2017-01-26 / Front Page

Local celebration, protest surround inauguration

Republicans gather in OOB, Dems march in women’s events
By Anthony Aloisio
Contributing Writer


John Carson, left, and York County Maine Republican Committee Chairman Jim Booth. Carson served as the delegate for Maine at 2016's Republican National Convention in Cleveland. "I think our participation in the process is very important," Carson said. "Because if you and I don't participate, those who are in office will forget that they're there to serve us." (Anthony Aloisio photo) John Carson, left, and York County Maine Republican Committee Chairman Jim Booth. Carson served as the delegate for Maine at 2016's Republican National Convention in Cleveland. "I think our participation in the process is very important," Carson said. "Because if you and I don't participate, those who are in office will forget that they're there to serve us." (Anthony Aloisio photo) OLD ORCHARD BEACH/KENNEBUNK – The presidential inauguration was occasion for both celebration and protest in York County, as it was around the world. On the evening of Jan. 20, the day of inauguration, the York County Maine Republican Committee hosted a gala at Dunegrass Country Club in Old Orchard Beach, which served as a celebration of the inauguration of President Donald Trump, and as a fundraiser for the Maine Republican party.

“One of the most important things about today is that we have this peaceful transition of power every four years,” said Michael Coleman, a Republican of Old Orchard Beach, who recently lost a campaign for Maine House District 13, now held by incumbent George Hogan. “We do this by votes and ballots under a constitutional system. It’s not about swords and bombs and bullets and siege engines, like things have been in the past.”


Biddeford resident Natalie Kelliher attended the national Woman’s March in Washington, D.C., Saturday, Jan. 21. Transportation was tight, at times, she said. (Courtesy photo) Biddeford resident Natalie Kelliher attended the national Woman’s March in Washington, D.C., Saturday, Jan. 21. Transportation was tight, at times, she said. (Courtesy photo) The night’s celebration was also an important opportunity to raise funds, according to Republican committee’s Chairman Jim Booth. Attendees at the event paid $25, according to Coleman. Booth said the funds would go toward campaigns for local and state offices in 2018. It would be important then for the Republican Party to keep the governor’s office, he said, as well as local offices. Booth said that he also hoped to see Sen. Angus King, whom he called “a charlatan,” unseated at the federal level.


From left, Jim McCarthy, vice chairman of York County Republicans, Sarah Cogmata, state committeewoman for York County; and Mike Clukey, York County committee member at-large. (Anthony Aloisio photo) From left, Jim McCarthy, vice chairman of York County Republicans, Sarah Cogmata, state committeewoman for York County; and Mike Clukey, York County committee member at-large. (Anthony Aloisio photo) “He votes 95 percent with the Democrats,” Booth said of King, who is an Independent.

On the new president, Booth said the first effect Trump has had on the York County community is “optimism.” The administration of former president Barack Obama and the campaign of democrat Hillary Clinton had been “a big black cloud,” over the country, Booth said.

When asked what more practical effects the new federal government would have on the area, Booth said that Maine’s tourism would benefit.


Maine women were among the millions of people throughout the world who participated in protests the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. (Courtesy photo) Maine women were among the millions of people throughout the world who participated in protests the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. (Courtesy photo) “People vacation more when the economy is good,” he said.

Booth was also hopeful that having a president like Trump, who was regarded as an outsider during the campaign, would “expand the tent” of the Republican Party, and bring in more types of Republican voters.

Jim McCarthy, vice chairman of the York County Republican Committee, pointed out the new president’s talk of increased defense spending as a source of optimism.

“A lot of York people work at Bath Iron Works,” McCarthy said.

He said he was hopeful that more contracts at Bath Iron Works, a shipyard which services the United States Navy, as well as Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, would mean more jobs for people in York County.

Asked about protest rallies and marches planned for the day after inauguration, McCarthy said he thought it was a waste of energy.

“They can protest all they want, it’s not going to have any effect,” he said. “If only they put as much energy as they put protesting into working volunteering at a nursing home or assisting a disabled person, instead of into protesting.”

There were events in protest of the new administration around Maine, as well as around the world, although none in Maine were formally organized by Maine Democrats, according to York County Democratic Committee Chairman Nancy Stolberg. According to Diane Denk, a Democrat from Kennebunk who in November lost a campaign for Maine House District 9, the largest events were in Portland and Augusta, and they were all associated with the “Women’s March on Washington,” a rally in Washington, D.C. The event that Denk attended took place in Kennebunk, outside town hall.

“It was very exciting, very energizing, very positive,” Denk said.

She said that nothing was distinct about the Kennebunk event, except that the town is the home of former President George H.W. Bush and his family.

“The Bushes are respectful of us, and they’re respectful of women,” Denk said. “Everybody feels the pain of seeing George and Barbara Bush going through health issues.”

“I think Barbara Bush probably would have been out here, if she could have,” Denk added, with a laugh. “I just find the new administration is counter to the values of as many good Republicans as it is good Democrats.”

When asked to respond to McCarthy’s statement that the events would have no effect, Denk said “I think that’s what he would like to believe.”

“I felt that part of the gathering (that day) was the start of a very strong movement,” Denk continued. “I’m a child of the ’60s, I know a movement when I see one. What I see is not a bunch of sore losers, the way we are being portrayed, but an opportunity to engage positively, and try to figure out some creative positive solutions, to try and ensure that every vote and every voice counts.”

Denk also said that she has seen political will gathering behind Democrats in other places.

“Our local organization, Democrats of the Kennebunks and Arundel, met a week ago last Saturday,” she said. “A typical Saturday morning meeting in January would draw 12 people, 15 if we were lucky. We had 50 people. Those 50 people came in and said ‘we want to make an action plan.’”

Natalie Kelliher, a Biddeford resident, attended the main Women’s March in Washington, D.C. along with a friend from Maine. Kelliher said that when they arrived in the city, conditions were crowded.

“The train was packed and hardly had room for people to enter at each stop,” Kelliher wrote in an email. “We soon found out many of the downtown DC stations were closed to incoming trains because they did not have the capacity to let off any more people.”

She said that, while there, they formed a bond with two strangers--who she said were themselves from Texas--when they had cooperate to solve the transportation problem. They met by chance, Kelliher said, and ended up sharing a ride from an Uber driver to navigate around the traffic problems.

“I loved the bond I made with two total strangers,” she said. “I plan on sending them some thank you gifts and a card once I get home to Maine on Thursday. It was such an amazing experience seeing so many people standing up for what is right. I am honored to have been a part of it, and though I am still sore and blistered and bruised I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.”

At the Republicans’ inaugural gala in Old Orchard Beach, one guest had a special reason to celebrate the recent election. John Carson of Kittery, who is 87, said he has been a Republican for a long time, and in 2016 he was honored to be a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I was a delegate for Maine,” Carson said. “Actually, I was an alternate. Gov. (Paul) LePage was the delegate, and he did not show, and I was privileged to step in for him.”

“Going to the convention was one of my dreams – one of my bucket list (items), let’s put it that way,” Carson added.

Carson said he was hopeful for the new administration, but added caution.

“I think the new administration is starting out on a very positive note,” he said. “Now, what we need to understand is we can’t let the people in Washington do everything. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. We have to work at the problem, or it’ll all go back to Washington, and they’ll just do whatever they want. It’s the responsibility of every citizen to be participatory in the process. That means locally, state-wide, and nationally. If we leave it to somebody else, we may not like what we get.”

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