Call for civility with your vote

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In the heat of the outrage over Gov. LePage’s unseemly voicemail to Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, I was impressed that Westbrook held a rally, not for revenge, but for decency, and that they invited two representatives of religious organizations to speak.

I was there as president of the Maine Council of Churches.

I am impressed once again that, without being asked, political candidates in Westbrook have signed a formal pledge to be respectful to each other when they campaign. It is the Maine Council of Churches’ Covenant for Civil Discourse and can be found on our website www.mainecouncilofchurches.org. It lists six ways they will be civil, from refraining from personal attacks to refusing to make untrue statements.

The covenant was intended for about 400 Congressional and legislative candidates who were directly solicited by the council via email. About half have signed. Westbrook candidates took the initiative to proactively sign on their own.

Because of our concern that civic discourse has plummeted into the nether world of nastiness, the council asked Maine’s former U.S. Sen George Mitchell for help. Last week he spoke at an event we sponsored in Waterville on the topic “From Mudslinging to Mutual Respect: How to make Politics More Civil.” (It will be aired on Maine Public TV Sunday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m.)

I think it’s important to reiterate what he said. He told us that everyone can play a role in reversing these hateful trends by speaking out and contributing their time, effort and money to effect change.

And we can vote.

“It is through the ballot box that we not only can choose our public officials, but we can show our values as a nation,” he said.

Bonny Rodden

President, Maine Council of Churches