Why would anyone move to Lewiston? This question is clanging around in my head as my co-workers wonder aloud, “What the heck is going on in Lewiston?”

They wonder how a mayor responsible for so much of Lewiston’s negative press can receive so many votes. They are appalled by the sometimes subtle, often blatant, racism emanating from Lewiston. How can so many fall for the anti-poor, anti-immigrant rhetoric, when many in the city are poor and if not immigrants themselves, descendents of mistreated immigrants? They see the election of Ben Chin as an obvious first step toward changing Lewiston’s long-tarnished image.

I work in North Yarmouth and my co-workers live in the greater Portland area. I live in Lewiston and have lived in the area my entire life. I love Lewiston and see great potential, so I have no good answers for my friends. Yet, they know, and I know too, so it remains unspoken. It’s the reason why young people leave Lewiston and nobody from the outside wants to live here.

Some say, “We’re not Portland!” No, but we can learn a lot from Portland. Portland doesn’t scapegoat the poor, new immigrants and asylum seekers. Portland seeks to include everyone, embraces the diversity, and is a top tier city. Hmmm.

The past 30 years have been tough for Lewiston and now it is at a turning point. Will the city be defined by the embarrassing parts of the past, or the proud deeds of its collective future?

Bruce Noddin, Lewiston

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