MARK CAYER

Mark Cayer Sun Journal file photo

Occupation: Lewiston-based small business owner, Maine PI Service

Education: Lewiston public schools, advance EMT, Maine Criminal Justice Academy — certified law enforcement officer, advanced training in law enforcement administration, arson investigation and other related law enforcement studies.

Family: Married 35 years to Susan; two sons, Mark Jr. and Michael; five grandchildren

Political experience: Current chairman of the Lewiston School Committee and vice chairman of Western Maine Transportation Services. Ward 6 city councilor for six years, with two terms as council president. Former member of the Auburn-Lewiston Airport Board of Directors, Lewiston Finance Committee, Workforce Development Committee, and Police Chief Hiring Committee.

Q: Why do you think you’re the most qualified or best candidate for this seat?

A: The mayor’s most important role is to be a forceful advocate for our city. While I understand the challenges we face — and we will tackle them as neighbors working together — we need a mayor who will bring back a positive voice to the office, promoting statewide all that is good in Lewiston. My campaign is an example of my continued advocacy of our city. I understand the biggest challenge facing our community is the lack of economic growth. Simply put, if we don’t start to invest our time and money in local people and ideas, we will be in the exact same place another decade from now. We are running out of time and must start today.

Two other areas that must be addressed are improving our schools and public safety. I am the only candidate this year who has the needed experience in education and public safety. During my 20-year law enforcement career, which included working as a lieutenant in a criminal investigation division, I developed the kind of professional relationships that are needed to make a difference. The recent crime trends that concern us must be addressed with cooperation from the District Attorney’s Office and other law enforcement agencies.

I am also the only candidate who has served an important role in public education and has a clear understanding of the many challenges our teachers face every day. My experience in many leadership roles has made a difference in this community. I am most proud of leading the Lewiston City Council in addressing our out-of-control borrowing, which resulted in significant debt. As a result of my leadership, a policy was approved that has significantly reduced costs to our taxpayers. I believe my track record of service and proven results demonstrate that I am the best-qualified candidate running for mayor.

Q: Do you support the Choice Neighborhood Transformation Plan and the path it lays out for Lewiston’s downtown? How do you think the city should be addressing poverty and substandard housing? 

A: For too many years a cookie-cutter approach to low-income housing has hurt the very people it was meant to help. Not only that, but it has hurt our community as a whole. This transformation plan, developed by our community and not the federal government, finally addresses not only housing, but overall community and economic well-being. Those who oppose this plan fail to recognize that finally we have a plan that begins to hold residents, landlords, elected officials, education leaders, and business leaders accountable in the transformation of our neighborhoods.

In reference to addressing poverty, our under-reported poverty level and anemic economic growth over the past two decades have resulted in a recipe for failure in our community. The good news is that the city has finally recognized and is examining the toll poverty takes on everything we do, including education. We are now heading in the right direction and much good work is being done. For example, through my leadership the Lewiston School Committee has appointed a “poverty subcommittee,” which will support ongoing constructive efforts to reduce poverty in our community. Any candidate who does not make addressing poverty a priority does not understand what it will take to move Lewiston forward.

Substandard housing is now, and has been at a critical level in our community. We need to improve our housing stock if we hope to maintain a vibrant workforce. The housing must be lead free, and located in safe neighborhoods that are pedestrian and bicycle friendly and accessible to public transportation.

Q: What do you like about the city budget passed this year, and what don’t you like?

A: What I like about the most recent budget is that more capital needs around infrastructure and equipment are being addressed. We have significantly fallen behind in maintaining infrastructure, especially since the 2008 recession. We still have a long way to go, especially with the current road conditions, but we are pointing in the right direction.

What I don’t like about the budget is that out of a 12% increase in new city revenue, only 1.5% is from new growth. Most of the additional revenue comes from increased revenue sharing, excise taxes, fines and fees. This is not sustainable and is a direct reflection on a weak local economy. We have to do better as a community if we want to have meaningful tax relief, while still addressing the many pressing challenges we face.

Q: Do you support the New England Clean Energy Connect project, specifically the $250 million converter station proposed for Lewiston? 

A: I support the creation of a $250 million converter station in Lewiston. The last significant new development project in Lewiston was the $41 million Walmart Distribution Center, and that was nearly 20 years ago. The converter station will generate $6 million to $8 million per year of new tax revenue for Lewiston. It will have a direct positive impact on several local businesses and the nearly 100 families in Lewiston who work in related fields. These are not special interest groups, they are our friends and neighbors. And despite its recent difficulties, CMP is still the largest property taxpayer in Lewiston. They have made major investments in our community over the years and they pay their taxes on time. This could be the first time in 20 years that we deliver meaningful property tax relief and meet the needs of our schools, police and fire departments, roads and future development. This is a game changer for our community. Any candidate for mayor must place the needs of Lewiston first.

Q: Is there an issue facing the city that you believe is not being addressed appropriately? 

