By Laurent F. Gilbert Sr.
Mayor of Lewiston
As I write this column on Saturday afternoon while here at Lewiston City Hall, I am still in a state of shock upon hearing of the death of mayoral candidate Mark W. Paradis a short 24 hours ago.
I had just returned from lunch on Friday when City Administrator Ed Barrett informed me that Mark had died earlier in the morning.
At this point there were consultations with the city attorney to determine what the legal process was for the upcoming election. It was clearly obvious that the election needed to proceed, according to state statute and the city charter.
As I am writing this, I know not the result of Tuesday’s election. I have been a supporter of Mark Paradis’s campaign for election, and at the press conference Friday afternoon I said: “I still intend to vote for him at the polls on Tuesday, and I would encourage other residents who had intended to vote for him to still go to the polls and vote for Mark Paradis.”
In my press statement, I said: “Mark Paradis was a man of character and integrity with a zest for life, his family and his city. During his tenure as a city councilor, he made thoughtful decisions and voted with his conscience, his heart and his dedication to all Lewiston residents.”
I might also add that Mark was probably the staunchest Boston Red Sox fan in Lewiston. I remember during the playoffs, Mark would hang a Red Sox banner in front of his desk in the city council chambers.
I stated further in my press statement: “We have been truly blessed to have had Mark Paradis as a public servant and community member. He leaves a legacy that all who knew him will never forget because people like Mark are unforgettable. His honesty, devotion to civic engagement, and his vision for Lewiston’s future were truly a class act.”
I had the pleasure of serving with Mark Paradis on the Downtown Advisory Board (DAB) during the administration of Mayor Lionel Guay. It was clearly obvious to me then that Mark always had the best interest of Lewiston and our twin city of Auburn in mind as we looked at our downtowns. Mark always did his homework and came to the meetings prepared to conduct business. He earned the respect of the entire committee.
Upon my election as mayor, I again served with Mark on the city council. As had been the case on the DAB, Mark was always prepared and served the people of Lewiston with great distinction. Obviously, there were times when we didn’t always agree, but it was always with mutual respect.
Mark Paradis was my opponent during my last election as mayor. He ran a wonderful campaign, and we stood side by side at the polls and had a good conversation during the entire Election Day. As 8 p.m. on election night came, we were at Montello School and we exchanged phone numbers, shook hands and wished each other well. After the results came in, Mark called me to congratulate me. I was fortunate to receive the requisite number of votes to win.
Shortly thereafter, I was told by Councilor Mark Cayer that Mark was still interested in serving on a city committee. I called Mark and offered him to serve on the Finance Committee. He graciously accepted and served on that committee with his same level of service with distinction until the time he had to resign by city charter in order to run for the office of mayor.
Paradis also served on the Planning Board from 1997 to 2001 and on the City Council representing Ward 6 from 2002 to 2008. Councilor Rene Bernier, who served with Mark and me on the City Council, said in her statement that “over the course of the last 14 years, he also served on six other boards and committees.”
Councilor Bernier also said in her press statement: “Needless to say, Mark’s record of public service reveals much about his dedication to this community and his desire to make it an even better place to live. Public service was a way of life for Mark, both in terms of his own contributions as well as supporting his wife Ronnie’s civic engagement, which includes her employment as a public health nurse, multiple terms as a School Committee member, and her involvement with the L-A Public Health Committee.”
Mark and Ronnie Paradis were the loving parents of their son Phillip. I have watched Phillip grow up from a small child to adulthood. He was an altar server, and I always thought he might become a priest. I have lost touch but know that he now lives in Kentucky.
Mark Paradis was a class act all the way to his dying breath. His current campaign for mayor was again a class act and one that those of us who supported him could be very proud; his campaign was positive in every sense of the word while always having a vision for a brighter future for our All-America City.
I’m certain that with Mark’s positive attitude, when he arrived at Heaven’s Gate on Friday and St. Peter asked him, “How are you Mark?”, Mark’s response, no doubt, was, “The best, always the best!”
That was Mark Paradis, a man for his family and his community and always with a positive attitude. His legacy will live on and he will be deeply missed!
See Mayor Gilbert’s personal blog at www.MayorLarryGilbert.com.