AUBURN — Supporters of the Lewiston-Auburn Charter Commission won the support of the Auburn City Council narrowly Monday night, but resident Joe Gray promised to take it away as quickly as possible.

Councilors Monday reconsidered their June 2 vote on support for commission’s process. The charter commission needs both Lewiston and Auburn City Councils to support that resolution to qualify for an offer of matching money from Gov. Paul LePage.

The June 2 vote ended in a 3-3 tie that Mayor Jonathan LaBonte refused to break. Councilor Adam Lee, who voted against the measure June 2, moved to put it back on the table Monday. And with Councilor Tizz Crowley — who argued against the measure previously — missing Monday’s meeting and supporter Robert Hayes in his chair, the measure passed 4-2. Hayes was absent from the June 2 meeting.

Resident Gray, of Sopers Mill Road, said he and four other residents would take out petitions aimed at overturning the council’s support.

“The whole way this has been handled and the fact that I don’t think the governor should pay any cent of our money for this project, I want this to stop,” Gray said. “I think your actions tonight and two weeks ago just muddied the water and should show the governor that you do not have the support in the cities.”

Lewiston councilors should vote on whether they support the commission’s work at Tuesday’s meeting.


Charter members said the group could spend up to $100,000 in legal and financial consultant fees as they begin drafting a legal document designed to combine the two cities into one. Whatever the group comes up with will have to be approved by voters in each city independently.

Group members have said they will not ask either city for funding. So far, the group has raised $14,000 from residents and local businesses and has commitments for another $10,000. Member Holly Lasagna and Auburn resident and former mayor Dick Gleason met with Gov. LePage and he offered to match what they could raise, up to $50,000 over two years.

Councilors Leroy Walker and Belinda Gerry both voted against the resolve; Lee, Hayes and Councilors Mary Lafontaine and David Young voted for it.

But it wasn’t the vote so much as the politics surrounding it that was notable. When Lee tried to bring the matter up for a new vote Monday, Mayor LaBonte cited a rarely used clause in council procedures saying the council needed a two-thirds majority to reconsider. Lee countered that the rule was not used when charter foes rushed the resolve to a vote June 2 and argued that vote was invalid. He suggested putting the matter to a vote at the first meeting in July, but Councilors Walker and Gerry moved to put it on Monday night’s agenda.

After the vote, LaBonte said the entire matter was proof that the charter commission and its supporters were not being honest or transparent.

“The reality is, this is a fundraising effort for the campaign to merge the cities, not an effort to look in an open way about how Lewiston and Auburn might merge and what models might be possible to do that,” LaBonte said.

Lafontaine disagreed, saying the resolve did not support the charter’s conclusion, just the process.

“Without the information, we can’t make a good decision,” she said. “Clearly, emotion has led the conversation more than factual data tonight. I’d ask that people have all the information, reported accurately, rather then some information and expanded false information.”

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