By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
In a few weeks a new city council will take the helm of Lewiston government. Councilors John Butler (Ward 1), Craig Saddlemire (Ward 5) and Richard Desjardins (Ward 7) will be replaced by Councilors-elect Leslie Dubois, Kristen Cloutier and Michael Lachance.
Our new councilors will find that their best day as a member of the Lewiston City Council will be Monday, January 6, 2014, Inauguration Day at the Franco-American Heritage Center. The inauguration gives them one day to bask in the sun, enjoying what they were able to achieve with family and friends.
The following day, reality will hit. City councilors, you are no longer part of the complaining public. Your days of complaining and criticizing policy makers have now gone the way of the dinosaurs. You are now part of the policy-making team. Your decisions will be applauded by some and loathed by others.
New councilors will be surprised how popular they have become when out in public. Many people will suddenly know them. This can be good. This can be bad. The 10 minutes you set aside to pick up a few grocery items suddenly turns into 60 minutes or more. This also applies to sporting events, restaurants, the mall and the place where all politics are personal: the local coffee shop.
Now, new councilors, you will soon learn, unless you’re really prepared for a fight (verbal or physical): stay away from coffee shops. The overabundance of caffeine mixed with the sugar from donuts and pastries tends to bring out the ugliness in people.
That quiet guy sitting by himself in the corner suddenly turns into the Hulk. I don’t know what it is about coffee shops, but they seem to bring out the person’s deepest unfettered emotions minus the fear of being castigated for their beliefs.
Then there are the committee assignments. Most councilors sit on at least three committees. Others more. These committees meet at various times throughout the day; some in early morning, some in the afternoon, others in the evening. Committee assignments, along with the mountains of paperwork that has to be read prior to council meetings, cuts deeply into one’s personal time.
While we regret that three of our last year’s councilors are gone, we are looking forward to working with our new colleagues. If we can continue with the same chemistry that flowed in the last two years, this will be a great council.
Prior to the start of our last council meeting of the year, Craig Saddlemire and I had a nice conversation over the happenings of the last two years. We came to the conclusion that, although we were coming from opposite directions, our goals were the same. Decisions were made on facts, not personal prejudice or emotion. In order to accomplish this, civility was always the order of the day.
As an aside, the following morning I received a Christmas card from Attorney Matt Dwyer of Pine Tree Legal. You might remember his encounter with a polar bear. Matt’s comments reinforced my conversation with Councilor Saddlemire: “We both have the same goal.”
Kudos to Lewiston Regional Technical Center for their first place win in the Robotics Competition held in Brunswick, Maine. Sweet!
Lastly, I received word from LFD Union President Rick Cailler that a local Lewiston resident had donated 51 pairs of high-quality shoes valued at $16,000 to their association. These will be distributed to the children from our inner city. Through the donation, this resident has shown what the real Christmas is all about.