BELFAST, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage visited two manufacturing facilities in Belfast and checked out the industrial port in Searsport on Thursday on a visit to Waldo County for his “Capitol for a Day” initiative. The trip was greeted with enthusiasm by some local officials.
“It was great to have him. I was impressed with the man. Very impressed,” said Belfast Mayor Walter Ash, a former Democratic state representative. “Very likable to talk with.
He’s a down-to-earth guy that’s worked and he’s got a pretty good idea of what it takes to make a living. What people need.”
Ash and Belfast City Manager Joe Slocum dined at Darby’s in downtown Belfast with LePage and took advantage of the chance to talk about the strengths and challenges for the midcoast city.
Slocum said Thursday afternoon that the governor visited Mathews Bros., which has manufactured windows in Belfast since 1854, and also potato processor Penobscot McCrum LLC.
“I think it’s great for the governor to get out and talk to people outside of Augusta,” the city manager said. “I’d be thrilled if the governor came every week.”
The governor also visited some businesses at the Mack Point industrial zone in Searsport, according to Town Manager James Gillway, and had a stop scheduled in the town of Knox, too. He also planned a public town hall meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday at Mount View High School in Thorndike. Most of his other Waldo County events were private, according to his press secretary, Adrienne Bennett.
Ash said Belfast’s recent economic renaissance was on the menu at the lunchtime meeting. The mayor also took advantage of the governor’s visit to talk about residents’ concerns over heavy equipment moving through the city during the busy summer season, and his own issues with the lack of a tariff on lobsters brought from Canada.
“He listened. Wrote it all down,” Ash said. “I don’t know where it will go, but he’s real easy to talk to. A guy that’s out there and worked all his life. He educated himself. He said, ‘It’s a poor day when you don’t learn something.’”