When I opened the Sun Journal Nov. 20, I was disappointed to see the way Lewiston City Councilor Michael Lachance had characterized my advocacy for safer city streets in his guest column.

The death of Jayden Cho-Sargent earlier this month was a horrific tragedy. Lewiston officials need to act to make city streets safer for all travelers, including those people who walk, ride, or use a wheelchair, to help prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Last week, I worked with local leaders to bring the community together in a forum to talk openly about how to improve safety on the streets. We heard from walkers, riders and drivers in an open dialogue without time limits or parliamentary procedure getting in the way.

The results of that forum will be compiled in a report and delivered to school, city and state officials. I hope that report will serve as a guide for immediate action and long-term planning.

About 65 residents attended Wednesday’s forum and shared their concerns and suggestions. One of them was Cho-Sargent’s mom. She wants the city to make pedestrian safety improvements to help prevent such needless loss of life in the future. She doesn’t want her son to have died in vain.

Three pedestrians have died crossing Lewiston streets in the past year. Their deaths must be a call to action.


When elected officials are presented an opportunity to make a heavily-traveled street safer, the threshold to reject that opportunity should be exceptionally high. But a majority of the City Council, including Lachance, recently rejected such an opportunity.

I believe they made the wrong decision.

The morning of Cho-Sargent’s death, I emailed city officials, asking them to reconsider their recent decision against traffic calming and pedestrian safety improvements on Sabattus Street. After the forum, Councilor Lachance approached me and we spoke again about what the city should do to make streets safer.

We continued to disagree. I’ve been involved in public service long enough to know that you won’t win over everybody, but I’m disappointed that Councilor Lachance would describe my advocacy as an act of “political expediency.”

For 65 years, American streets have been built to move cars and trucks as quickly as possible, without regard to those who walk, ride or use a wheelchair.

Today, forward-thinking advocates and engineers are working to reverse that dangerous policy. Local politicians like Lachance who speak the language of safe streets in a public forum shouldn’t block projects that make streets safer without being questioned about it.

As Lewiston’s state senator, it’s my job to advocate for the safety and prosperity of all Lewiston people — even if that means disagreeing with local officials — in a respectful and passionate way.

Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, serves on State and Local Government and Taxation committees.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: