Hallowell resident and business owner Bruce Weber grimaces when he hears the word “election.”

Weber, along with an overwhelming majority of the city’s voters, cast his ballot Tuesday for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud, who was defeated by Republican incumbent Paul LePage. About 65 percent of Hallowell residents who voted chose Michaud, the highest concentration in any city except Portland, where 70 percent voted for him.

About 28 percent of Hallowell voters chose LePage, while independent candidate Eliot Cutler received about 7 percent of their votes.

Residents of Hallowell, just two miles south of Augusta, say their city voted so heavily for Michaud because it is a progressive, gay-friendly community filled with artists, musicians, educators, advocates and political insiders.

“It’s just that kind of town,” said Weber, who owns Josiah Smith Antiques at 168 Water St. in the city’s downtown. “It’s a very liberal town.”

In Tuesday’s election, most of Maine’s smaller communities voted overwhelmingly for LePage, which more than offset Michaud’s advantage in the state’s larger metropolitan areas.

But Hallowell, which is home to about 2,350 residents, differs in a number of ways from most small cities and towns.

It is a leading arts and entertainment center for the region. Water Street is lined with galleries, antique shops, restaurants and pubs. Around the corner on Winthrop Street is Maine’s oldest continuously operating community theater, the Gaslight Theater.

“There are a lot of artists. There are a lot of musicians. There are a lot of teachers, professors, intellectuals, authors,” Weber said.

City resident Patti Burnett refuses to talk politics, but she does have a lot to say about the people of Hallowell.

Burnett, who owns Dom’s Barber Shop at 156 Water St., said the city has a long history of embracing people of all cultures, beliefs, occupations and lifestyles.

“It’s a very diverse town with an open-arms mentality,” she said.

Hallowell stands out demographically from other Maine communities of its size. According to 2012 U.S. Census Bureau data, 49 percent of Hallowell residents age 25 and older have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 27 percent statewide. They also earn far more than the typical Mainer, with a median income of about $65,100 per household compared with $48,200 statewide.

A contributing factor to those figures is the large percentage of city residents who work in Augusta as government employees, lobbyists, lawyers, advocates, educators or employees of nonprofit organizations, they said.

According to census data, about 22 percent of the city’s workforce is engaged in “education, legal, community service, arts and media occupations,” along with another 22 percent in “management, business and financial occupations.”

The third most common job category is “office and administrative support occupations,” which employ about 12 percent of the city’s workforce.

Hallowell Mayor Mark Walker said that because so many residents work in Augusta, they have a different perspective than members of other small communities.

“We have a lot of residents in Hallowell who are state employees,” said Walker, who is also an attorney. “They have felt the pain from recent reductions to retirement benefits, higher co-pays for insurance and other benefits, and pay freezes, at the same time facing higher local property taxes from less revenue sharing.”

He said many state employees who live in Hallowell have been “very disgruntled with our governor.”

Still, the votes for Michaud were not simply anti-LePage votes, residents said.

It’s likely that a large number of voters felt a sense of kinship with Michaud in particular because he is openly gay, they said.

“I think it’s pretty well known that we have a large gay community here,” said Hallowell resident Tim Giggey, who works for Kennebec Cigar at 124 Water St.

Cali Davis, who lives in Hallowell and works as a bartender at Joyce’s restaurant, 192 Water St., agreed that Michaud’s sexuality probably was a factor in his popularity among city residents.

“Hallowell is a very gay-friendly town,” she said.

City resident Mary Darling said the key word that best describes Hallowell is “eclectic.”

“I’ve always thought of it as a Renaissance town,” she said.

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