WESTBROOK — More than 200 people turned out for a rally in Riverbank Park on Wednesday night to support a more civil discourse in politics and applaud Democratic state Rep. Drew Gattine of Westbrook after the profane and threatening voice mail he received from Gov. Paul LePage last week.

City officials said the “rally for decency” was organized to promote civility in public debate and denounce the crude language LePage directed at Gattine.

In addition to several state legislators, the rally drew local faith leaders, Westbrook’s mayor and the chairman of the city’s School Committee. Gattine, who represents the city in the Legislature, was among those who spoke to the crowd. They cheered and shook his hand after the rally ended.

“We are at the point now where the person who is the chief executive officer is not in a position, is not ready and capable or fit, to do this job,” Gattine told the rally. “Nobody with any humanity, who cares about people, likes to see what is happening with this governor.”

Gattine thanked the crowd, adding, “I have never felt so loved, appreciated and supported as I have in the last week.”

Gattine said that the governor apologized to him during a 10-minute meeting in the State House on Wednesday morning. But Gattine also told people at the rally that he believes Le- Page should resign and seek help.

Reporters pressed him for more details about his meeting with LePage after the rally, but Gattine would say only that he is concerned that LePage will have more angry outbursts like the one that drew national attention last week.

Bonny Rodden, president of the Maine Council of Churches, told the rally that the governor’s remarks directed at Gattine were “unconscionable.”

“The governor’s remarks have reverberated across our nation and have embarrassed our residents,” Rodden said. “We pray for him and for the people who have been hurt by his actions and his words.”

Rodden said the Maine Council of Churches was not going to suggest what steps the governor should take next, but she said we would “ask that he step toward civility.”

She said the Council of Churches has even sought the advice from former Maine Sen. George Mitchell, asking for guidance on how state politicians can strive for greater civility. Mitchell, who helped broker peace in Northern Ireland, has agreed to speak Oct. 20 at a breakfast in Waterville – where LePage once served as mayor. Rodden said Mitchell’s forum will be called, “From Mudslinging to Mutual Respect.”

Rodden also challenged Le- Page to sign the council’s “Covenant for Civil Discourse,” a six-point document outlining behavior befitting candidates for state and national level public office in Maine.

LePage said Wednesday that he will seek “spiritual counseling,” but also said he does not plan to resign, a move that many people called for at the rally.

Westbrook Mayor Colleen Hilton said the hostile rhetoric coming out of Augusta for the past six years has been “almost unbearable” to hear. Hilton said the voice of “hatred” needs to be drowned out by more moderate voices.

“We need to speak up and be heard. We need to keep showing up and sending positive messages,” Hilton said.

The rally was held on the same night LePage had planned to have one of his town hall meetings at the My Place Teen Center in Westbrook. The meeting was canceled, with board members saying the building was not large enough to accommodate the crowd that was expected to attend. On Wednesday night, city officials asked people at the rally to make donations to the teen center.

Kelley McDaniel of Portland came to the Westbrook rally with a sign that read, “Missing. The Better Angels of Our Nature. If Found, Please Return to Maine’s Republican Party.”

McDaniel said she became disturbed after listening to the message LePage left on Gattine’s voice mail.

“I grew up in a Franco-American family, and if I ever said anything like that my memere would have washed my mouth out with soap,” said McDaniel, who grew up in Lewiston – LePage’s hometown.

McDaniel said she is not satisfied with LePage’s apology and said she would be comfortable if Senate President Mike Thibodeau of Winterport were to succeed LePage. McDaniel said the transfer of power would be fair since Thibodeau, like LePage, is a Republican.

Other speakers at the rally included Westbrook City Council President Brendan Rielly, School Committee Chair Jim Violette and Larry Strondak, pastor of Eastpoint Christian Church.

Rielly said he was asked by someone if Wednesday’s rally would make a difference. Rielly said, “We have already made a difference.”

“Our children are out there (in the park) watching us,” he said. “The model of behavior that we’ve seen coming out of Augusta is not what we want our children to see.”

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

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