LEWISTON — Both candidates for Ward 7 City Council want more public involvement in their decisions.

Councilor Mike Lachance said it’s the only way to keep politics from becoming too political.

“If people are not involved, letting the politicians do what they want and leaving them alone to do whatever they do, that’s what happens,” Lachance said. “The more residents get involved and the more they come down to City Hall, the less political the politicians can be. The people who voted for them are going to be right there, on top of them.”

Kristine Kittridge, who is hoping to unseat Lachance, said that’s the kind of councilor she wants to be.

“I want to be someone that the people who live in my ward know who I am and know how to get in touch with me,” Kittridge said. “I definitely want to be an accessible, down-to-earth and available-at-any-time, by-any-means-of-communication councilor for my neighbors. That’s the point of an elected official.”

Both said it’s time to look beyond the city’s demolition program.


“I think the city has done a lot to demolish unsafe properties, and I think it was important,” Kittridge said. “We also need to look at some other options. If there are options that can avoid being demolished, other solutions are possible.”

She wants to make owners more responsible to keep buildings safe before they need to be demolished.

Lachance said the demolition phase was just the first step to changing downtown housing.

“We can tear down buildings all day, but what do we replace them with?” Lachance asked. “And how do we make sure that what we replace them with does not become the same thing we’re having problems with today?”

Lachance’s answer is to get residents personally invested in properties.

“What I don’t want to see is just one guy with five LLCs own 25 buildings and trying to maintain them,” he said. “How can they ever keep up with all that?”


Kittridge said she hopes to focus on economic development, bringing in new taxpaying businesses to keep overall taxes down.

“I’ve heard the most from people that this year’s property tax increase hit them really hard,” she said. “People are already struggling. But I’ve also heard from people missing services that they depended on that were cut. So I’d really need to keep both in mind.”

Lachance said he sees mixed up priorities among councilors. The council’s current budget cut some services and saw taxes increase. It also saw the city set aside $340,000 for an Simard-Payne Memorial Park amphitheater.

“When we let people go and then build an amphitheater, you have to ask yourself how it balances out,” Lachance said.

He voted in favor of the budget, however, because it cut borrowing.

“And that’s not something that helps the city today, but it will years down the road,” he said.


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