In seeking re-election last November, Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro ran on his record. He ran as the mayor who presided over an exciting time in the city, as Colby College undertook an historic multimillion-dollar revitalization of downtown. He ran as someone who could both manage growth and control spending. He ran as the clean-cut face of city politics. And he won comfortably with nearly 50 percent of the vote in a three-way race.

But to residents who followed his social media accounts — seemingly a small fraction of voters — there was another side to the mayor, one that would come out just a few months into his second term, and be impossible to ignore.

In early April, Isgro posted to Twitter a disparaging remark about Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivor and activist David Hogg. The ensuing controversy shined a light on Isgro’s social media history, and showed clearly that the problem goes far beyond any one ill-advised post.

Online, Isgro resembles more of a fire-breathing internet troll than the reasonable family man he presents to Waterville residents. He traffics in hateful conspiracy theories about refugees and immigrants, forwarding exaggerated or flat-out false stories of crime and disease from illegitimate sources. He retweets members of the alt-right — a loose group of far-right, fringe conservative hate groups — including the man behind the “Pizzagate” conspiracy, in which Hillary Clinton was supposedly running a child-trafficking ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor.

During the Alabama Senate race, Isgro defended Roy Moore, the disgraced judge beset by credible allegations of sexual predation, and he criticized Rep. Bruce Poliquin for voting for an anti-sexual harassment bill.

In both cases, he used variations on the word “cuck,” a term used by the alt-right to imply that their opponents, including those they see as lesser conservatives, are weak and effeminate. It is the vocabulary of an angry, insecure movement that feels white men are losing out and need to fight back — using it was no mistake.


With the posts now in full view, and faced with a recall effort, Isgro didn’t apologize or try to explain his beliefs. Instead, he attacked the messenger. He blamed “dark money” and “powerful forces” who were out to get him. He questioned the integrity of the petition-gathering process, even posting pictures and names of gatherers, saying without evidence that they were intimidating and lying to residents.

When his supporters went after the people they incorrectly assumed had cost Isgro his banking job, the mayor refused to set the record straight. When anonymous Facebook pages popped up to threaten the opposition and spread false information, he said nothing.

He even misrepresented the budget process in an attempt to make the recall about city spending, not his own misdeeds.

It is now up to Waterville residents to decide if those are the actions of a leader. This time around, they’ll have all the information they need.

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: