustice to the citizens of our one community. I faced that tenacious resistance the entire four years I was in office. And I have yet to understand the fear of becoming one unit – one community where all are welcome (and yes, it is fear hidden under artificially created barriers).

But I do still have a dream. I am “we” confident.

Shocking and disappointing are the words and actions of Auburn Mayor John Jenkins. This is a man who has stated endlessly, “There is no ‘I’ in team,” a man who not only has been mayor of both cities, but a member of the Legislature, as well.

For him to blame the councils is passing the buck. Who, of all the elected officials at this time, has had the most time, influence and resources to move this forward? To blame it on the council avoids accountability. He, and they, chose to cut and run, at a time in the country’s history when only together will get us through.

It is time to act.

What happens to Team L/A? Who is going to do the heavy lifting?

The rhetoric of “apart” rather than together has been going on for some time – the response from the community has been a deafening silence. Why?

Economic crises and the effect on our families has us focused on other urgent, and perhaps frightening, issues. That is understandable. However, as citizens, are we willing to leave a legacy of tearing apart versus a strong community joined together?

Are we even paying attention?

We became experts at “togetherness” and an example for other communities around the state and the nation to emulate. We became leaders. We were productive, creating, building and working together, tearing down the walls of mistrust and separation that plagued us and restricted our development. We collectively embraced the idea of a Community of Excellence.

Our economy was strong, our spirit and culture were being celebrated as we continued to strive to become that community. We were proud to be from L-A. Now, once again, the state is watching us come apart against each other – bickering our way down by government pettiness and unprofessionalism – and being led down the slippery slope of destruction.

Stop the talking and planning and act … now. We entrusted our dream of an excellent communityto our leaders. It is a time for boldness and courage – to fulfill the vision we entrusted to them. Where is the courage?

Right now we need a leader who inspires the people – bold, brave, strong leadership and something to believe in – to have hope. Do we believe our community is in safe keeping and is on a path of continued growth and prosperity?

We should demand more for our children and their children. This is our legacy to them.

Ask yourself this: Right now, does it make you proud?

Really? Does it?

Kaileigh A. Tara is a former mayor of Lewiston.


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