With rare abstentions, Rockland council OKs immigration resolve

By Stephen Betts | Jul 09, 2018
Mayor Valli Geiger

Rockland — The Rockland City Council voted 3-0 Monday evening, July 9, to approve a resolve calling for the immediate reunification of families separated by the federal government's actions toward people seeking asylum in the United States.

The vote saw the rare abstention of two councilors -- Councilors Lisa Westkaemper and Adam Ackor -- who choose not to vote on the issue.

Rockland resident Dara Hurt submitted the resolve June 28 for the council to vote on. The resolve states the "Rockland City Council urges the Trump Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to take immediate action to reunite families and work to implement immigration policies that do not create irreparable trauma."

Westkaemper did not give a reason for recusing herself from the vote.

Ackor said after the meeting he abstained because the resolve was not an appropriate use of councilors' time.

"When I ran for the council, I did not expect to vote on federal issues," Ackor said.

Councilor Amelia Magjik said this was a humanitarian issue. She said Rockland has an overwhelming sense of compassion and residents care for people both in the city and outside it. She said the community welcomed her when she arrived in the city. Magjik said she became involved in politics locally when the council discussed a resolve to support diversity.

Mayor Valli Geiger spoke passionately about speaking out on the immigration issue. She asked whether people would be like the Germans and French in not standing up for Jews in the lead-up to and the onset of World War II, or the Danish people, who united to help Jews flee to safety and protect their businesses and homes after their departure.

She said her experience with Rockland is that it would be like the Danes. Rockland is a community filled with kindness, tolerance and generosity.

Councilor Ed Glaser asked the council to postpone a vote, saying that, unlike the diversity resolve, there have been no workshops or extensive public review of the resolve. When his request for postponement failed, he voted for the measure.

Three citizens spoke out on opposite sides of the issue.

Greg Marley, Geiger's husband, praised the council and the resolution, citing the trauma experienced by children separated from their parents.

"We are part of this country and part of this world," Marley said. "We need to stay aware, stay vigilant, less the know-nothings of Maine feel empowered to choose new targets for their wrath."

Jim Kalloch criticized the proposal, saying the resolve had nothing to do with business.

"It's the law of the land what happened here," Kalloch said. He said someone should sue the city if the resolve were approved. He also said people arrested in Knox County are separated from their children.

Dara Hurt said that the only crime committed by the families crossing the border is seeking a better life.

This is not the first time the Rockland council has voted on a national issue.

In March 2017, the council voted 3-1 (with Mayor Will Clayton voting no and one seat vacant) to approve a resolve supporting diversity.

And as far back as April 1982, the council voted 4-1 to urge the president and Congress to enact a nuclear arms freeze. Voting for that resolve were Councilors Jean Chalmers, Denis Black, Mildred Merrill and Mayor Bruce Kinney. Voting against it was Councilor Warren Perry.

Comments (6)
Posted by: Lynne A Barnard | Jul 11, 2018 12:35

Thank you Mayor Geiger for taking a stand at Monday's City Council meeting on behalf of humanity.  Rockland can stand proud because you spoke so passionately, eloquently and with historic accuracy about what this action by our President and our Federal Government represents.  It's a disgrace.  And thank you Dara Hurt for bringing this issue to the Agenda Meeting and then Monday night's City Council meeting as well.  I stand with you, support you, applaud you and am proud of you and what you represent about our wonderful community.



Posted by: Linda M Filippi | Jul 10, 2018 13:17

This is hardly a “stupid resolution”! This is not an ordinance! A resolution states a position or a policy agreed to by a city. The position of this resolution is clear and affects every citizen, in my opinion.  If every community in the country passed such a resolution to reunite families with their children and spouses, it would certainly bear an impact on the Fed. One of the tenets of the Federal government in America is to “insure domestic tranquility”. We as citizens must voice our opinions, especially when we find egregious acts perpetrated by the Fed. Otherwise, we may as well crawl under our beds and go to sleep. Kudos, Valli and Rockland City Council!



Posted by: Linda M Filippi | Jul 10, 2018 13:16

This is hardly a “stupid resolution”! This is not an ordinance! A resolution states a position or a policy agreed to by a city. The position of this resolution is clear and affects every citizen, in my opinion.  If every community in the country passed such a resolution to reunite families with their children and spouses, it would certainly bear an impact on the Fed. One of the tenets of the Federal government in America is to “insure domestic tranquility”. We as citizens must voice our opinions, especially when we find egregious acts perpetrated by the Fed. Otherwise, we may as well crawl under our beds and go to sleep. Kudos, Valli and Rockland City Council!



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jul 10, 2018 08:47

Another example of the council coming together with consensus. Congratulations for tackling a tough situation with GRACE. May we all do as well. :)



Posted by: ananur forma | Jul 10, 2018 08:38

Thank you to Dara Hurt for bringing this sensitive, unsettling issue to our city council.

As Greg Marley pointed out the separation of children and parents can be a  cause of life long trauma. As an American citizen, I want no part of creating that. Such trauma is the emotional wounds that criminals are made of. Yes, it's true.  I am VERY proud of our city council for having taken a stand. I do understand certain respected city council members not voting on this, as it is not a local issue, but how to ignore it? One cannot, and must not. Thank you for hearing and discussing an issue which ought not be ignored. My hope is that all cities take a stand like our Rockland, Maine. How do we let the national news know about this, so that other cities can follow suit? Is someone doing that? Reade?



Posted by: Edwin E Ecker | Jul 10, 2018 04:14

Those that voted for this stupid resolution are just showing their true colors and their ignorance of what local government represents !

Those that abstained from the vote showed where they stand but lack any resemblance of courage by not putting their position on the line and standing for their own principals !

This is nothing but pomp and circumstance at it's highest level and just shows the public how wrong they are in electing these kind of people to public office !



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