Colby College students, from left, Anna Braverman, Lutie Brown and Colleen George are sworn in to testify before the Waterville Voter Registration Appeals board during a hearing in Waterville regarding voter eligibility on May 1. (Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming/Staff Photographer)

WATERVILLE — Colby College students whose voting rights were challenged confronted Mayor Nick Isgro on Tuesday, saying they felt hurt and alienated by his questioning of their right to vote and asking that he represent them as he does other city residents.

“I love Waterville and I feel incredibly lucky to be a resident of this city,” Colby student Maggie White told Isgro at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “As a resident, I am one of your constituents. I am deeply hurt by your choice to alienate and disenfranchise me instead of representing me the same way you would any of the other residents in the town you govern. I am here tonight to ask you to use the power of your office to advocate for the people of your city. I am one of these people, and I am here and eager to work together for the good of Waterville.”

White and Colby student Noa Gutow-Ellis stood before a packed Chace Community Forum room, four days after the Waterville Registration Appeals Board voted unanimously to uphold their voting rights and those of dozens of other students and Colby faculty and staff members.

Residents Cathy and Jonathan Weeks and Shaun Caron challenged their rights to vote and the board held hearings for a day and a half, during which both sides presented their cases.

The Appeals Board decision represents the latest step in attempts to resolve a conflict over the outcome of a referendum on whether to ban plastic shopping bags and a simultaneous effort to challenge voter registrations.

Isgro opposed the plastic bag ban, which voters approved Nov. 6. He also questions the rights of college students who come to Waterville from other states to vote in the city.

Gutow-Ellis took Isgro to task Tuesday about a Facebook message he posted May 2 that questions college students’ right to vote.

“Mayor Isgro wrote on Facebook, yet again, ‘Is it moral or ethical for college students from other states to be allowed to vote in local races, like city council and mayor, and on local referendum and city policies?’” Gutow-Ellis said.

Gutow-Ellis said she loves Waterville, has lived here nearly four years and is not sure what it would take to be considered a “full member of our city.”

“Instead of shaming us on Facebook, I wish you, too, would make an effort to get to know the Waterville citizens and Colby community members that you absolutely represent,” she told Isgro. “I have made every effort to get to know and appreciate my Waterville neighbors, and it would be appreciated if you would extend the same courtesy to us.”

She thanked the Appeals Board and City Clerk and Registrar Patti Dubois for their patience and diligence at the hearings and said that while she felt heartened by the outcome she is “disappointed in the representation of our city.”

Isgro did not respond to White and Gutow-Ellis’ comments at the meeting. Email and voice mail messages left Wednesday for Isgro, specifically asking what he thought about their comments, were not returned immediately.

Resident Stu Silverstein, who supported the plastic bag ban, wanted to know just how much the voting challenge will cost the city.

“Why should the city have to pay for these frivolous challenges?” he asked.

Though no one answered his question Tuesday, City Solicitor William A. Lee III, who represented the Appeals Board at the hearings, estimated last week that the amount could reach $25,000. Contacted Wednesday, Lee said he planned to develop a total of the costs.

Meanwhile, after the Colby students spoke Tuesday, Cathy Weeks and resident Julian Payne defended the voter challenge, citing reasons including that some people had voted in the wrong ward, using post office box numbers as their addresses.

Those who defended their right to vote said students have boxes in Colby buildings where they receive their mail, but they are not actual post office boxes.

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