Lewiston mayoral candidate to continue campaign despite cancer diagnosis

Posted Dec. 08, 2011, at 9:38 a.m.
Lewiston mayoral candidate Mark Paradis announces that he has been diagnosed with cancer in a news conference held at the Lewiston Public Library on Wednesday.
Jose Leiva | Sun Journal
Lewiston mayoral candidate Mark Paradis announces that he has been diagnosed with cancer in a news conference held at the Lewiston Public Library on Wednesday.

LEWISTON, Maine — Mayoral candidate Mark Paradis has used the same phrase to greet people for years, especially when people ask him how he’s doing.

“The best — always the best,” Paradis responds.

A diagnosis of cancer won’t change that, Paradis said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s part of a positive attitude, and that doesn’t change,” Paradis said. “I need that positive attitude now, more than ever.”

Paradis is one of two men seeking the mayor’s chair in a runoff election Dec. 13. Paradis and opponent Robert Macdonald were the top two vote-getters in a field of five in November’s municipal election, but neither collected enough votes to win the mayor’s seat. Paradis got 32 percent and Macdonald got 31. City rules require a mayor to get at least 50 percent, plus one vote.

Paradis said his cancer diagnosis wouldn’t stop him from seeking the job. He said people shouldn’t decide how they’re going to vote based on the diagnosis and he’s still convinced he’s the right man for the job.

“This election is about philosophy, about how to move Lewiston forward,” Paradis said. “I believe our approach is the right one and I want to create a legacy that will outlive all of us.”

Paradis, 59, said he was diagnosed with cancer soon after the municipal election Nov. 8. He would not say what kind of cancer he has, but he said he started radiation treatments that would continue for several more days.

“The results from the biopsy have not come back yet and we don’t expect them until tomorrow or Friday,” Paradis said. “But we do know enough now that we are comfortable doing a first term, and then seeing.”

In a press release issued prior to the news conference, Paradis said his doctors were confident he would be able to complete at least one two-year term.

“I’m not looking to take center stage and create a scene,” Paradis said in the written statement. “This election is not about Mark Paradis versus Bob Macdonald. It is about a way of thinking, a way of doing things, a philosophy.”

Macdonald has promised to use the mayor’s job as a bully pulpit, saying his supporters would fill City Council chambers to pressure the councilors. Macdonald has said he wants to limit subsidized housing in the city.

“I continue to believe that our approach is the right approach ,” Paradis said. “It is one of balance, compassion, listening to each other and thinking problems through using intelligent discussion and reason.”

Paradis has said he hopes to lead councilors like a conductor leads an orchestra, getting them to work together to promote economic development.

“I believe in compassion and listening to one another,” Paradis said during his news conference. “Whether I have cancer or not, I am the right person to lead this city.”

Paradis said he decided to stay in the race after consulting with his family and friends. He decided to make his diagnosis public because he has pledged to be honest with voters.

“I felt that being truthful to voters meant there were no exceptions, so I decided to disclose my condition,” he said. “If I am fortunate to be elected, I will not waste any time for the people of Lewiston.”

Wednesday’s conference was attended by Paradis’ wife, Ronella, supporters, Ward 3 Councilor-elect Nathan Libby and incumbent Ward 7 City Councilor Stephen Morgan, a cancer survivor who pledged his support to Paradis.

“There are literally thousands of cancer survivors in the Twin Cities that are going to stand with you and stand by you and think you are the right man for the job,” Morgan said. “You have our support, I know.”

Macdonald, Paradis opponent, said he is hopeful for Paradis.

“Hang in there,” Macdonald said. “I beat it myself.”

Macdonald said he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer about 18 months ago. It was caught very early and was taken care of quickly.

“I’m sorry [Paradis] has it,” he said. “I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. I don’t know how bad he has it or what it is, but he should just hang in there. You can beat this stuff as long as you hang in there. If you give up, that’s when you lose. If you hang in and fight it, you can win.”

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