Fran Flanagan, a 20-year resident of Lewiston and graduate of Lewiston Porter High School, has announced his candidacy for Lewiston Town Board.
Flanagan said his experience while campaigning for Town Board in 2015 taught him what is important to Lewiston residents. Personally meeting over 2,000 residents while going door-to-door, Flanagan heard comments such as people, “don’t want elected officials who just agree to agree with each other to make things easy.” Residents voiced their desire to Flanagan to have someone on the Town Board who is willing to shake things up and who will fight for what is right for the taxpayers. Flanagan believes as an elected official you serve the community and do what is right for the residents, not yourself or certain groups.
Flanagan is for keeping spending in check and not having the Lewiston taxpayer foot the bill for everything by raising fees and taxes. “I identify with the people that get up every day, work hard to keep their homes and pay their bills and taxes, and who want the best for their kids and community,” he said.
Flanagan believes there is a need for a town government that reflects those values. “I don’t believe in what they call partisan blocs and voting lock step with others on the board just to get through a meeting quickly. I intend to make decisions based on what the facts indicate, what I hear from residents, and not the marching orders from political bosses. I know how families sacrifice to make ends meet, especially with stagnant wages and loss of good paying jobs,” Flanagan said. “That’s why we need to build a town government that always watches the bottom line while working more efficiently and effectively to deliver the services we need.”
Flanagan, who attends Town Board meetings, sees how residents are often treated at meetings and finds it concerning. “I have seen town residents treated poorly by some Town Board members showing little patience and at times, belittling people and being just rude. I find that unacceptable. Board members are elected to serve the taxpayers and are paid by the taxpayers. So when a taxpayer has a comment or concern, they deserve to be treated with respect and patience.”
Flanagan also has an interest in making sure town government is truly transparent. “When I see very little public discussion on a topic that makes me think issues are being decided beforehand and outside of public view. That I do not agree with – residents deserve to know how decisions are made and how those decisions will affect them,” he said.
While not every little issue needs major discussion, Flanagan believes there are many issues presented for Town Board decisions for which not much notice is given to taxpayers.
Flanagan believes more work should be done to improve how the town manages and oversees public finances. From scheduling the annual budget sessions to be more convenient for public attendance to properly utilizing the procurement of professional services, Flanagan wants an open review of the town’s legal and engineering expenses because he feels a great deal of spending occurs outside of public view. “Taxpayers should not have to do a Freedom of Information request to find out just how much the town is spending on lawyers and engineers, but that’s pretty much what has to be done in order to get the numbers,” Flanagan said. “I’m not saying that these are not essential services, but taxpayers should be able to decide and question if those essential services can be obtained at a cost-savings. It should be a much more open process to obtain such costs.”
Citing the recent report by the town’s auditors regarding town finances, Flanagan believes more should be done to effectively manage town finances. In their report, the auditors, once again, highlighted a need to establish a fund balance policy and a long-term capital projects plan.
“We have serious challenges ahead with increasing costs and limited sources of funding,” he said. “Our resident base is largely individuals on fixed incomes who cannot afford to pay more in taxes or higher user fees. Going door to door, I have heard many seniors and soon to be seniors tell me they can no longer afford to live in Lewiston and must sell their homes because of the taxes on their homes. At the same time, we cannot afford to have working families leave because they too cannot afford the taxes and higher user fees. We must find a resolution to this issue, and I hope with your vote on Nov. 5 to be part of the solution.”
Flanagan, the father of two, owns his home in the village and knows very well how increases and added-on taxes and fees affect property owners. Flanagan works at Goodyear Tire and Rubber and is a member of United Steelworkers Union Local 0277.
Previously, Flanagan worked for the Village of Lewiston for 10 years and was a member of Teamsters Local 264.