LEWISTON — Campaign spending by Lewiston city councilors may not be keeping the pace set in the race for the mayor’s seat, but it’s much higher than in years past.

Candidates for the seven open seats have collected $9,469 in donations for the seats — 2.3 times more than all candidates collected two years ago.

And the candidates who have had the most to spend this year have one thing in common: support from mayoral candidate Ben Chin and the Maine People’s Alliance.

The MPA has donated $1,400 to four candidates — Jim Lysen, Ward 1; Isobel Moiles, Ward 3; incumbent Kristen Cloutier, Ward 5; and Kristine Kittridge, Ward 7. Chin has donated another $100 personally to three of those candidates, Moiles, Cloutier and Kittredge.

Chin, who works as the political director for the MPA, said money is a small part of the support the group is offering to City Council candidates.

“I don’t think we are going to do anything negative,” he said. “But for the people who are getting out there and talking about the issues in a supportive way, we want to have their back.”

Chin’s campaign has raised a $63,329 in his bid to become Lewiston’s next mayor, nine times more than both Larry Gilbert and Robert Macdonald raised in their campaigns for the job in 2013.

Rival mayoral candidate Steve Morgan has raised the second most, $9,170, which is still far more than the $6,900 raised for his 2013 campaign.

Gen Lysen, lead organizer for the Lewiston branch of the MPA, said it’s been a change for the group.

“For the Maine People’s Alliance, getting money out of politics is something we’ve been working on for years,” Lysen said. “But we also are operating in the political world as it is today and raising money is part of funding a robust campaign. For us to do everything we’ve done, talked to as many voters as we have and collected as many surveys as we did, takes money.”

Chin said his campaign is concentrating this weekend and through Tuesday on filling the polls.

Lysen said the group sent all City Council candidates questionnaires earlier this year. Most answered the questions, and the group selected four that matched their criteria.

“We were looking for candidates who share our values, who are going to work hard and knock on doors themselves,” she said. “We want them to run a campaign and we don’t want to do a bunch of volunteer work on behalf of someone who isn’t really throwing down the way we know they should.”

Candidates who get the MPA’s support get mentioned by the volunteers knocking on doors throughout the city.

And Ward 1 candidate Lysen, who has raised $1,925 for the race, said the money helps, but hard work counts more.

His opponent, incumbent Councilor Leslie Dubois, was the top City Council fundraiser in 2013, with $800. This year, she’s raised a scant $225. She doesn’t really need more this year, she said.

“I did not have to buy new signs, just put stickers on the ones I had,” she said. “So that accounts for quite a bit.”

The increased spending concerns her, she said.

“It seems to me that they are making this race partisan, but it’s not supposed to be,” she said.

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