LEWISTON — Don Robitaille sat alone at the front of a basement room in the Franco-American Heritage Center on Wednesday night, reading some candidate campaign literature and longing for a debate.

“I didn’t realize what this was going to be, and I might not
have come if I’d have known,” said Robitaille, a resident of Greene Road in Lewiston.

The event was an opportunity for candidates for City Councils and mayors of Lewiston and Auburn to meet with voters.

A regular watcher of City Council politics, Robitaille said he came to the Candid Candidate forum hoping to hear some distinguish themselves from others. But instead of a podium for candidates to approach, there were tables of food and a wireless microphone.

Chamber of Commerce President Chip Morrison walked around the room introducing each candidate. Then, he gave them the microphone and 90 seconds to make their case.

After each of the 21 candidates had introduced themselves and outlined their positions, they went back to mingling and talking with the occasional voter.

The effect was more like a trade show, with the candidates arranged around the room, shaking hands and passing out brochures.

There was no debate, but candidates did try to point out their differences. Auburn Councilor Bob Mennealy made the pitch for putting him and the rest of the sitting councilors on the ballot back in office. Mennealy is one of five people  seeking two at-large seats.

“I cannot imagine why anyone would want to change anyone on the present council,” Mennealy said. “We have lowered taxes for the last two years. We had a city manager issue which has been dealt with favorably, so I’m very proud to have been part of this last council.”

Across the room, Lewiston Ward 2 candidate Don D’Auteuil made the case for replacing the councilors in his city.

“One of the main reasons I decided to run is just watching City Council meetings on TV,” D’Auteuil said. “Basically, it was embarrassing to the city. When it gets to be better than prime time TV, you know you have to do something.”

It’s what the chamber and the Young Professionals of the Lewiston-Auburn Area were after — a less formal introduction for candidates and voters alike.

“At one time, when the cities’ elections were in different years, we could do televised forums,” Morrison said. “But there’s not time to do that any more. There’s just too many candidates. So we’re doing this instead.”

It worked well, Morrison said. 

“We decided we wanted to put the candidates for both cities together, to show that they should be working together,” Morrison said. “It gives us the opportunity to see all the candidates and let them talk a little bit about their vision.”

Voters in both cities are scheduled to go to the polls to select new councilors and mayors on Nov. 3.

[email protected]

Lewiston mayoral candidate Mark Paradis talks with Rick Morris on Wednesday night at the Candid Candidates forum in the basement of the
Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston. The event, sponsored by the
Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce, brought 21 candidates for the City Councils and mayors of Lewiston and Auburn for a chance to meet voters.

Auburn Ward 1 Councilor Mike Farrell talks with Joshua Klein-Golden and at-large candidate Eric Samson Wednesday night at the Candid Candidates forum in the basement of the
Franco-American Heritage Center. The event, sponsored by the
Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce, brought 21 candidates for the City Councils and mayors of Lewiston and Auburn for a chance to meet voters.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.