BIDDEFORD — This past election season was not a particularly pleasant one for some of the candidates who ran for office, and, more importantly, for the Maine citizens who observed this most recent display of political nastiness.

Endless negative political ads, attempting to vilify and “tear down” opposing candidates, seemingly appeared hourly on television screens across Maine. Many were misleading, mean-spirited and unnecessarily personal in nature. The unflattering political negativity reached a level that ultimately became demeaning to the democratic election process itself.

Now that the election is over, the expectations are that elected leaders will work together to address the issues that face Maine and the United States. How can that happen? There is little incentive or willingness for newly elected or re-elected officials to work with and trust members of an opposing political party when that same party worked to destroy their reputations.

GOVERNOR’S RACE A CASE IN POINT

As a result, accurate, meaningful discussions of ideology, voting records and thoughts on future directions for both our state and country continue to take a back seat to the mud-slinging.

One example was the race for governor of Maine between Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

Many of the negative comments made about Gov. LePage were serious, personal attacks, based mostly on statements he made. Conversely, attacks on congressman Michaud were misleading ads questioning his record and his integrity. That’s unfortunate.

Mike Michaud is a good, honest man. I believe he would have made a great governor. His record as a public servant has proven that, time and time again. Too bad he will no longer be serving Maine – at least for now.

As for Gov. LePage, I don’t agree with those who try to depict him as some kind of monster who has taken over the Blaine House. I believe he is a person of conviction who does his best to push for those issues that are important to him and those who support him. Many times Gov. LePage worked to resolve those problems with those who disagreed with him. This kind of give and take is a normal part of governing and politics, and Gov. LePage is as good at it as anyone.

In the past, Gov. LePage had often stated that he was “not your typical politician.”

He may be correct in that assessment. That can be either good or bad. The governor is direct, straightforward and expresses quickly what’s on his mind. On several occasions, he’s found himself on the defensive because of questionable, off-the-cuff remarks made toward people or on various issues.

Subsequently, political opponents, social media users and some print media responded by making their own disparaging remarks, aiming them directly at Gov. LePage. An “embarrassment,” a “joke,” a “buffoon,” a “sleaze ball,” a “bully” were just some of the comments launched his way.

Mainers can correctly assume that the governor and his family were as hurt by these comments as those who were hurt by the governor’s comments. The difference – Gov. LePage spoke bluntly and without thinking of the negative repercussions some of his remarks would cause. Those who attacked him thought carefully about what to say, then spoke or wrote their words. Neither one is admirable. We can debate which is worse.

More recently, it does appear that Gov. LePage has become more deliberate in the comments he makes. Let’s hope that continues from everyone. A negative atmosphere serves no good purpose in the advancement of this state.

The office of governor deserves respect. So does Paul LePage. He is our governor. Equally so, state senators and state representatives deserve the same respect. Moreover, if our elected officials respect each other and opposing positions, we may just constructively move our state forward.

TIME TO RESOLVE DIFFERENCES

After Gov. LePage’s victory, he stated that he was “living the American dream.” I agree. There are many, including myself, who would love to have the same opportunity to make a difference for the people of Maine that the governor now has.

Mainers have their own dreams. They want to be happy, productive and secure about their future. They want Gov. LePage to use the power and tools that accompany his position to help unite Maine and move it forward to safeguard those dreams. They want him to work to bring the political parties together and to find meaningful solutions to the issues facing our state.

To that end, members of both the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives must do their part to not only resolve differences between the two lawmaking bodies, but also do so with Gov. LePage

There will always be political differences. However, meaningful solutions can be found with inclusion and ideological input from both parties. The negatives must be put aside. Maine needs it and the people deserve it. It is time to heal!

— Special to the Telegram