Following OpEd by mayor with accusations bigotry Belfast City Council takes action

BELFAST, Maine (WABI) - Tensions were running high in Belfast Tuesday night.

Belfast's Mayor recently published an OpEd piece in a local newspaper saying that she had encountered ageism, sexism and bigotry during her time in the role and in her dealings with the city council.

The council responded with a special meeting where action was taken.

"Every member of this council, I'm sure has had the experience in the last few days of having members of the public, some we thought were friends, some we thought respected us, calling us bigots," said Belfast City Councilor Neal Harkness. "Calling us sexist. Calling us ageists. All of us indiscriminately."

"I thought it was a really cheap shot and I think it enables hate speech in this town and I'm really taken aback by it," said Councilor Michael Hurley on Tuesday night.

"I was not hurt by your letter I was once again astounded and mortified by your letter," added Councilor Mary Mortier.

Following more than an hour of discussion Tuesday night, a motion was put forth to at least temporarily alter the current course the city is on.

"Council hereby modifies the mayor's authorized duties - as the council for the city of Belfast has lost confidence in the ability of the mayor to properly represent the actions or inactions of the Belfast City Council," read Councilor Eric Sanders from the city charter.

The motion passed unanimously.

"I stand with the mayor," said one member of the public - as many in the crowd joined her by standing in a show of support.

Then a motion to remove Paradis from a coalition of mayors in Maine, of which Belfast has been a member for the last few years - dating back to before Paradis won the mayoral election.

The motion passed 3 to 2.

"There were things that she was harboring, but she's never taken an opportunity to speak to anybody about and I'm kind of afraid that if she goes to a meeting with a bunch of mayors what is she taking offense to," said Councilor Hurley.

We asked Paradis if she was talking about the council specifically in her OpEd piece.

"I've had interactions where I've had concerns among the council, but I was not only talking about the council specifically," she said. "I was talking about encountering sexism, ageism, bigotry in my role as mayor over the last year."

We asked both if they think that get past this. "I hope so," said Hurley. "She's going to be Mayor until November next year anyway."

"Yes absolutely I am hoping that we can get past this," said Paradis. "I think that the public is watching and that the public has concerns and I would ask that you come when it's open to the public and share what your concerns are."

The Belfast City Council meets next Tuesday night.