WATERVILLE — Three Democrats and a Republican who were Waterville officials when Paul LePage held office there described the governor Tuesday as outspoken and opinionated, but not racist.

LePage has sparked controversy since he told a North Berwick audience last week that more than 90 percent of the drug dealers arrested in Maine this year are black or Hispanic. He has reiterated that argument several times since, and left a profanity-laced voice mail on the cell phone of Democratic legislator from Westbrook who criticized the governor’s racially charged comments.

LePage was mayor of Waterville from 2004 to 2010 and was on the City Council for two terms before that.

Waterville lawyer David Geller, a Republican who served on the city’s Charter Commission when LePage was a city councilor and mayor, said LePage was “a really good guy.” Geller was the only Waterville Republican to comment Tuesday afternoon.

“He’s very smart and I was in the Rotary Club with him, and I never saw a red flag of him being racist,” Geller said. “He says things that definitely – appropriately – make people upset. I don’t think that he’s saying the things about the drug epidemic for any other reason than trying to address the drug epidemic.”

City Democrats who worked with LePage said he had strong opinions.


“Frankly, I don’t expect Paul to resign. I just think he’s too strong-headed and stubborn to do anything like that,” Democratic City Council Chairman John O’Donnell said. “I think he’s convinced he’s right and everyone else is wrong.”

O’Donnell, who was a councilor for several years when LePage was mayor, knows him well and says he likes him. LePage adopted and raised a black child, and O’Donnell said he doesn’t think the governor is a “full-blooded racist.”

“But certainly his comments regarding drugs coming into Maine have racial overtones,” he said.

Dana Sennett, a Democratic former council chairman and mayor, said he thinks LePage is speaking out of frustration with the drug problem in Maine.

“He’s speaking out in vulgarities and he’s not thinking about what he’s saying,” Sennett said. “I don’t think Paul’s a racist. I think he was trying to make reference to the fact that people of color were being arrested on drug charges. However, I don’t think he’s reviewed the facts. I just feel he’s bringing attention – that we have a drug problem, that these people were standing out because of color.”

Sennett says he does not think LePage should resign.


“I think he should be censured. I think that would be the appropriate thing to do and be advised by the full Legislature that this type of language and actions won’t be tolerated on the state level,” Sennett said.

Sennett said he worked well with LePage, and that the governor probably has some good ideas.

“But he’s proven he’s not an effective leader,” he said. “I think he means well, but he doesn’t play well in the sand box.”

Former council chairman Fred Stubbert, also a Democrat, also said he does not think LePage is racist.

“Paul is French Canadian and has been looked down on in Maine ever since he was a kid, so he knows what this is about,” Stubbert said. “I do not believe he is a racist, but my feeling is that the pressure is kind of getting to him.”

Stubbert says he does not think LePage should resign.


“I think he may need some help, though. He needs to calm down a bit,” Stubbert said. “I’m a Democrat and I’ve been in Maine most of my life. When I was a young kid, Maine was a Republican state. … I think it’s healthy to have an active two-party system in Maine and I think that’s why Paul should stay on as governor until his term is over.”

Stubbert said he worked well with LePage, and that the governor has many friends who are Democrats.

“I have a great deal of respect for Paul,” he said. “Paul’s a very bright man. A lot of times he says things to get attention and make his point. He’s a very opinionated person, and sometimes the facts are not what people want to hear.”


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