Lewiston Mayoral Race: Runoff Edition

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Following Election Day, Lewiston’s mayoral race will now be pushed into a head-to-head runoff between the two top candidates, Ben Chin and Shane Bouchard.

Last Tuesday, Bates alumnus Ben Chin received the most votes of all the candidates in the five-way mayoral race. According to the Sun Journal, Chin reigned in 4,239 votes, which amounts to 41 percent of total votes. Due to the Lewiston City Charter, which states that a candidate must win at least 50 percent of the vote to be determined the winner of a mayoral race, the two candidates that received the most votes will be facing off one more time. Chin will be running against Shane Bouchard, who captured 29 percent of the total vote. This runoff election is a chance to elect an official that will truly work to better the Lewiston Community!

Ben Chin’s platform is devoted to making sure that all Lewiston residents have access to basic necessities and services. One great example of this is Chin’s Belonging Agenda: an initiative that will tackle Maine’s opioid epidemic, and other substance abuse disorders, from a public health perspective. This will help more people receive the care they need in order to move forward, and give back to their community.

In addition to topics like affordable housing and inclusivity to all Lewiston residents, Ben Chin will also work towards tax fairness for seniors, landlords, and homeowners. This is especially important in Lewiston because, over the past eight years, property taxes have increased substantially as a result of three major statewide tax breaks for the wealthy. Lewiston is just one of many cases where trickle-down economics has negatively impacted working communities. Chin’s opponent, Shane Bouchard, is a conservative who will uphold this unfair tax system ensuring that the rich keep getting richer, while the poor keep getting poorer.

But worse, he has been blatantly lying about Ben Chin while knocking on doors and trying to garner more of the vote. Chin says, “from the feedback I’ve heard from supporters at the door, it seems like Bouchard has been telling folks I brought the Somali community to Lewiston – which is such a ridiculous statement on so many levels that I don’t know where to begin.”

Bouchard’s motives for attempting to spread this lie carry strong undercurrents of racism and xenophobia. Bouchard, who has been compared to Trump by many, has mysteriously omitted any discussion of Lewiston’s sizeable Somali community from his platform. Bouchard claims that those who want to end divisiveness (whether it’s the income gap between the wealthy and the poor, or the Somali community that is adapting to life in Lewiston) are “simply projecting a false narrative to stand on higher ground.”

Here, Bouchard not only ignores the immense difficulties faced by Lewiston’s Somali community, but denounces those who are trying to make things better for immigrants in Lewiston. Safe to say, if Bouchard is elected Mayor, Lewiston’s Somali community will suffer. While Ben Chin, a 2007 Bates graduate, did not bring the Somali community to Lewiston, he is currently working to help them, and in doing so he is helping Lewiston as a whole. Chin is taking a stand against Bouchard’s anti-immigrant views.

He says, “My goal is to work off the broad consensus I think we’ve established. We need to make sure everyone can learn English, find good jobs, and become citizens. The only people against us are the haters, and there’s only so long we can let them hold us back.” While Chin has run a clean campaign, his opponent has been spreading lies about him. And, according to WGME News, he had roughly one thousand dollars worth of picket signs stolen. However, these tactics cannot stop your vote!

Now more than ever, your vote counts! For this runoff, early voting has already begun, and the official election day is December 12 with Longley Elementary School as your polling place. In this head-to-head fight, the margins will be extremely close. Be sure to make your voice heard.

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