Because I’ve spent my entire 35-year career developing a reputation for impartial city administration, I must take issue with the characterization of me as an “ardent” Democrat in Thursday’s column by Don Roberts.

The truth is that I am indeed registered to vote as a Democrat. The stretch is the “ardent” characterization.

When I teach college-level government courses, I tell students that democracy is at risk when citizens fail to participate in the process. For me, that includes choosing a party affiliation and thus participating in primary elections.

That hardly makes me “ardent.”

“Ardent” Democrats, I submit, would not likely have a history of consistently voting for Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Angus King and Roger Katz.

An “ardent” Democrat likely would not list among his personal political heroes Don Collins, Sam Collins, Bennett Katz, Bill Cohen and Margaret Chase Smith (admittedly along with George Mitchell, Tom Allen, Ed Muskie and Ken Curtis).

An “ardent” Democrat would not feel torn and undecided in his local legislative race between two capable women, both of whom are valued friends.

What I do feel ardently about is the lack of a middle ground in American politics. I am dismayed at the lack of compromise and balance in policy formulation at the state and federal level.

But what I also believe is that Augusta has been blessed with great collaborative elected mayoral and council leadership in my years here, and that much of the reason for that has been because of its non-partisan character.

I have managed in communities that were partisan at the local level. I know the difference. Roberts’ theory notwithstanding, the Augusta City Council abides by a strong tradition of deciding issues on their merits with healthy differences of opinion based on personal judgments, not party politics. I believe it will stay that way.

Bill Bridgeo

City manager, Augusta

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