LEWISTON — Attention rabble-rousers: The new City Council has no plans to hold rowdy meetings and to be forever steeped in controversy.

Meeting for the first time Wednesday night, the council gathered at City Hall to discuss its upcoming work.

A few of the councilors expressed dismay at recent media coverage portraying the group as one that is deeply divided along political lines. On Election Day in November, voters put three Maine People’s Alliance candidates and three conservative candidates into six of the open seats.

“There are already elements in the press that have labeled this council,” said newly elected Ward 2 City Councilor Tim Lajoie. “I don’t want us to fall into those media stereotypes. I don’t question the good-faith motives of anyone in this room.”

The Wednesday night meeting was largely informal, the council gathering with Mayor Robert Macdonald and City Administrator Ed Barrett to discuss how the group will conduct its business. The councilors tentatively volunteered for a variety of committee assignments, although those assignments will not be formalized until after the members are sworn into office in early January. A council president will be named at that time.

The council spent much of its time Wednesday reviewing the rules of conduct that will guide their behavior.


Ward 7 City Councilor Mike Lachance said there are a few things the group should avoid from the start — things like personal attacks and bombastic behavior during meetings.

“People see that on TV,” Lachance said, “and they think, ‘What a bunch of children.’ We all look bad at that point.”

Ward 5 City Councilor Kristen Cloutier agreed, advising that councilors should treat each other civilly, even when debating an issue.

Nobody questioned that there will be disagreements; they just hope to manage them better. In the past, councilors have been known to snap and snarl at one another in the middle of formal meetings, the kind of behavior the new group hopes to avoid.

“That’s when Bob (Macdonald) needs to hit the gavel,” said Ward 4 Councilor Shane Bouchard.

“If it starts getting heated,” Barrett said, “there’s nothing wrong with taking a two-minute break and letting things calm down a bit.”


If there is friction based on ideological differences among the councilors, there was no sign of it during Wednesday’s hourlong meeting. The mayor calmly munched on Chili Cheese Fritos from a bag. Ward 1 Councilor Jim Lysen sipped orange juice through a straw and Cloutier brought cookies for everyone.

For Barrett, it seemed like a good sign.

With decades of experience in city administration, he’s seen the worst of human behavior come into play, he told the council. In other parts of the country, he said, he’s witnessed councilors actually lunging at one another across tables.

On a scale of one to 10, he said, with one being horrible and 10 being wonderful, “You guys are probably an 8.”

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