LEWISTON — Mayor Mark Cayer announced Tuesday that he will not seek a second term, ensuring the city will have a new mayor next year.

Lewiston Mayor Mark Cayer, standing in front of Lewiston City Hall in March 2020, announced Tuesday that he will not run for a second term. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file photo Buy this Photo

Cayer said he made the decision following a difficult year-and-a-half as mayor, and after more than a decade serving in various roles in public office. He said the demands of the position, especially during a pandemic, affected his business and he feels comfortable stepping away after years of service.

“The time commitment in becoming mayor is extensive and it’s been a challenging year-and-a-half overall,” he said. “It’s a difficult decision, just like it is when you decide to run for elected office. Doing this for over a decade, at some point you have to recognize that you’re taking a lot away from your family and business.”

Cayer, a former police officer, runs a small private investigation business. His decision to leave the mayor’s office comes shortly after City Administrator Denis D’Auteuil and Deputy City Administrator Dale Doughty resigned. Last week, longtime Finance Director Heather Hunter was appointed interim city administrator.

Cayer said the resignations didn’t factor into his decision, but he said his term had its challenges, including governing during an unprecedented 2020.

“Being in office for a couple of months, and suddenly being in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, that was a lot,” he said.

With nomination papers for local office available July 6, he said he wanted to make the announcement now to encourage people to run for office. He said he doesn’t plan to be involved in recruiting candidates or in campaigns.

In Lewiston, all seats for City Council, School Committee and mayor are up for election in November.

“It’s only one term (as mayor) for me, but I look back and I have three terms as city councilor, two as council president, and a term on the School Committee, a good portion of that as chair. That’s a lot of time,” he said.

Cayer, elected in 2019, campaigned as a candidate with experience in local politics who, despite Lewiston’s officially nonpartisan seats, could work with both sides of the divide.

He said he believes he’s done that over his term, finding compromises. Asked if he’s concerned for that middle ground to disappear in his absence, he said he has faith in Lewiston.

“I tried really hard to do that over my term and I will continue to do it for the next six months, working with both sides, trying to get people to come to a place in the middle,” he said. “I have faith in our community that they see value in that, and they’ll make the appropriate decisions when it comes to the election.”

Hunter, the interim city administrator, said she was surprised to hear the news Tuesday.

“Having said that, I look forward to working with all of the elected officials in the upcoming months,” she said. “The mayor has been a great ambassador for the city of Lewiston over the years. I understand the challenge of this past year and the demands of balancing the mayoral position, running a business and family time. I wish him the best.”

Across the Androscoggin River, Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque issued a statement on social media that he’s “enjoyed working with my ‘brother’ mayor from Lewiston.”

“His pragmatic approach and dedication to the job should not go unappreciated by anyone,” he said. “We’ll always have coffee at Simones after November. In the meantime, we have work to do.”

In an earlier tweet, Levesque said, “If you want to be a great mayor you have to put in the time. I can attest that Mark put in the time and Lewiston is better for it.”

In a statement Tuesday morning, Cayer encouraged residents to “consider public service by running for local office.”

According to the City Clerk’s office, nomination papers may be picked up beginning Tuesday, July 6, at the Clerk’s Office on the second floor of City Hall. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Completed nomination papers must be filed with the City Clerk’s Office no later than Friday, Sept. 3. The municipal election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

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