This time of year is full of hope and excitement. I love reading about business acquisitions, career advancements, job changes and new organizational leadership. They are the opening chapters rather than epilogues at the end of a story.

What isn’t reported in these announcements are the circumstances under which change occurred. They always are about moving forward, not looking back.

However brief, these notices suggest that people doing the hiring have done their homework to ensure the skills, accomplishments and personalities fit the work at hand.

In the world of political parties, the Republican State Committee recently re-elected Charlie Webster as its chair for another two-year term.

Webster has been credited as the architect of the 2010 GOP sweep of the Maine Legislature and governor’s office. His credentials are sound and his work speaks for itself.

Though he’s an old political hand, leading a majority party is brand-new and exciting territory for Webster and his colleagues. With all the challenges facing Maine, we should wish them well.

Soon, the Democratic State Committee in Maine will select a chair to lead the party for the next two years. Let us hope the Democrats are doing an equally rigorous job of screening the candidates.

After all, the person who chairs a state party is the champion of the cause and the one expected to constantly challenge the policies of the opposition.

The party leader needs to be fair yet relentless in offering policy alternatives while raising both awareness and money to elect the party’s slate of candidates.

Right now, the Maine Democratic Party must recover from more than election losses.

There was a loss of faith between its party organization and many of its workers and donors.

Large numbers of Democrats abandoned their candidate for governor to support either Paul LePage or independent Eliot Cutler.

Though many factors came into play, a lot of people were repulsed by divisive and dishonest advertising by the party apparatus, particularly the unfair attacks against Cutler for his ties to Chinese businesses.

Call it hubris, ill-advised or mean-spirited, the attacks made it appear that there was no adult supervision at party headquarters.

In reaction, some Democrats have withdrawn their support from the party while others have closed their checkbooks.

That is why the selection of officers for the next two years is so important. It will signal whether the party will move forward or remain tarnished by its most recent actions.

Will the Democrats keep those responsible for the attacks in leadership roles or will they start fresh?

This self-examination is familiar territory for the Republicans.

They, too, have committed errors in their past that have backfired with the public and their members. Nevertheless, they recovered, moved forward and succeeded.

The reality is that the Maine Democratic Party will recover. Those who today feel estranged by the acts of party officials may return to the roost as soon as Republicans implement policies with which they fundamentally disagree.

Activists will rally behind the re-election campaign of President Obama. Incumbent Democrats who barely survived the 2010 elections will try to broaden their appeal to avoid being swept from office as so many were by the electoral tsunami in November.

What these Democratic incumbents and aspiring candidates cannot afford is having a wild card running party headquarters.

We hope a leader will emerge who has discipline, experience, civility and trust — someone who can elevate policy differences to a level that allows voters to make informed decisions on substantive issues. Maine people do not want a repeat of the muck and mire of 2010.

With independents outnumbering Democrats and Republicans, neither party can afford to alienate voters.

No matter who leads the party, he or she will have to make the case that the voters were somehow mistaken in putting Republicans in charge and that Democrats have a better and more responsible solution. That is a tall order, given the state of the state.

The Republicans won the argument in 2010 and have no intention of relinquishing their majority.

Maine Democrats’ first step toward redemption will be to elect a leader who epitomizes fairness, accuracy and civility.

Let’s wish them the best of luck, as well.

Better yet, let’s get involved one way or the other in the electoral process and make a difference in the new year.

What do you think and what are you going to do about it? 

Tony Payne is a lifelong resident of Maine who is active in business, civic and political affairs. He may be reached at: [email protected]