Voters on Tuesday selected four men and two women to begin working right away on a plan to combine Lewiston and Auburn into one city.

Auburn voters selected Chip Morrison, Michael Beaulieu and Holly Lasagna to represent the city on a commission that will draft a charter to combine the Twin Cities.

Lewiston voters selected Eugene Geiger, Lucien Gosselin and Chantel Pettengill to be their representatives to the commission.

The commissioners will begin meeting to consider how to best combine the Twin Cities’ governments into a single municipality. They have no deadline but must draft a new charter combining services, come up with a name for the new city and decide where the city offices will be located.

“It has been hard getting to this point, but the real hard work begins tomorrow morning,” Commissioner-elect Lasagna said.

Lewiston-Auburn voters will vote on whatever plan the commission proposes. If a majority of either city votes no, the charter fails, and the current governments continue operating as they do now.

If both cities agree, the current cities have two years to wrap up their business.

Chip Morrison, the top vote-getter in Auburn, said the new group has few guidelines or rules to follow and no budget. He wasn’t even sure whether the group will have to be sworn in by the city clerks before beginning their official duties.

“Everyone here is local, so I think we’ll have an opportunity to get together soon,” he said. “I don’t know if there is an official step before we start or if there will be a ballot inspection.”

Morrison said the first order of business would be figuring out the rules.

“There’s a lot of work, not a lot of guidelines — and not a lot of resources,” Morrison said. “We have no budget, and if I have my way, we won’t ask the municipalities for support. I think people will donate to support the work of the commission.”

Many voters interviewed at the polls Tuesday said they simply will wait and see what happens next.

“I have to wait,” said Arthur Collins of Blanchette Street in Lewiston. “I need to wait and see what they come up with.”

Karl Collier of Sunderland Drive in Auburn said the group needs to take its time.

“I’d tell them not to rush into things just for the sake of consolidating and becoming this big, grand city,” Collier said. “Both cities have their own budgetary problems that might become worse by combining them together.”

Dorothy Kern of Auburn said she would tell the commission to focus on solving what needs to be solved and to hold back on being too proud. “I think they want to make things more efficient, doing what needs to be done by sharing,” she said.

Some were skeptical. Brian Demers of Riverside Drive in Auburn said he’d counsel the commissioners to just quit now and not bother writing a new charter.

“People think that somehow it will save money and make Auburn-Lewiston have more influence in the state; that’s not going to happen,” Demers said. “Look at Portland: a big city, but their taxes are just out of control.”

Sayid Hassan of Lewiston said he was opposed to combining the cities.

“It’s not a good idea,” he said. “It’s better to have diversity.”

Raymond L. Gagnon of Webster Street agreed. He’s not in favor of combining the cities. He’d have to be convinced it could work.

“I’d tell them to get together on reducing spending and not just finding more money,” he said. “It seems to me there’s too much work trying to increase the budget. They need to figure out how to save money.”

But Joe DeFilipp of Prospect Avenue in Auburn said he thinks it could work.

“There are efficiencies that can be gained,” DeFilipp said. “But you have to be cognizant that there are structures in place that need to be balanced. People are going to criticize, and say ‘Ah, you’re slighting Lewiston or Auburn.’ They need to deal with that up front and they can get it done. Be fair; that’s all.”

Paulette Crowley of Webber Avenue said she was confident it could work.

“We’re known as one entity now, anyway,” she said. “If you go to Portland, people think of Lewiston-Auburn, not Lewiston or Auburn.”

Follow the will of the people, Anita Denis of Amethyst Circle in Auburn said. “What they are hearing from Lewiston-Auburn residents, they need to do what we want.”

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Lewiston-Auburn Charter Commission Unofficial Results

Auburn

Chip Morrison, 1,301

Michael Beaulieu, 1,255

Holly Lasagna, 1,048

Verne Paradie, 1,042

Alfreda Fournier, 852

John T. Spruill Jr., 565

Source: Auburn City Clerk

Lewiston

Eugene G. Geiger, 1,612

Lucien B. Gosselin, 1,428

Chantel R. Pettengill, 987

Richard A. Grandmaison, 941

David B. Chittim, 571

Charles A. Soule, 316

Source: Lewiston City Clerk


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