BIDDEFORD — The proposed racino is the talk about town and a central issue in the city’s mayoral race this Nov. 8.

But for incumbent Mayor Joanne Twomey and her opponent state Rep. Alan Casavant, it’s not the only issue.

Along with bringing jobs to the city through the racino, Twomey, 65, said she hopes to increase the city’s revenue to offset the $32 million high school renovation project and continue her fight against downtown incinerator Maine Energy Recovery Co.

Casavant, 59, said the racino is only “a piece of the puzzle.” He said he plans to bring jobs to the city through better marketing, create a more inviting business climate in the city and improve the tone and professionalism of council meetings.

Twomey, who is seeking re-election to her third term, has also served as a city councilor, spent eight years as a state representative and has been a lifelong environmental advocate.

She has been a strong proponent of a local racino and criticized Casavant and other local representatives who voted against L.D. 1203, which would have changed state law allowing the racino in Biddeford, sending a statewide referendum to voters that will determine the fate of proposed Biddeford Downs.

“The racino is not the end-all, but it will help to stimulate what I hope will jump-start Main Street,” Twomey said.

Casavant is currently the state representative for District 137, which includes part of Biddeford and Kennebunkport. He retired as a Biddeford High School teacher at the end of the 2010-11 school year.

Earlier this year, Casavant voted against the bill that would have allowed the racino, calling it a “bad bill.” He has also said that if the referendum is approved and if he is elected mayor, he will work to negotiate the best deal for Biddeford.

Another key issue during Twomey’s two terms in office is working to get MERC out of the downtown area. For years, officials in both Saco and Biddeford have complained that MERC discouraged local development and smelled bad. Last year, she walked out on negotiations with the company claiming the company never met deadlines and wanted to use public stimulus money for their private profit.

“I decided that was the end,” she said. “Now we’re fighting for an air license.”

She said the company’s air license has expired and the city is working with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to get the “best air license” regulating the company’s emissions and how much trash it burns.

The cornerstone of Casavant’s campaign has been the slogan “Positive, Professional.”

“We’ve seen yelling, sarcasm and no toleration,” Casavant said. “I feel government should be inviting … more welcoming, willing to listen and engage people.”

But Twomey has questioned Casavant’s professionalism.

“It’s been the dirtiest race I’ve ever been involved in. Every day I’ve had to defend an accusation,” she said.

Casavant contends they aren’t accusations, but that he’s pointing out where he can do better as mayor.

“If you like the status quo, then vote for Mayor Twomey,” he said, but if residents are unhappy with the way things are and “want change. Vote for me.”

Residents also will be asked to elect councilors for all seven wards and two at-large seats. A total of 23 candidates is vying for the positions, with only three uncontested races, in Wards 2, 4 and 6.

Seven candidates are also running for seven seats on the school committee, but only six will be elected. City Clerk Carmen Morris said that while the school committee is elected at-large, only two people from a single ward can be elected. There are three candidates from Ward 3 vying for seats.

Also on the ballot are candidates for ward clerk, warden and the proposed charter commission. 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

ebouthillette@pressherald.com