LEWISTON — Former Lewiston Mayor Jim Howaniec will lead a group of current and former city councilors and School Committee officials from around the Twin Cities to formally oppose consolidating Lewiston and Auburn.

“We just want to be sure that there is some opposition articulated to the commission,” Howaniec said.

Members include Auburn’s Ward 5 City Councilor Leroy Walker, former councilors Ron Potvin and Belinda Gerry, Androscoggin County sheriff and former Auburn City Councilor Eric Samson, former Auburn School Committee member Larry Pelletier and Lewiston resident Mike Edgecomb.

“We all feel strongly opposed to this initiative and want to make sure that the opposition side gets told and gets out there,” Howaniec said.

The group has scheduled a news conference at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 14, at Rolly’s Diner in New Auburn.

Lewiston and Auburn voters elected six commissioners — three from each city — in June 2014 to study and draft a new charter combining the two cities. The group has met twice each month discussing government options, meeting with local government representatives and writing a draft charter combining language from the Lewiston and Auburn charters and a national model charter.

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The commission released the draft of the charter and a document comparing it with the Lewiston and Auburn charters  in January and hired consultants CGR to help figure out how combined city operations would work.

All of the members have their own reason for opposing, Howaniec said. Personally, he fears Lewiston residents will be saddled with paying the city’s current debt while any financial benefits flow to Auburn.

“Plus, I’m just against the idea of throwing out 200 years of history,” Howaniec said. “I really think there is a cultural connection that citizens of each city have and I don’t see a huge public sentiment in favor of consolidating.”

The charter commission is considering a November vote on its proposed charter and organization plan.

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