“The funny thing about tolerant people? They’re only tolerant when you agree with them.” — Greg Gutfeld

As a graduate of Waynflete and Bates College — where I earned an anthropology degree and spent hours immersed in women’s studies — and now an Obama voter who married Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro, you could say I have been exposed to a great diversity of opinion. And you would be right. You could also say my personal background checks all the ideological boxes for someone sympathetic to the Maine Democratic Party, their out-of-town petition gatherers (currently walking our streets), and the Maine People’s Alliance.

You would be wrong.

Fortunately, my parents raised me to be kind, to think critically, and not to be afraid to speak up.

They most certainly did not raise me to think that trying to destroy a person, no matter what the cost to their livelihood and the community, is an appropriate response to political disagreement. Sadly, the groups I mentioned above — who lay claim to someone of my background — disagree.

It’s easy to see the recall efforts for what they are: a well-funded political coup d’état organized and funded by non-residents working on behalf of local elitists who couldn’t beat my husband Nick at the ballot box.

Americans today are starting to realize that their right to free speech is under attack by an intolerant mob that uses phony outrage and hurls labels like “racist,” “misogynist,” and “xenophobe” to silence those who disagree.

Let’s look at a few local examples of this phenomenon.

Last October, groups marched through our neighborhoods on their way to City Hall. At least one person was dressed in a dark mask, waving a flag that said “Antifa” (which I later learned is a militant and violent political group). My children, who were out riding their bikes in the neighborhood, saw this and came running home scared.

Also included in this march were a sign depicting police as “pigs” and loud chants of “racist cops.”

Two Waterville city councilors took part in this march. Where’s the outrage? Where’s the apology? Instead, they attack Nick for questioning this behavior.

These same councilors have tried to pass limits on public speech to protect themselves from criticism. This move was so outrageous it was deemed unconstitutional by the city attorney. Were there apologies to outraged residents? Were there demands for resignation in the media?

Some of these councilors have referred to landlords as “slumlords” and residents as “idiots,” “belligerent”, and “angry mobs”. Have any of them apologized?

One councilor draws pictures of residents while they speak and passes notes rather than listen to people she purports to work for — you know, those pesky residents who have their own opinions. Apologies? Demands for resignations? No, just silence and defiance.

Yesterday, while I was at home preparing lunch for our children, Nick was at a nursing care facility, spending time with an elderly gentleman that he befriended while campaigning last fall. As this gentleman’s health is failing, Nick spent most of his time holding tissues so his friend could blow his nose, and helping him drink orange juice through a straw. Later in the day, he arranged for a priest to visit for anointment. He routinely does things like this without asking for anything in return.

To friends and neighbors of all political stripes who know him from personal experience — and not just by what is written by political parties and their well-funded allies, non-residents, elites, and lobbyists — how Nick spends his spare time loving and helping others comes as no surprise. This is the man the out-of-town petition gatherers are trying to oust.

I am not fond of ideological attacks on the press, which is fundamental to a free society. However, I am disappointed to see our local press has found time to report every inflammatory statement they could find from Nick’s critics while failing to acknowledge the paid emails, texts, phone calls, and other propaganda coming from political parties and special interest groups outside of Waterville who want to remove him from office.

As Nick gets up each day and continues his work on behalf of the people, it’s time for the community to come together and call on Karen Heck, Hilary Koch, and many on the City Council to end their divisive behavior that has harmed our community so the rest of us can get back to work at what we do best — volunteering, checking on neighbors, working together, and respecting our differences.

Amanda Isgro is the wife of Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro.

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