LEWISTON — The field of five mayoral candidates will square off Monday, Oct. 5, at a live public forum hosted by the Sun Journal and the Lewiston Public Library.

The candidates are Mayor Robert Macdonald and challengers Luke Jensen, Ben Chin, Stephen Morgan and Charles Soule.

The forum is the first of two opportunities for Lewiston voters to meet the candidates this fall.

The event is scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Callahan Hall, upstairs in the Lewiston Public Library. A live video feed of the debate will be shown on www.sunjournal.com.

Sunjournal.com will also host a live blog during the debate where users can discuss the debate as it unfolds.

Voters will go to the polls to elect a mayor Tuesday, Nov. 3.

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“This debate offers a chance for voters to ask questions and to hear directly from the candidates,” Rex Rhoades, executive editor of the Sun Journal, said.

Macdonald, a retired Lewiston police detective, has been mayor since January 2012. During his time in office, he has cracked down on welfare fraud and pushed for what he calls “long overdue welfare reform.”

He supports the continued demolition of abandoned and condemned buildings to make way for improved housing. “The working poor need decent housing, they are the cogs that keep any city running,” he said.

And, he said, since “one blighted neighborhood will overshadow 10 vibrant neighborhoods,” improving the housing stock will help improve the city’s reputation.

Macdonald has also been vocal about rising special education costs in city schools, and has praised school administrators for keeping costs down as much as possible. But, he said, spending $17 million for special education out of a $60 million total budget is disproportionate.

In addition to welfare reform, some of the biggest issues now facing city leaders are conflicts over who should be eligible for General Assistance and for how long, how to better improve economic development in the downtown, and improving the cost for trash removal, including a controversial pay-to-throw option.

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One of the major topics of this year’s election is the condition of the city’s housing stock, a topic that candidate Chin has claimed as his major platform.

Chin, political director of the Maine People’s Alliance, has called out three landlords as “slumlords” and does not believe enough is being done to improve the city’s housing. “It’s time to raise our standards,” he said. “We need new ideas and new energy in city hall.”

He believes the city has not been aggressive enough about getting a greater share of state funding. “Wealthy Mainers have had their taxes lowered twice in the last four years,” he said, pledging that “When I’m mayor, I want to lead the charge in getting our money back.”

Jenson, an employee of TD Bank, is the former chairman of the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council.

He is seeking the mayoral seat because “we absolutely need to make Lewiston a city where our young people want to stay and invest in the community, which will in turn make Lewiston a more attractive place for young individuals and families.”

If elected, he intends to focus more resources in the police and fire departments, saying “public safety will be my top priority once sworn into office . . . especially considering the growing use of heroin in our community and state as a whole.”

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And, as with the other candidates, Jensen would like to see the city’s housing stock improve. “I’d like to see less low-income housing downtown, and more options for young professionals who would enjoy living in a newly revitalized part of the city.”

Morgan, a Realtor and former city councilor and former Planning Board member, has served the greatest number of years in public office of any of the candidates.

He also supports greater investment in public safety, and said his experience in real estate gives him an edge with economic development issues, which he feels are particularly important around Exit 80, the Bates Mill buildings and the riverfront. Luring more development to these areas, he points out, will raise the city’s tax base and provide the means for better city services.

Morgan’s focus would also be improving city schools and roads. In considering housing issues, he said, “finding a fix-all answer to this has to be a mix of tenants, landlords, and code enforcement working together to come to agreeable solutions.”

Soule, a veteran who graduated from Edward Little High School, is a regular on the municipal mayoral ballot. He declined to answer the Sun Journal’s candidate questionnaire, but on his personal blog he says he feels called to run for public office.

He is a regular attendee at City Council meetings in Auburn and Lewiston, and also regularly attends School Committee meetings to challenge budget decisions.

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During the debate, each candidate will get 90 seconds for opening presentations, followed by a question and answer session. Each will take turns answering questions from the moderator and from the audience. Each candidate will be given 45 seconds; opponents will get 30 seconds to reply or rebut.

Finally, each candidate will get one minute to make closing statements.

Voters may email their questions to [email protected], with “mayor debate” in the subject line, to have them included in the forum. Questions may also be submitted by postal mail to Sun Journal, Mayor Debate, 104 Park St., Lewiston, ME 04243.

In addition to the mayoral election on Nov. 3, voters in Lewiston and Auburn will elect City Council and School Committee members.

All Lewiston candidates are invited to a forum sponsored by the Young Professionals of Lewiston Auburn at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, at City Hall. There will be questions developed by YPLAA and time for audience questions. #YPLAACandidCandidates

[email protected]

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No SJ Auburn mayoral debate 

AUBURN —The Sun Journal will not host a debate for Auburn’s mayoral candidates after one of the candidates, Peter Letourneau, declined to participate.

Mayor Jonathan LaBonte agreed to participate but Letourneau declined, citing his personal dislike of his opponent.

Both candidates are expected to take part in a forum for all city candidates hosted by YPLAA, the Young Professionals of Lewiston and Auburn.

YPLAA will host its forum for Auburn mayoral, City Council and School Committee candidates at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 20, in Auburn Hall.


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