12 Oct Election 2019: Lewiston mayoral candidates
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 chair of the Lewiston School Committee and vice chair 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…