Shortly after being sworn in as mayor, Kristen Cloutier, center, and other Lewiston City Council members vote on a motion Tuesday evening. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham

LEWISTON — Elected officials released a letter Wednesday denouncing the recently revealed texts of former Mayor Shane Bouchard while reassuring constituents that city leaders represent the entire community.

The letter to the Sun Journal does not mention Bouchard by name, but says elected officials representing Lewiston “are deeply troubled by the recent display of racist and sexist commentary in our community.”

Bouchard resigned Friday after more than 150 of his texts were made public, including one in which he told a racist joke and one in which he seemed to compare a meeting with his fellow Republicans to a Ku Klux Klan gathering. In another, when asked what it would take to make his night better, Bouchard responds, “Do you know a set of 20-year-old blonde twins?”

The texts were released by Heather Everly Berube, who announced during a City Council meeting March 5 that she had given Bouchard internal emails from opponent Ben Chin during the 2017 mayoral campaign, in a covert effort to boost Bouchard’s chances of winning.

The statement Wednesday, released the morning after Council President Kristen Cloutier was sworn in as mayor, attempts to reassure constituents that their elected officials stand by them.

“All members of our community deserve to be represented by their elected officials,” according to the letter. “Respect for everyone in our community is of the utmost importance to each of us and we believe that all residents should feel safe, secure and included. We want all our constituents to know that we support them.”

The letter was submitted to the Sun Journal by Ward 3 Councilor Alicia Rea on behalf of interim Mayor Kristen Cloutier, Lewiston’s legislative delegation and “the majority of the Lewiston City Council.”

“I think it’s leadership to say something in the face of that, rather than silence and total complicity,” Rea said Wednesday. “I don’t think that’s anything we all want, but at the same time we are elected officials and we do play some role in the events that played out last week.”

Rea said she had been working on a joint statement ever since Bouchard’s comments came to light. As the Ward 3 councilor, which represents one of the city’s most diverse downtown districts, Rea said she felt a real need to “acknowledge that some really hurtful things were said to and about members of our community” and to show her neighbors that “we stand with them, not against them or silently.”

She said the statement was released in this way — rather than an official City Council resolve — because the city is still involved in a joint investigation with the Maine Attorney General’s Office into other allegations Berube leveled against Bouchard.

Lewiston police Lt. David St. Pierre said Wednesday the department is “still investigating with the Attorney General’s Office and no more information is yet available.”

In a separate statement Wednesday, Attorney General’s Office spokesman Marc Malon said it is “assisting the Lewiston PD investigating the matter of the former mayor. As it is ongoing, it would not be appropriate to comment at this point.”

Rea said the letter from elected officials also doesn’t mention Bouchard by name “because I don’t think that’s in the spirit of moving us forward.”

“I think coming together shows members of our community that we are looking out for their best interest even when maybe we can’t so publicly denounce a person and their own remarks,” she said.

Only one councilor, Michael Marcotte, opted not to be included in the joint statement.

Marcotte, the Ward 7 councilor, told the Sun Journal the letter was never discussed between the full membership of the City Council. He said the statement should have been discussed and composed in an open forum to “provide full transparency to the Lewiston public.”

“I do not disagree with the content of the message. But, I do firmly disagree with the process of its creation,” he said Wednesday.

Marcotte works part-time at the Sun Journal as a sports clerk.

In an email Wednesday, Cloutier said each member of the council was asked whether he or she wanted to be included in the letter.

“I chose to be included because I feel these comments were hurtful to many members of our community and I believe that every one of our residents deserves to be represented and supported by their elected officials,” she said.

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Staff Writer Christopher Williams contributed to this report.

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