Recent statements by former Gov. Paul LePage questioning Rockland’s election integrity are irresponsible and unbecoming in a former governor, much less someone who is currently seeking the state’s highest office.

LePage was recently quoted as saying, “I will say in Maine, I have great confidence in small towns — I’d say towns with less than 1,000 people — because usually the clerks know everybody in town, so I have a lot of confidence. I have less confidence when you get to Bangor, Rockland, Lewiston, Portland, South Portland.”

This was thrown out there with no evidence to back it up. It is insulting to the election clerks, volunteers and city clerks here in Rockland.

LePage paints a picture of Rockland as a large city where people do not know their neighbors, but the exact opposite is the case. City officials, including Clerk Stuart Sylvester, are on a first name basis with almost every local resident.

Going to the polls in Rockland involves talking to your old roommate’s uncle, your former soccer coach and your daughter’s classmate because those are the people running the elections here.

In fact, Rockland is the kind of place where you have to be careful about getting angry in traffic since the person in the other car is a neighbor, and you have to plan for extra time at the grocery store to talk to all your friends. We may be a city but we are still a small community.

LePage sounds like someone who has never even set foot in Rockland. He is certainly out of touch with what is important to us here — a strong sense of community.

Of course, what we are really seeing here is another cynical attempt to gain political points by propping up “The Big Lie,” the completely debunked idea that Donald Trump was somehow cheated out of an election win in 2020.

Real leadership is the ability to inspire people to unify and work together toward common goals. We could be working together in this state to deal with real problems, like a lack of affordable housing, the need for more workers, a chance to help young people pay for the higher education they need to do the jobs we will need them to take on in the near future.

The use of the big lie and other such tactics is trying to make short-term political gains by playing on people’s fear and driving further division. We have had quite enough of that in Maine and in the nation.

On a deeper level too, it shows a willingness to win at any cost, and sadly that may be true of any political operatives in this day and age.

Former Courier sports reporter Joe Cyr used to argue that even if the ref’s call goes against your team, if the ref was right, you should accept it. All too often, we “boo” the ref.

A true leader knows the difference between a win through legitimate process and a grenade in the gears because you do not like the outcome of one election.

If you also expect this from a leader, keep it in mind as you go to the polls in November.

The Courier-Gazette editorial board collaborates on an editorial regarding a topic of interest or community concern.

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