There have been many questions during this election cycle about the Westbrook Democratic caucus held for the local election this year. We were the only municipality in Maine continuing to use only the caucus system until the charter was changed in 2013. Once the new charter was approved by the citizens of Westbrook, we then became more like other communities in the respect that we now allow party candidates to use nomination papers to run for office, as well.
What does this mean? It means that we now, like other municipalities, can have more than one candidate from each party run for the same office, such as is happening with this election. Some have questioned the commitment candidates have to their party because they didn’t accept the caucus nominations and still chose to run for office. My question is, why shouldn’t they still run for office if they feel they are the best candidate for the position and our city charter allows them to do so? Isn’t that part of the democratic process?
The changes in our charter are just another indication of how this city is evolving. From all the people I have talked to during this election, it is very clear that people in Westbrook are tired of the same old, same old and they want change. There seems to be a small group of people, in particular, who have an issue with Mike Sanphy taking out nomination papers to run for mayor. Mike was very respectful to Mayor Hilton by waiting to decide whether or not he was running until she announced that she wasn’t running again. From that point forward, Mike was very clear with everyone that he was running no matter what. Should he have accepted the results of the caucus and stood by the Democratic candidate who won that nomination even though that candidate has lived here for only a year and doesn’t have the experience to be the mayor of this city? Absolutely not, and our charter allowed him to stand up for what is right.
We should be voting for the best candidate regardless of how their name ended up on the ballot, and my vote will be for Mike Sanphy because he is the best choice overall.
Former Westbrook city clerk
Ward 5 city councilor-elect (unopposed)