LEWISTON — City councilors say they are ready to put aside politics from a tough mayoral race and get down to business.

“Now that the election is over, it’s time to do the work we were elected to do,” said Ward 5 Councilor Kristen Cloutier. “We are all adults. We were elected to serve the residents of Lewiston in the best way we can and to strengthen our community. I think we will all come together and do that.”

Voters re-elected conservative Bob Macdonald to another two years as the city’s mayor Tuesday, picking him over liberal challenger Ben Chin, the political director of the Maine People’s Alliance.

The vote was a runoff between the two, settling the close result of November’s municipal ballot. Neither mayoral candidate got more than 50 percent of the votes, the requirement to win the race, leading to the runoff.

But voters also handed the City Council over to an MPA-supported majority at that November vote.

MPA-supported counselors include Ward 1’s Jim Lysen, Ward 3’s Isobel Golden, Ward 6’s Joline Beam and incumbent Ward 5 candidate Cloutier. All four threw their support behind Chin, endorsing him as mayor at a late-November campaign event.


They’ll join three conservative candidates — incumbents Shane Bouchard from Ward 4, Mike Lachance from Ward 7 and newcomer Tim Lajoie from Ward 2.

Those three were critical of their four colleagues-elect, criticizing them for putting partisan politics above City Council cooperation.

But Lachance said the reality is that he and his conservative colleagues are in the minority on the City Council.

“We will not vote no on every vote for the next few years, but even if we did, we lose,” Lachance said. “We would lose every vote. So control really is up to the four other councilors.”

But, Lachance said, losing council votes might not be the worst thing.

“If we are on the right side of the issue, losing a vote on the council is winning a vote with the people we represent — if we are voting correctly.”


Ward 1’s Lysen, one of Chin’s most vocal supporters and a former planning director for the city, said he’s ready to work with the new council. 

“I’ve tried to maintain a good relationship with Bob Macdonald,” Lysen said. “I was obviously a big supporter of Ben Chin — I thought his was a better direction to go in — but the voters have spoken. We are going to make the best of our situation. I pledge to get things done, and you have to work with people to do that.”

Lysen said settling Lewiston’s solid waste situation will be one of his top goals. Macdonald and the current City Council are investigating a paid-trash collection proposal, requiring residents to buy special trash bags. Chin’s campaign came out against it, even though Cloutier, one of the MPA candidates, voted in favor of it.

Lysen said it deserves a fresh look in January, once the new council is seated.

He also is eager to review the city’s new comprehensive plan. It’s currently being reviewed by the city’s Planning Board.

Ward 3’s Golden said she’s ready to put aside her MPA support to work with her colleagues.


“At this point, I’m completely ready to move forward and work with the other councilors and Mayor Macdonald and put the election behind us,” she said. “I’m not going let any of that interfere with our work on the council and our work for Lewiston.”

But some conflict is inevitable. Lysen said he’ll work with his colleagues, to a point.

“Common ground is not always easy, but that’s what I’m going to be working for,” Lysen said. “How can we agree about moving the city forward? It’s going to take some compromise and I understand that. But there are some values I won’t compromise on.”

Ward 2’s Lajoie echoed that sentiment.

“I was pretty upfront in my campaign that I was going to represent certain things,” Lajoie said. “There are principles on which my constituents don’t want to be compromised and I am prepared to draw a line. We may lose the vote, but I won’t be voting just to get along.”

The City Council, School Committee and Mayor Macdonald will all take their oaths of office at the city inauguration, scheduled for Jan. 4.


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