LEWISTON — Despite their political differences, the candidates for the Ward 1 City Council seat can agree on a few things.

Councilor Leslie Dubois and challenger Jim Lysen agree it’s time to move beyond the downtown tenement demolition and bring in new housing developments.

“We’ve been aggressive with demolitions, but it’s time to get it started again,” Dubois said. “I don’t know what we need to do, but if someone has a good plan, I’m willing to listen.”

And both agree that the state needs to open up its coffers to the cities, especially where revenue sharing is concerned.

“We create crises at the state level which trickle down to the local level and we say we can’t afford it,” Lysen said. “It pits poor people against one another. We give tax breaks to the wealthy and then say we can’t afford to do what we need to do.”

But it’s in the details where they disagree. Lysen sees himself as a counterbalance to conservatives on the City Council and in the mayor’s chair.


“We need a council that works together and with the administration, and avoid the divisiveness that’s been there,” Lysen said. “Hopefully, we can get a new mayor and some progressive voices on the council that can work together and really solve the issues of Lewiston.”

As for housing, Lysen said Lewiston needs to act earlier and avoid demolishing more buildings. He is a former city employee and was the planning director until 2006. He’d like to see his old department beefed up, which would help downtown’s housing stock.

“The problem is we get the buildings after they’ve been worn down, after they’ve been milked dry,” Lysen said. “Taking buildings down should be the last resort. If Code Enforcement has the resources, they can do more housing inspections. When they don’t do the inspections, that leads to problems and ultimately to having to take buildings down.”

Dubois said she’s against big government and favors private development.

Dubois voted against Phyllis St. Laurent’s first plan to build 56 housing units to replace those lost in a 2013 fire, but said she supports it now that there is less city involvement. She said she also supports efforts to bring housing cooperatives to the city.

She would like to bring more retail and manufacturing into the city.


“We need to create those jobs,” she said. “I believe our Turnpike could look just like the ones in Augusta, with retail and shops. We have all that land out there, and I’d like to see that. And if someone has a plan to bring in manufacturing, I’d like to see that, too.”

Overall, Lysen wants the City Council to be more open and welcoming to the public and to criticism. Dubois may not have been personally rude to anyone but Lysen said she’s allowed the mayor and other councilors to act that way.

“She could speak up if people are not being treated with respect, but she hasn’t,” he said. “I think we need to bring that dignity back and create a more professional atmosphere. I just have not liked the way meetings have been run and I think city councilors allow that to happen.”


Election guide

Learn about more candidates and issues in our Election 2015 guide on www.sunjournal.com/election/2015.

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