Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro continues to be a polarizing — and puzzling — figure. On June 12, he survived a recall vote held during the state primary elections, keeping his post by just 91 votes.

The recall, which attracted statewide attention, is likely to have the unfortunate result of prolonging the deadlock that has existed for some time between the mayor and the City Council. Some observers were surprised that Isgro wasn’t recalled, and there hasn’t been much analysis of voter attitudes, but it seems likely that at least some voters, while distressed by Isgro’s remarks, didn’t see ending his political career as the appropriate response.

Evidence that this might be so was provided by a counter-attempt to recall city Councilor John O’Donnell, which failed by a similar margin.

Many public leaders would see the result as chastening, but not Isgro. He promptly said those who initiated the recall should apologize to him, and repay the cost of the election — which was minimal, since it just involved printing another ballot.

The irony was especially rich because it was Isgro’s notorious tweet about a Parkland shooting survivor, “Eat it, Hogg,” and his refusal to apologize or even acknowledge it, that prompted the recall initiative in the first place.

Oddly for the leader of a modest-sized city, Isgro resists all the normal interchanges that can resolve difficult issues. He won’t answer questions from reporters. He communicates primarily by social media, with the same apparent intention as those emanating from the current White House — asserting a position without having to justify it.

At his first council meeting since the recall vote, Isgro continued down this well-worn path, demanding that the council cut a projected tax increase to 3 percent — it’s 8.3 percent in the final document — or he’d veto it. Unusually, though, he engaged in a dialogue with city resident Rien Finch, who asked how the council could reach the target Isgro set.

The mayor responded by saying that it wasn’t his job to find cuts — an attempt to have it both ways. If he doesn’t want to work with the council to produce a budget more to his liking, then he shouldn’t be drawing arbitrary lines in the sand.

Perhaps lost in the contention is that the overall budget is actually smaller than the previous year, yet the effect on property taxes is significant. This resulted from a 2016 budget controversy, after the city had conducted a revaluation that led to a mini-revolt among taxpayers.

Property revaluations ought to be conducted frequently — Maine is rare in not requiring them — because they can otherwise result in big changes in individual bills. Many see their taxes go down through revaluation, but of course those aren’t the taxpayers you hear from.

The council responded back then by taking money from surplus to cut the tax rate, but those funds aren’t available now, and there are few alternatives beyond deep cuts to services that the council has been unwilling to make.

The problem of rising property taxes despite lower spending is being repeated across Maine, and is, in large part, the result of a former Waterville mayor’s decisions as governor. Paul LePage has gutted revenue sharing, reducing it by 60 percent, and even proposed eliminating it altogether. He’s taken a similar approach to school subsidies, and rejected vast amounts of federal funding, all of which makes life very difficult for Maine’s municipalities.

There are mayors who understand this, and try to work with councils to at least minimize the damage. Then there are those who stay on the sidelines and loudly criticize others, like Nick Isgro.

Could it have been different? Imagine, for a moment, if instead of a recall, the City Council had scheduled a discussion of the mayor’s conduct as an agenda item. Most bad relationships, in politics as in life, stem from a lack of direct communication, evading differences rather than trying to resolve them.

Waterville’s George Mitchell, as U.S. Senate majority leader, had a famously productive relationship with his Republican counterpart, Bob Dole. The two met every day, often several times, when it was needed to move legislation forward.

By the time of the Obama administration, Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell rarely met, for months on end. Is it any wonder that “the world’s greatest deliberative body” has degenerated to gridlock?

It wouldn’t be easy for Waterville’s mayor and council to have this essential discussion; perhaps a mediator would be required. But it’s hard to see what else can change a dynamic that has produced scant benefits for the city, and no clear path forward.

Douglas Rooks has been a Maine editor, opinion writer and author for 33 years. His new book is “Rise, Decline and Renewal: The Democratic Party in Maine.” He lives in West Gardiner, and welcomes comment at: [email protected]

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