Rockland Council race raises issue of who is 'local'

By Stephen Betts | Oct 29, 2019
Photo by: Stephen Betts A political sign raises the issue of what is local and what is the relevance of that distinction.

Rockland — The question of who is local and the relevance of that distinction has emerged as an issue in the race for the Rockland City Council.

There are signs posted for candidate Donald Robishaw that states "Vote Local! Robishaw."

Robishaw, 61, is a Rockland native and graduated from Rockland District High School in 1976. He joined the fire department two years later as a member of the on call division and joined the department as a full-time member in 1980.

He said someone else paid for and posted the "local" signs. He declined to say who but that he was not aware that the person was going to erect such signs until after they were posted around the city. He said, however, he sees nothing wrong with them.

Robishaw said to him local means a person who has lived in Rockland the majority of their life.

"Having spent my entire life in Rockland I have not only seen the City change but also I have lived it. This is important and can not be achieved from books, or talking with people. During my life in Rockland, I have lived the good and not so good times. I have met thousands of people during their worst days of their life, and have tried to assist them in getting through those situations," Robishaw said.

He said being born and raised in Rockland has its advantages by understanding the long-term needs and concerns of the residents. He said people move to Rockland for a combination of reasons such as getting a job here, a low crime rate, the closeness of the community, or simply did not like where they had lived.

Incumbent Councilor Ed Glaser, who is running for re-election, said Rockland has non-party affiliated elections just to avoid the 'us vs. them' mentality that has infected so much of the national political scene.

"I'm sure that Don doesn't mean it that way, but it can be viewed as divisive when what we are trying to do is become more inclusive instead. We have to work together to make Rockland better, it needs to be a race of good ideas, not where you come from," Glaser said.

Glaser's grandparents moved from Brooklyn, N.Y. to Martinsville in St. George in 1952. Glaser spent summers there since he was a young child. He attended Bates College in Lewiston and moved to Rockland in 1974 to work on the schooner Isaac H. Evans. He later became a schooner captain and later Rockland harbor master. He bought his home in Rockland in 1985.

Glaser was elected to the City Council in 2016, being the top vote getter.

The 2017 edition of the American Community Survey done annually by the U.S. Census Bureau found that 47 percent of Rockland residents had moved into their current homes since 2010. The survey does not state where the residents had lived previously.

Nathan Davis and his wife Chelsea Avirett moved to Rockland in May 2013. He grew up in New Hampshire.

"Despite hearing much about a supposed local/from-away divide, I've not experienced it firsthand. Almost without exception, Rocklanders have been friendly and open towards me and my wife, regardless of their family or geographic history. I have also tried to treat people with respect regardless of their family or geographic history. So I think that this issue (if it is an issue) is not as significant as it might sometimes seem," Davis said.

He said freedom of movement and social mobility are fundamental to his idea of America. He said his mother was born in a camp for displaced persons in West Germany after World War II after her family had fled Communist repression in Latvia.

"So in some sense I can't really be "local" anywhere in the United States. But stories like this are common, and I think they are fundamental to our society, and are in fact something that differentiates our society from many others," he said. "So what does it mean to be local? Lacking a better definition in our nation of immigrants, for me it means that you live somewhere by choice and don't plan to leave in the near future. In that sense, yes, it is important."

Candidate Iam Emmott and his wife moved back here the day after Christmas 2015, He had earlier been stationed in Rockland as a member of the Coast Guard, being stationed in Rockland in 2003 as a 19-year-old.

The last Rockland-born candidate to be elected to the City Council was Brian Harden who served four consecutive terms. He last won election in 2009.

Amelia Magjik was elected to the Council in a special June 2017 election, eight months after moving to Rockland.

Current Mayor Lisa Westkaemper was elected to the City Council in November 2017, four years after moving to Rockland.

The election is Nov. 5.

Comments (6)
Posted by: Stephen Betts | Oct 30, 2019 09:08

According to the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, communities in Maine with 15,000 or more residents fall under the state law about requiring that campaign signs state who is paying for them. Other communities can opt in but Rockland has not.

Posted by: Gerald A Weinand | Oct 30, 2019 06:52

If these "Local" signs have in fact been purchased and placed by someone other than the candidate, the person(s) who did so have appeared to violate Maine's campaign finance law, which requires that they identify themselves on each sign.

Posted by: Alan Heal | Oct 29, 2019 19:22

There is absolutely no reason why the people should not be aware of who the candidates are.

If they are local or from away let everybody make their minds up on basis of all available information.

I have read all that has been written on all of the candidates. I will vote on the basis of who will do

the best job. It may well be time to even up the council some old school to go along with new school.

Posted by: Emily Emmott | Oct 29, 2019 18:19

Messrs Mazzeo and McKusic- It would be my pleasure to meet with you both and you have my word I will be there to meet you both this week.  Dale- absolutely right about trying to contact every resident, its very challenging.


Ian Emmott

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Oct 29, 2019 14:10

I think most of us Rockland natives can accept people that move here, unless they feel that they are God's gift to the area. I've been inclined to believe that one needs to fit into an area or a new situation instead of coming in and trying to be something they are not. Being educated is not always what one has committed to memory but knowing the difference between what you know and what you don't know. All I want in a councillor is common sense and fairness to all. I think Don Robishaw has these qualities as does Ed and Nate.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Oct 29, 2019 13:55

Moved to Rockland in 1946; when I was eight months old; so am not a native.  Amelia Magjik is a fine example of someone moving here and making a positive difference. I do not know Mr. Emmott, but have had several encouraging contacts with Nate Davis and have been impressed with his positive, can do attitude. 

Have known Mr. Robishaw and his family since he was an infant and they are all people of integrity whom I would trust to serve us all well. My decision this year was difficult  and voted for those I believe to be the most adept at working together to get the job done at this very divisive time in our country.


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