Name: Jim Lysen

Office sought: Lewiston City Council, Ward 1.

Occupation: retired, city councilor.

Education: Bachelor of Science in civil engineering; master’s degree in city and regional planning.

Family: my wife, Susann Pelletier, is a poet/writer/editor, retired teacher, and native of this area. My daughter Genevieve lives in Lewiston in her own home, graduated from Lewiston High School and Hofstra University, and is a community organizer locally.

Political experience: I am completing my first term as city councilor representing Ward 1. I have decades of experience as a volunteer leader with the Maine People’s Alliance, Visible Community and other local and state groups working toward social, racial, environmental and economic justice.


1. Why do you think you’re the most qualified, or best candidate for this seat? 
 Public service as a city councilman and volunteer leader; work experience as Lewiston planning director and executive director of Community Clinical Services, a federally qualified health center affiliated with St. Mary’s Health System in Lewiston; an educational background in engineering and city and regional planning, and a passion and love for this city and its people.
2. What do you believe is the biggest issue facing your city? Why? 
The biggest issue is widespread and generational poverty where families lack safe and decent housing, food security — especially youth — and access to quality health care. Our whole community has been touched by the ever-increasing mental health and addiction crises that require improved access to meaningful care, including treatment options. We must stop the scapegoating of low-income and immigrant peoples that divides our community and prevents us from dealing with the real issues. Many in our community need better opportunities for education, skill building, job training and meaningful, good-paying jobs with a future in order to break the cycle of poverty.
3. What do you like about the city budget passed this year, and what don’t you like?
The City Council successfully balanced municipal needs with available resources. The council used fund balance monies (a sort of “rainy day fund”) to do some important work that was formerly bypassed, such as overdue road repair and much needed equipment replacement. I would like to see future resources set aside for the proposed arts center at Lewiston High School. I do not like the ongoing raid on revenue sharing by the governor and his legislative allies, which continues to increase the tax burden on local property taxpayers and/or force us to cut services in order to balance the budget.

4. What is the best way for your city to boost economic development and its attraction to people from outside the region? 

The mayor, City Council and city administration must work cooperatively to both support local businesses that can grow, and attract other businesses that can make a difference in Lewiston. Encouraging development of Bates Mill No. 5 and the Hartley Block mixed-use development on Lisbon Street are examples of such opportunities. Economic development often needs financial assistance from municipalities, and that is OK. I would like that financial support directly tied into community benefit, such as livable wage jobs, affordable housing, historic preservation and improved working conditions for workers.
5. Do you support the merger of Lewiston and Auburn?
Yes, although I found surprising opposition to the merger while canvassing for my campaign. I believe it makes financial and political sense, but I think this is more of an emotional issue with voters. The rivalries between our cities go back a long way. I applaud the work done by the Charter Commission and we must follow the will of the voters. I strongly believe that the most important aspect of our image is what we believe about ourselves. We have much to celebrate and be proud of. Doing so in a united and clear way will provide the best opportunity to realize Lewiston’s potential.

Jim Lysen, candidate for Lewiston City Council, Ward 1.

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