This ad in Lewiston’s mayoral race doesn’t make sense

This ad for Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald’s re-election bid was spotted in a local weekly paper yesterday, and I’m still struggling to understand it.

Macdonald, a two-term incumbent known for being conservative, finds himself locked in a battle with Democratic activist Ben Chin. Three other candidates — Stephen Morgan, Luke Jensen and Charles Soule — are also running.

If you’re a conservative, there are good arguments against Chin’s bid: He’s proposing a plan to build resident-owned housing, create a special development zone on Lisbon Street, open an Office of New Americans to assist immigrants and invest in solar energy, which he says would cost $20 million over five years, but it relies on recovering state aid to cities and towns that hasn’t been fully funded in years.

But Macdonald’s arguments aren’t good. The ad features a perplexing list of bullet points that seem to blame Chin for issues that have happened on the current mayor’s watch.

  • “Not by the hair on my Chinny, Chin, Chin will I allow tax payers to close Lewiston’s doors and allow welfare in.”

Other than the Three Little Pigs reference, I’m not sure what this means.

Welfare has been a key issue in this campaign, and Macdonald, whose city has been changed like no other place in Maine by immigration, may be the state’s best-known welfare hawk not named Gov. Paul LePage. His call for a state welfare registry in a September column in the Twin City Times sparked condemnation from many, including Chin.

But if you close the doors, how does the welfare get in?

  • “Thank Mr. Chin for Lewiston’s overcrowded classrooms.”

Lewiston’s classrooms are already overcrowded, according to WMTW. The school system saw 140 more students enroll this year than expected, and the district has planned construction of a modular building at one elementary school to increase capacity from 350 to 480 at a cost of $1 million.

But Chin isn’t the mayor now. Macdonald is. I’m not sure why Chin should get the blame here.

  • “Thank Mr. Chin for a 27 plus mil rate.”

Lewiston’s property tax rate is very high! It’s $27.37 per $1,000 in value, making for nearly $5,500 in taxes in a year on a $200,000 home. Again, though, Macdonald is the mayor now.

  • “Thank Mr. Chin for giving you the privilege of supporting asylum seekers.”

Macdonald almost has a point here. Earlier this year, he worked with Republican legislators and LePage to eliminate General Assistance for asylum seekers. But that effort died in July, the governor failed to veto a legislative bill that allowed those benefits to continue for two years in a timely fashion, so it passed into law.

Chin, in his day job with the liberal Maine’s People’s Alliance, took a victory lap afterward, telling MPBN that it was “a massive, massive victory that will literally keep families and children off the streets.” LePage’s move is what kept the state on the hook for aid. — Michael Shepherd

Reading list

Quick hits

  • U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, was elected speaker on Thursday, replacing the retiring John Boehner of Ohio. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from Maine’s 1st District, was a bit more effusive in her statement congratulating Ryan than was Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a 2nd District Republican.
  • LePage, Senate President Mike Thibodeau and House Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette — all Republicans — criticized Question 1 on Tuesday’s ballot in a BDN Op-Ed on Thursday. Thibodeau and LePage feuded during the last session.
  • Portland mayoral candidate Ethan Strimling, who has emerged as the front-runner to beat Mayor Michael Brennan, is being criticized by Brennan and fellow candidate Tom MacMillan for donations from real estate developers, according to the Portland Press Herald. The criticism was also raised during a Tuesday debate hosted by WGME and the BDN.
  • U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, will get the Maine State Chamber of Commerce’s Alton “Chuck” Cianchette Business Hall of Fame award at the chamber’s annual dinner and meeting on Friday night in Augusta.
Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.