Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro survives Tuesday recall by less than 100 votes

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WATERVILLE — City residents on Tuesday by a 91-vote margin rejected a recall of Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro following a controversial tweet in which he criticized a student who survived a school shooting.

Isgro prevailed in the vote with 1,563 against the recall and 1,472 in support of it.

Election results were announced at 10:47 p.m. Isgro had left the polls when they closed at 8 p.m. and did not respond to an email requesting comment. His cellphone voicemail said his mailbox is full and can not receive messages.

Isgro posted on Facebook after 11 p.m.: “To God be the glory. Friends and neighbors, today you came out and did what no one thought you could do. In record numbers, you showed up to the polls to vote a resounding NO to this erroneous recall effort that attempted to derail all we have done together.”

Isgro said he and his wife Amanda “want to thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. Over the last two months you have poured out your support and prayer upon our family in a way we never knew possible. We are ever grateful.”

“It is late and I know we are all tired, so tomorrow I will issue a more formal statement. For now, thank you Waterville. You did it. It’s time to get back to work. God bless.”

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Isgro was re-elected in November after serving a 3-year term. His current term expires in 2020.

Isgro supporter Julian Payne said late Tuesday in a phone interview that the election outcome was a “resounding vote of confidence from the community of Waterville, affirming the vote they cast Democratically less than six months ago in the November election.”

“Our mayor has been vindicated and my heart goes out to him and his family,” Payne said.

Former Mayor Karen Heck, who supported the recall effort, commented on the election results in an email late Tuesday that said in part:

“In 1996, the Waterville community created a vision for 2020 which saw a future for the city where people felt safe and diversity was valued. Over the course of the last year, it became apparent to many of us that wasn’t a vision the mayor held.”

Of just under 11,000 registered voters in the city, 3,064 cast ballot in the election, held at Harold Alfond Athletic Center at Thomas College.

Rien Finch, who represents the group, “Waterville Together,” and administers the “Recall Isgro” Facebook site, issued an email thanking the more than 1,000 Waterville voters who “bravely signed the recall petition.”

“You made it possible for the residents of Waterville to vote their conscience,” the email states. “We would also like to thank the thousands of you who voiced your dissent by voting. Sadly, our voices were not enough this time.”

The City Council at its meeting Tuesday, June 19, will canvass the votes and determine the results of the election, according to City Clerk Patti Dubois.

Isgro was re-elected in November after serving a 3-year term. His current term would have expired in 2020.

Isgro came under fire in April after he tweeted a comment to David Hogg, telling the student to “eat it,” in response to a story about Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham’s losing sponsorships for disparaging remarks she made toward Hogg, who has appeared on national television calling for gun control legislation since the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Isgro deleted his tweet shortly after posting it but has refused to apologize for it. The tweet was captured by screenshot and shared widely, sparking scrutiny of his past social media posts, raucous City Council meetings and recall efforts against him and councilors.

The Isgro controversy spilled over into discussions about the city’s proposed municipal and school budget for 2018-19, with Isgro vowing to veto any budget that represents a tax increase of more than 3 percent. It was a promise challenged by Waterville officials and city councilors who questioned his leadership, as he has not said how he would reduce the budget amid false claims he has made.

Isgro posted a message last week on Facebook that inaccurately says the council voted to start the process of raising property taxes by 10 percent. Councilors actually took a first vote last week to approve a proposed $41.9 million municipal and school budget that represents an 8.3 percent tax rate increase over the current tax rate that covers this year’s $39.9 million budget. That number could change before the council takes a final vote June 19.

Isgro called the recall initiative an effort to oust him so he could not veto the budget, saying in a Facebook post that those who are “working with outside special interest groups to seize control of Our City are continuing their pattern of sowing fear and intimidating residents like they did with their hired outside signature gatherers.”

City Manager Michael Roy took issue with Isgro’s statement last week, saying it is not true.

“I’m shocked and saddened by the claim from our mayor that the people are working with outside interests to control the city,” Roy said. “I cannot understand how he could say that — period.”

Isgro’s post also claimed the council scheduled the final budget vote for after Tuesday’s election to try to stop him from vetoing the budget.

“They want me out of the way as Your Voice protecting our way of life and are hoping their political recall scheme funded by outside groups is successful,” it said.

Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro hugs a supporter as she enters the Alfond Athletic Center to cast a primary ballot at Thomas College on Tuesday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)

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