What has happened to Augusta’s elephants, symbol of the Republican Party? Slowly, but surely, Maine’s capital city, site of state government, has morphed into something resembling a one-party system at the municipal level.

While you weren’t watching, Augusta city government became a bastion of Democratic officeholders. In a city where the municipal ballot is supposed to be nonpartisan, one party — by accident I think, not necessarily by design — seems to have taken over.

At the beginning of next year, the Augusta City Council lineup likely will look like this:

• Ward 1, Linda Conti, Planning Board member and an assistant attorney general, is a Democrat. She recently stated, “We have enough businesses in Augusta.” Conti is opposed by two unenrolled candidates, former councilors Stan Koski and Mary Mayo-Wescott.

• Ward 2, Derek Grant is secretary of Maine Senate Democrats.

• Ward 3, Pat Paradis is a former assistant Democratic majority leader of the Maine House of Representatives.


• Ward 4, Anna Blodgett is a former Democratic state representative.

• At large: Dale McCormick is a former Democrat state senator, representative and state treasurer; Cecil Munson is a longtime Democratic activist; Jeff Bilodeau, Green Party, is a friend of Paradis and Munson.

Conti was recruited by councilors McCormick, Paradis and Munson.

If Councilor At-large Dave Rollins is elected mayor, then he must be replaced on the council. Planning Board member Delaine Nye, McCormick’s campaign manager in the last election, is considered the leading contender for that seat. She is campaigning with and for Conti in Ward 1.

And, oh yes, if you didn’t know, City Manager Bill Bridgeo is an ardent Democrat.

Does all of this mean anything? As my late grandfather used to say, “Time will tell.” I think that it would be safe to say that Augusta city government will be well-populated with politicians who are pretty much of the same mind philosophically and politically. If you are fairly liberal, then this won’t concern you; however if you are more conservative, then maybe it will.


So, City Council will have an entirely new look in 2015. It will include several quite aggressive members, and I predict that they may be a handful for the next mayor to control during meetings.

The identifiably progressive-liberal McCormick, now that she is well into her freshman term, likely will take the lead, because that is her personality and history, according to those who know her best. Paradis, however, feels he has earned the leadership role, which outgoing Councilor Mike Byron calls “President of the City Council.”

Paradis is an excellent speaker, a parliamentarian and has the votes and support of councilors Munson and Bilodeau. He still hopes to eventually become mayor, but needs to spend some time outside Ward 3.

The two candidates for mayor on the ballot, Dave Rollins and Bill Dowling, are both unenrolled (independent). Mike Byron is running as a write-in candidate for mayor. In keeping with the theme of this column, it might be interesting to note that Dowling, a former mayor, is employed by Kevin Mattson, who is former chairman of the state Democratic Party.

The mayor of Augusta has no vote except in a tie. All candidates, however, agree that handling this new council will certainly be a challenge with strong leadership required.

The new composition of City Council is the result of an evolution. Byron, a Republican, and Mark O’Brien, husband of Julie O’Brien, former Republican Party executive director, are term-limited out. Augusta has far more Democrats than Republicans, providing a constant stream of Democrats running for city political office.


If you are a Democrat in this state-employee town then you may find all this of no special consequence, particularly if the city councilors act as individuals representing all of their constituents.

On the other hand, if you worry about the possibility of political partisanship affecting development of the city’s policies toward property taxes and business growth along with the introduction of social issues into city politics, then you might want to consider running for public office yourself next year. It could help balance the scales.

In Augusta city government, the writing is on the wall — 2015 ushers in the year of the Democratic donkey. There will not be a single Republican serving; the conservative Grand Old Party is leaving the city’s political stage.

Have we witnessed the extinction of the elephants (Republicans) in Augusta municipal elections?

Don Roberts, a former city councilor and former vice chairman of the Charter Commission in Augusta, is a trustee of the Greater Augusta Utility District.

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