STANDISH — A divided Town Council approved 4-3 last week a resolution supporting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.

Councilors Brian Libby, Walter Butler and Gregory LeClerc, along with Sarah Gaba, who introduced the resolution, voted in favor of it. Councilors Joseph Paul, Michael Delcourt and Kimberly Pomerleau voted against it.

Gaba said she sponsored the LGBTQ resolution “in response to an alleged hate crime that is currently under investigation in our community,” she said.

Gaba

A wooden sign painted with colors of the Pride flag posted at Standish Center and several of its replacements were vandalized, stolen or destroyed with a chainsaw last month. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office is conducting a criminal investigation into the chainsaw incident and has charged a female juvenile with criminal mischief in another of the incidents. Three more Pride signs were stolen earlier this week.

While the resolution is simply a statement, not a policy matter, Gaba said that “Standish should not be complacent to this kind of behavior because complacency sends a message of acceptance.”

She quoted a Saint Joseph’s College faculty member who had reached out to her: “I was saddened that new and returning SJC students might think that Standish or SJC is not a place for them.”

A resident at the meeting who identified herself only as Samantha said the resolution is a step in the right direction.

“I’m here, I’m queer, I pay taxes and I vote. If the Town Council wants to energize its constituents to make positive changes and progress in Standish, we ought to endorse any measure that makes it safer and more welcoming for all residents to participate in town governance.”

LeClerc said the resolution is a “rebuke” against the discrimination that took place in Standish against the LGBTQ community.

“For us to say, ‘no, we want to include everyone else’ is just trying to dilute and kind of dismiss what actually took place,” LeClerc said. 

In speaking against the resolution, Delcourt said a Town Council candidate had 14 of their signs stolen.

“You don’t hear them down here complaining about it,” he said.

He also said that he was “not supporting this resolution simply because I already support it.”

When reached for comment Tuesday, Delcourt denied he made that statement.

“It’s just a ploy for a fella to get his name in the paper. It’s (expletive),” Delcourt said, referring to the vandalized Pride sign’s owner, Tim Goodwin, who is running for a House District 23 seat in November as an independent.

Goodwin’s name was not cited in the resolution or in any of the council discussion about it. He was at the council meeting but did not speak.

Delcourt said that the LGBTQ community shouldn’t have “special privileges more than any other people … the federal government has laws to protect those people.”

He then went on to say that he supports the LGBTQ “people wholeheartedly. I do not support Black Lives Matter. That is a racist, violent organization,” which echoed a similar statement he made during the July 15 meeting.

The resolution makes no mention of the Black Lives Matter movement nor the organization of the same name.

Paul and Pomerleau said they were not fully opposed to resolution, but wanted to see the language changed to include all Standish residents.

“I do support your cause but I support all lives,” Pomerleau said. When asked if she would consider amending the language, Gaba declined.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Gaba said the Pride signs that were destroyed are specific to the LGBTQ community, which is why her resolution was also specific.

“(The Pride sign) was a sign that represents them that was destroyed in the alleged hate crime. So, all residents weren’t necessarily affected by that,” she said.

Former Town Councilor Steve Nesbitt, speaking as a “concerned citizen,” said Wednesday that it was “disappointing” to see the three councilors vote against the resolution.

“Their reasoning did not register and they chose to support intolerance,” Nesbitt said.

Capt. Don Foss of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said they are still investigating a suspect who they say chainsawed the sign. The District Attorney’s Office asked the CCSO for further information after its initial review for criminal mischief charges. Foss said he hopes to return the case to the DA within the next week.

The CCSO has also referred the same case to the attorney general for a civil rights violation.

Suspects’ names are not made public until charges have been filed.

In a separate but related incident, Foss said the DA declined to file charges against a man who threatened Goodwin and another resident, Laura Haney, last month when they were fixing one of the damaged signs. The suspect yelled gay slurs at them as he placed his hand on the open-carry gun at his hip, Foss said.

The CCSO is also investigating the theft of the three signs this week.

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