Mark Cayer, right, greets a voter at Longley Elementary School in Lewiston on Tuesday morning. Cayer won the election for Lewiston mayor.  Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — In a battle between two career law enforcement officers and former city councilors, Mark Cayer bested Tim Lajoie by a vote of 3,237 to 2,521.

Charles Soule received 169 votes.

With Cayer, Lewiston has chosen a candidate who promised to address generational poverty, education and lead poisoning in housing. He will go from School Committee chairman to the mayor’s seat this winter.

After results came in, Cayer was celebrating at the Agora Grand with other Democratic candidates.

“Everyone’s pretty ecstatic,” he said. “People in our community are truly ready for change and we need a mayor’s office that really broadcasts statewide all that’s good in our community, and I think people are ready for that. This whole room is full of excitement.”

He said that before arriving there he received a call from Gov. Janet Mills, who congratulated him on the victory.

“She assured me that the Governor’s Office will do everything they can to assist me and get our economic development going here in Lewiston,” he said. “On Day One, I’m going to focus on economic development and supporting our local businesses and entrepreneurs.”

Both Cayer and Lajoie came from a law enforcement background, and it was reflected throughout the campaign. Lajoie works at the Androscoggin County Jail, Cayer was a career police officer and now owns his own private investigation service.

But, the two candidates ultimately ran much different campaigns. Cayer sold himself as a moderate who would bring stability and civil politics back to Lewiston. He supports the recently approved “transformation plan” for downtown Lewiston.

Lajoie took a more hard-line approach, especially when it came to crime, and he sold himself as the candidate who would rid the city of “special interests” and a “Lewiston-last agenda.” He was among voices to criticize the city’s planning for downtown, calling it another initiative that gives away property to nonprofits and raises taxes.

The two leading candidates didn’t agree on a number of issues, including the problems facing Lewiston. Lajoie promised to bring law and order to the city and to “throw the book” at criminals and drug dealers.

In the run up to the election, Lajoie railed against a plan to install used syringe receptacles at various locations and the proposed Central Maine Power converter station in Lewiston, a key piece of the New England Clean Energy Connection project. Cayer has supported both.

Lajoie did not respond to calls for comment, but in a statement posted to his campaign Facebook page, Lajoie said, “I ran the race I believed needed to be run and said the things that I believed needed to be said. I continue to stand for those things. I have no regrets. Congratulations to Mark Cayer. He is a good and decent man. I have faith he will serve Lewiston’s best interests.”

While political parties are not disclosed in municipal elections, and are considered “non-partisan,” Cayer is a registered Democrat. Lajoie is a registered Republican. Both candidates’ slate of endorsements showed their political leanings. Mills announced she was endorsing Cayer last week.

The turnout on Election Day of 6,060 was 22% of the 27,104 registered voters in Lewiston.

In 2017, there were about 10,300 votes cast in Lewiston, a 38.7% turnout. However, that year also saw the contentious merger referendum, potentially driving up numbers.

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