A: Economic and community well-being must be addressed in different ways. We need not only to think outside the box — we sometimes have to throw the box away. As a community we need to focus on improving our local economy so that we can offer prosperity to all our residents. We need a mayor to champion all that is good (our work ethic, good schools, technical and workforce training, safe neighborhoods, arts and entertainment) so that businesses and entrepreneurs want to invest in our community. This must start with our local residents, developers, and landlords. In other words, it starts with us!

TIM LAJOIE

Tim Lajoie Sun Journal file photo

Occupation: Sergeant, Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office; chaplain, Maine Law Enforcement Chaplain Corps

Education: Master of science in criminal justice; master of arts in management and leadership; master of arts in theological studies; bachelor of science in religion; associate of arts in biblical studies; completed doctoral course work in theories of crime.

Family: Wife, Dawn (married 32 years); two children (Jacob and Samantha); four grandchildren

Political experience: Lewiston city councilor (2016-2017); as a councilor served on the Lewiston-Auburn 911 Committee, city council representative to the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, city council representative to Loan Qualification Committee; Republican nominee for Androscoggin County Sheriff (2014).

Q: Why do you think you’re the most qualified, or best candidate for this seat?

A: Lewiston needs a leader who is willing to have tough conversations, challenge the status quo, and be very vocal in holding our elected officials and public servants accountable. My management and leadership experience is vast, and comes from the private, government and military sectors. I have worked as a manager or leader with various and diverse populations of people in various organizations, some in very tough environments — as a criminal justice professional, college professor and educator, and chaplain. My education is synthesized with real-world experiences, tried in the fire, engaging with real people — in their pain, success, failure, and dreams. My approach to the world is honest, direct and realistic.

I have learned that while cooperation is the goal among stakeholders with different ideas, good leadership is not always collaborative. It must sometimes be challenging. That’s necessary to keep competing interests honest. It is not effective to “go along to get along.” If ideas come up that are bad for the city — even though embraced or supported by an elite few — someone needs to have the fortitude to stand and speak against those ideas, without being afraid of being criticized. Lewiston needs that kind of leader. The mayor’s office is an advocate for the people, not simply a figurehead who goes along with the crowd. My promise to the people of Lewiston is stand for their interests, no matter how overwhelming the opponents of that may seem. I will hold councilors, state representatives, district attorneys, and others elected to serve the citizens of the city, accountable. They are not an elite club, they are public servants. I will demand that they do their jobs and will let the public know when they don’t. I will inspire the citizens to get involved and hold them accountable with their votes.

Q: Do you support the Choice Neighborhood Transformation Plan and the path it lays out for Lewiston’s downtown? How do you think the city should be addressing poverty and substandard housing?

A: The program misses the bigger picture. We can’t simply build more subsidized and tax-exempt housing to benefit wealthy outside corporations and expect to save Lewiston. Our city is in desperate need of investments to achieve the economic resurgence needed to create opportunities, raise wages for all, and keep our kids here to raise families of their own. However, much of these investments will not come so long as there is a public safety problem, including drug and human trafficking, and violent crime — this drives opportunity away. A safe and secure Lewiston, with a restored reputation, can be leveraged to attract federal, state and private funds for things like passenger rail to connect our city with the rest of New England and the world, technology and broadband, and support for manufacturing and industry. This would lead to increased property values and opportunities for our people, and encourage others to move to Lewiston and buy property to live in or develop. It all starts with restoring our reputation. Together, we can do it.

Q: What do you like about the city budget passed this year, and what don’t you like?

A: My reaction to this budget — and other budgets I saw while serving on the council — is simple: It relies on property taxes yet we are giving away more property to the nonprofits who aren’t paying their fair share in taxes while we watch our taxes go up. This means each year’s budget will see less tax revenue unless we find a way to encourage tax paying businesses and people buying homes to live in the community. We continue to expand social service programs that don’t work. We continue to expand the school budget, but parents aren’t satisfied with the results. We cannot spend our way to good schools — until parents get back to reading to their kids every night, we can spend as much money as we want in the classroom and it won’t work.

I’d like to see bigger investments in public safety, which I know from my time on the city council, people are willing to pay for. But they aren’t willing to pay for budget items that get more expensive each year, with no tangible result to show for it. Citizen investment needs to show results.

Spending more and more each year, which municipal budgets always seem to do, is not going to work. Currently, non-taxable property is growing at four times the rate of taxable property. This places a higher burden on our families, and it’s not sustainable if we want to turn our city around.

Q: Do you support the New England Clean Energy Connect project, specifically the $250 million converter station proposed for Lewiston?

A: The short answer is no, I don’t. There is a lot of controversy around CMP, due to reports of over-billing struggling families, breaking promises to citizens and municipalities, and environmental impacts. People I have spoken to in Lewiston are skeptical of a project supported by political insiders, lobbyists, political parties, and people from out of state — and even outside the country. So, when they proposed a power line corridor through the Maine woods to Lewiston to bring cheap electricity from Quebec to Massachusetts residents, many have understandably reacted negatively, including the majority of towns surrounding the corridor who have voted in disapproval.

