FREEPORT — Republican Gov. Paul LePage was repeatedly heckled by several members of the audience Tuesday night in one of the more contentious of the town hall-style meetings he has been holding around the state.

At one point, several people walked out of the meeting after arguing with the governor about his opposition to providing state welfare benefits for asylum seekers.

When LePage started talking about where state aid was being spent and how asylum seekers and illegal immigrants were receiving funds that could be spent on the state’s poor and elderly, an unidentified woman stood up and started screaming “shame on you, shame on you governor.”

James Roux, the Freeport man who was recently accused of harassment by the Freeport Flag Ladies yelled, “where are you going to send them (asylum seekers)” as he was leaving.

“Thank you very much and have a nice evening,” LePage said as the spectators left.

Gov. Paul LePage told Rep. Sara Gideon that her superiors in the Legislature should work with him.

Gov. Paul LePage told Rep. Sara Gideon that her superiors in the Legislature should work with him.

Tuesday evening’s meeting at the Freeport Public Library began the same as several others with the governor spending about 20 minutes talking about his vision for the state, including ways to further reduce the income tax, reform welfare, cut energy costs, find ways to address Maine’s student debt burden, and curb the state’s heroin epidemic.


“I’m not here to preach to you or to try to get you to look at things my way,” LePage said in his opening remarks.

Instead, LePage said, he wants Mainers to focus on their legislators and what they are doing in Augusta to meet constituents’ needs. He also warned the audience against reading newspaper accounts of what is happening in Augusta.

“If you pay to buy a newspaper in Maine, you are paying someone to lie to you,” LePage said.

LePage said he wants the state, communities and law enforcement to take a stronger stand against people apprehended for drug dealing.

“I believe people selling heroin in this state are murderers,” LePage said. Last month, LePage made remarks suggesting he believed the death penalty would be appropriate for drug traffickers.

After the governor’s presentation, he fielded questions from the audience, most of them written down before the meeting.


“How would you define a socialist, since you’ve used that term to describe legislators?” asked Chalmers Hardenbergh of Freeport.

“It’s not a hate word,” LePage replied. “Actually, it’s very simple. There is no amount of money they wouldn’t spend on their agenda.”

Rep. Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, told the media after the meeting that she was proud of the people who came to Tuesday night's meeting and opposed the governor’s positions.

Rep. Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, told the media after the meeting that she was proud of the people who came to Tuesday night’s meeting and opposed the governor’s positions.

When House Assistant Majority Leader Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, asked if she could pose a question to the governor, Adrienne Bennett, LePage’s press secretary, initially refused because Gideon had not written the question down, but LePage agreed to let Gideon speak.

Gideon asked LePage what the two parties could do together to stem the loss of jobs in the state’s pulp and paper industry.

LePage responded that Gideon needed to stop taking orders from her superiors, to which Gideon said that Speaker of the House Mark Eves and Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond were her peers, not her bosses.

LePage replied that he hoped she never became House speaker, a comment that he later clarified by saying he hoped a Democrat would not hold that position.


After the town hall meeting ended, Gideon told several reporters that she did not find the governor’s remarks offensive, adding that she was proud that the people of Freeport and Pownal stood up to oppose the governor’s positions.

The meeting, which lasted just over an hour, drew an overflow crowd including about a half-dozen state lawmakers. Many people stood outside the room to hear the governor speak.

After the meeting ended, Democratic state Sen. Stan Gerzofsky of Brunswick said he found the governor’s comments offensive.

“Mark Eves is not her boss, the people sitting in this room are,” Gerzofsky said.

Bennett said another town hall meeting would be held next week, but she did not specify where or when.


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