Jeff Harmon, center, hugs his wife, Lisa, on Tuesday night as they are surrounded by supporters at Gipper’s Sports Grill in Auburn after receiving unofficial word that he defeated Jason Levesque and will become the new mayor of Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

AUBURN — Jeff Harmon will become Auburn’s new mayor after defeating Jason Levesque on Tuesday.

In a major political shakeup at Auburn Hall, Harmon will usher in a new era for the City Council after Levesque spent six years at the helm.

Harmon bested Levesque on Tuesday by a commanding tally of 3,768 to 2,335.

Harmon campaigned on a promise to change the trajectory of the council, including the way it has conducted its recent efforts to rezone areas of the city to encourage housing growth, as well as controversial changes to Lake Auburn watershed rules.

“I think it was an election where there was a pretty clear choice about the direction we want to go in the way that we govern,” Harmon said Wednesday morning.

In a statement Tuesday night, Levesque said representing Auburn “has been one of the greatest honors of my professional life,” and that “sometimes dealing with what’s right is not what’s popular.”


“I believe in Auburn’s future as strongly today as I did when I first became mayor six years ago,” he said. “I wish the future City Council all the best and encourage them to continue to do what’s right.”

It would have been Levesque’s fourth consecutive term.

Harmon, 64, is a retired former deputy chief of the Maine State Police, who became increasingly vocal on local politics in the past two years. He has been among the leaders of groups fighting against zoning changes in the city that are meant to encourage new housing development.

Levesque has argued that the changes have given greater flexibility to property owners while starting to address the housing crisis. However, Harmon sees the rezoning as changing the character of Auburn’s neighborhoods and has argued that the city process has lacked citizen involvement.

Harmon filed an appeal in Androscoggin County Superior Court this year that argued the city did not follow its zoning laws when it approved the second phase of the Stable Ridge development on Court Street. Harmon is an abutter to the project. The judge ultimately sided with the city.

When asked about comments leading up to the election that called Harmon a “NIMBY” candidate, Harmon said he’s been clear that he’s not opposed to development and growth, but that Auburn needs a “different process to address these challenges.”


“It’s fine to examine zoning regulations, but you need a lot more community engagement,” he said.

Harmon on Tuesday said he was feeling “optimistic” about his chances and had been talking to voters at the polls, which appeared to have a steady turnout.

Another piece of the campaigns has focused on proposed changes to watershed rules at Lake Auburn. Harmon has also been involved in the Protect Lake Auburn citizens group, which believes the city is forwarding policies that will be harmful to the lake by increasing development near the watershed.

Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque, right, greets voters Tuesday at Auburn Hall polling location. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

However, Levesque and city staff over the past few months have said the changes being pursued — an updated septic design standard, zoning that will decrease allowed density, and a new conservative watershed boundary — are all recommendations that have been vetted by the state and agreed upon by a committee made up of representatives from Lewiston and Auburn.

In a Facebook post Tuesday morning, Levesque asked undecided voters to “trust your gut.”

“Look at all the new high-paying jobs that have been created by private industry, new shopping and restaurants, innovative programs like sustainability Auburn and the victory garden program, the creation of Auburn’s partnership with CMCC so our high schoolers can now go to college and earn credits or a trade certification their senior year,” he said.

He also urged people not to believe “all the negativity from the other candidate’s campaign.”

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