Despite these serious concerns from everyday residents, the Lewiston City Council and current mayor support the CMP corridor, citing promises of cash. They decided to go it alone and endorse the project without input from residents. Doesn’t this suggest a disconnect between elected politicians and the citizens they represent? Maybe the CMP corridor ought to be put to a vote so residents can have a say?

Objections should not have a simple price tag of money to get city officials to look the other way, with no plan of how to spend the funds, or plans that far exceed the “projected” revenue windfall, which is in dispute. Unless CMP wants to talk about partnering with us to make the specific kinds of investments Lewiston needs, while addressing citizens’ valid concerns, then I stand with the concerned citizens in Lewiston and around the state who are against the project. I am only interested in credible proposals that are both good for Maine and that will help Lewiston restore our city’s image so we may prosper once again.

Q: Is there an issue facing the city that you believe is not being addressed appropriately?

A: In 2015, when I ran for City Council, I was asked about the opioid crisis, and how we were working to fix it. My response went something like, “The opioid crisis is not getting better, it’s getting worse.” To build on that thought, the public safety concerns brought about by the illicit drug trade is hurting this city. Bad. We need to be honest about it, we need to aggressively confront it, and not accommodate it with things like safe injection sites, needle exchanges, needle disposal boxes, or other measures that suggest surrender. All of those “solutions” have been offered by current elected officials and I adamantly disagree with it.

The drug issue drives nearly all the crime in the city — crimes committed to provide money for drugs, crimes committed by people on drugs, and crimes committed by addicts who need the drugs. Human trafficking is related to the drug trade. So, it’s all here, in all of its ugliness. I know because I see it. I interact daily with the cops who see it. I interact daily with the perpetrators. I interact daily with the stakeholders trying to deal with it — courts, attorneys, case workers, physicians, families, etc. The destruction cannot be described. We need to be much, much tougher. We need to demand our court system to be much, much tougher. How much are we going to take? How much are we willing to shrug off? It’s not enough to say, “Well, we’re not as bad as fill-in-the blank community.” That’s just an excuse not to act.

These things create a public image, an atmosphere of instability, and it’s a public image that discourages economic growth. There’s a time and place for mercy. But it’s unfair to continue to ask innocent Lewiston residents to bear the burden of the crime and disruption brought about by drug traffickers and their deadly poison. We need to throw the book at them and help those who want to get better.

Lewiston has some great things going for it. Lewiston has some great people who want to improve the city. But I’m afraid until we deal with this, the rest is not going to happen. As a citizen, as a local public servant in the criminal justice field, I’m saying if we don’t take care of this, I don’t believe any of our best intentions and plans will ever get off the ground.

CHARLES SOULE

Charles Soule Submitted photo

Occupation: (Did not answer)

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Q: Why do you think you’re the most qualified, or best candidate for this seat?

A: I am not a special interest candidate for mayor. Where the other two candidates have given up once held positions on the Lewiston City Council. I also believe that every once in a while the residents of Lewiston need an outsider for clear perspective as to that which is occurring in what seems to be a closed system of special interests.

Q: Do you support the Choice Neighborhood Transformation Plan and the path it lays out for Lewiston’s downtown? How do you think the city should be addressing poverty and substandard housing?

A: Yes and was pleased to hear that Healthy Neighborhood Project input, Community Concepts in association with proposed construction area landlord owners and were able to purchase building for associated area of construction. And thus, aid building owners out of a problem building by purchasing buildings. And in so doing aiding the once vital taxpaying landlords from losing their investments. To wit replacing/tearing down that number of older apartment units then replacing with new structures without loss of city tax revenue. And, all this made possible through a federal grant which was procured by and with the aid of Lewiston city administration.

Q: What do you like about the city budget passed this year, and what don’t you like?

A: That the Lewiston referendum question purposing expenditure of $13 million was placed out to Lewiston resident vote at the November 5 election. I am concerned that Lewiston’s administration does not realize that the aging Lewiston taxpayers need a break from tax increases.

Q: Do you support the New England Clean Energy Connect project, specifically the $250 million converter station proposed for Lewiston?

A: NO. And the fact that Lewiston is going into a computer water smart meter is troubling to me.

Q: Is there an issue facing the city that you believe is not being addressed appropriately?

A: Yes, inner-city policing, too much reliance on high-tech cameras and not enough manned foot patrols. Secondly, is the fact that the city through the Lewiston School Board had to lessen the grades required for graduation from high school 6 weeks prior to the graduating classes graduation from high school. Or, half the class would not have graduated in 2019 is of great concern to me. But, yet they want to spend $13 million. Should we not be looking at money to insure the above circumstance does not happen again?


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