Actor Patrick Dempsey talks with Lewiston, Maine, Mayor Kristen Cloutier and Auburn, Maine, Mayor Jason Levesque prior to the start of the Dempsey Challenge in Lewiston on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. Levesque won a second term as mayor on Tuesday. Credit: Daryn Slover | AP

AUBURN, Maine — Former Republican congressional candidate Jason Levesque will hold onto Auburn’s mayoral seat for another term.

Levesque won 59.4 percent of votes in Tuesday’s election to 40.6 percent for Stanwood “Joe” Gray, a farmer and co-owner of Four Season Farm Market in Auburn, in a race that hinged on the mayor’s plan to develop the agricultural zone in one of Maine’s vastest cities by area.

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“This was a mandate from the city of Auburn,” Levesque said Tuesday night, “that people want continued growth and a higher quality of life.”

The incumbent won his seat in 2015 by just 12 votes after a recount in a race against a Democratic city councilor, perhaps helped by an unpopular Lewiston-Auburn merger proposal that was crushed on the south side of the Androscoggin River.

The city’s agricultural zone was the key issue in Tuesday’s election. In 2018, Levesque formed a committee to study new plans for the area after he disagreed with past recommendations from a different city panel while pushing for looser growth restrictions, according to the Sun Journal.

Levesque has said he wants to attract young farmers to the area. Gray told the Sun Journal that there is “little imminent pressure” for farming there and has advocated for implementing the recommendations of the earlier city panel.

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after time at the Kennebec Journal. He lives in Augusta, graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and has a master's degree from the University...