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Falmouth council candidate rebukes critics of his views on gay marriage, abortion

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Falmouth council candidate rebukes critics of his views on gay marriage, abortion

FALMOUTH — Town Council candidate Bryan Dench says people who oppose his personal beliefs are waging a coordinated attack against his candidacy.

Responding to claims by some residents that his views on state and national issues are too extreme for the Town Council, Dench said there is no reason these opinions should be part of a local election.

“This is a coordinated, ugly campaign of attacks that have nothing to do with local Falmouth politics,” Dench said Tuesday. “I think it’s really an ugly attempt to discredit me based on conscientiously held views, that are shared by many people, that have nothing to do with my qualifications to serve as a town councilor."

The most recent attack against Dench came from resident Glen Brand, who wrote a letter to the editor claiming that Dench is actively involved in the Maine Right to Life Political Action Committee and that he co-authored an “anti-abortion screed” called “Fetal Holocaust.

The article, published without a date online by The Narrow Way Ministries, a conservative, Seventh Day Adventist website, argues that abortion is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and should be illegal even in the case of rape or incest.

Dench said he was the treasurer of the Maine Right to Life Political Action Committee, but that he hasn't been involved with the committee, in any capacity, for more than 20 years. He also said he does not recall co-authoring “Fetal Holocaust.”

Brand said he wrote his letter so that people would know about Dench’s history before they cast their ballots on June 12. He said he doesn’t want to see “subterfuge politics” on the Town Council.

“There is a history of candidates with extreme views, usually right-wing candidates who hide their views or don’t talk about them until they get in office, and then they start taking action,” Brand said. “They try to implement their agenda. We’ve seen this with school boards and town councils and that can cause a lot of heartache.”

Brand was the second resident to publicly call attention to Dench's beliefs on polarizing state and national issues.

Former Town Councilor Cathy Breen previously wrote a letter noting Dench's published opposition to gay marriage two years ago. She suggested he should not be given the opportunity to use the Falmouth Town Council as a stepping stone to higher elected office.

Dench this week said his personal beliefs on these issues that will not impact the town of Falmouth and should not be brought into the council debate. He also said this type of campaigning has become the status quo for "one political party in particular."

“This is the way that one party in particular seems to conduct business,” Dench said. “They want to depict me as some kind of bad person. All they have to do is send this stuff in and it becomes an issue because they say so.”

He said voters should know that he would be objective as a councilor and that his career of legal and government service should speak for itself.

Dench is chairman of the Skelton, Taintor & Abbott law firm in Auburn. His practice is centered around work with small businesses, town governments, school districts and other public entities, and his clients have included Sun Media Group, parent company of The Forecaster.

He said he has been involved in municipal politics in some capacity wherever he has lived, serving on the boards of appeals in Auburn and Lewiston, as a moderator of Town Meeting in Poland, and on that town's budget and long-range planning committees.

“I would hope people would judge my ability to serve on the Town Council on my record of government and legal service,” Dench said.

Amber Cronin can be reached at acronin@theforecaster.net or 781-3661 ext. 115. Follow her on Twitter: @croninamber.