By Carol McCracken (Post # 756)
Late this afternoon, the State’s Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government voted unanimously to deny an act that would have put Islanders one step closer to seceding from the City of Portland. The workshop session and vote took place in the Cross Building, Augusta.
Just prior to the vote, Committee members stated why they would not support L.D. 1079, that would have allowed the secession effort to continue. Member after member reiterated that the State has a process for secession to be followed and that in this instance, the process was not followed. Rep. H. David Cotta (R), Chair, said that “if we approved this legislation, lots of questions would be left.” Rep. Bradley S. Moulton (R), told the secessionists at the workshop that the introduction of this bill “is not part of a continuing process. We weren’t hearing unanimity among you.” Advocates of secession maintained that because they had been through the process several years ago, certain parts of the process as specified by Maine law, need not be repeated. The passage of the bill by this Committee would have permitted Peaks voters to make the final decision on secession from Portland. Residents would have voted the legislation up or down.
Several Committee members expressed hope that the hard feelings that have developed among Island residents could be overcome so both sides could work together. “Make it work,” urged Senator Nancy Sullivan, who was one of the more vocal opponents of the secession bill.
Island resident Chris Hoppin who did not support the secession effort said following the session: “I am pleased that the Committee supported the process of the law of the State of Maine. I moved to Peaks Island to be part of the City of Portland!”
Rep. Windol Weaver, R), who sponsored the bill said: “If it hadn’t been for the process issue, it might have had a different outcome. People are devastated. I feel bad for them. If they ask me to sponsor the bill again, I will.”
Mayor Nick Mavadones, Jr. said: “I am very pleased that the Committee voted unanimously. There’s a statutory process to be followed. The issues raised we take seriously. We look forward to working with both parties to faciliate more communication.”