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Lewiston, Auburn Merger Rejected By Voters

Susan Sharon
Maine Public
The former Lewiston-Auburn railroad bridge, now a footbridge linking the two cities.

Lewiston and Auburn voters rejected a proposal to merge the Twin Cities on Tuesday night.

Since April 2017, the issue has been fiercely debated. Supporters of the idea argued merging would eliminate bureaucratic redundancies and spur economic development. But their arguments failed to convince voters, who were skeptical of the projected savings and feared logistical and political challenges that might arise.

Gene Geiger, who has been working on a consolidation plan for three years, said he’s disappointed by the outcome but that he’ll move on.

“The voters have made a decision, and I don’t think it’s time to even think about bringing the issue back. The voters have decided. And maybe in the future this will come back, but it’s not going to come back for quite a while. Maybe for a long time. Maybe never. The decision is made,” he said.

But others, like Cynthia Murphy of Lewiston, were optimistic. For Murphy, it is only a matter of time before Lewiston and Auburn merge.

“I think that it was a tough issue for many people to consider. I think that it was divisive in many ways. But I do think it’s a question of when, not if,” she said.

Speaking to supporters of the merger who gathered at Davinci’s Eatery in Lewiston on Tuesday night, One LA campaign manager Carl Sheline reassured the crowd that they will seek other opportunities for the Twin Cities to collaborate.

“Lewiston and Auburn voters weren’t ready for one city government and we’re disappointed with tonight’s result but we will continue to look for ways that both cities can collaborate for the benefit of all of our residents,” he said.

The idea of merging Lewiston and Auburn has been proposed several times over the past two decades. But this is the first time it has advanced to the ballot box. And voters decided they’d rather remain separate.