“Who are these guys?”

I’m asked this question by at least one person every time I run an Another View commentary on the Coastal Journal opinion page.

Another View is a group of four men who take turns writing about state and national issues from a conservative point of view, submitting them for possible inclusion in opinion sections of newspapers around the state.
I intend to answer that question more completely, but first I need to make a couple things clear.

The Coastal Journal is a community newspaper. The news and information we cover is diverse and yet inclusive, representing the general interests, concerns, and events of the Southern Midcoast region.

Gone are the days when 14 newspapers circulated in Bath alone, published by everyone from union leaders to businessmen to like-minded special interest groups, all promoting their own agendas.

Maybe it’s the ghost of that time that causes such mistrust of the media today, but I assure you, the Coastal Journal’s only agenda is to pay the printer, so to speak, and keep delivering relevant, reliable, objective news and information to its readers while providing local businesses and organizations with a venue to let you know about their sales and services.

I don’t have to agree with you to publish your letters and commentary. As long as opinion pieces are not obscene, libelous, or a jumbled mess of incomprehensible characters, I will consider them for publication. SPACE is much more of an issue. Sometimes I just don’t have room to get everything in.

And every time I publish an Another View commentary, I get lots of thoughtful letters and commentary in response.

That’s what an opinion section is supposed to be, after all. A free exchange of ideas.

The Another View crew started writing their columns because they felt the politically, socially, and culturally conservative point of view was underrepresented, if it was represented at all, in local newspapers. They reached out to a former editor of the Coastal Journal to ask if he would include their pieces in the opinion section. He agreed.

I continue to run Another View occasionally, as – you guessed it – space allows.

Jan Dolcater, one of the writers, invited to me to join the group for breakfast at Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro last Friday. They are celebrating their 200th column this week.

I also don’t have to agree with someone to accept invitations for breakfast, especially when I’m looking for answers to questions readers put to me. As long as I’m treated respectfully, I’m down for a breakfast sandwich most anytime.

So “who are these guys?”

The writers are Jan Dolcater, former chair of Knox County Republicans, and a retired national sales manager for a manufacturer in Alabama, whose territory once included the “lower 48.” He moved to Maine in 1994, and lives in Rockport.

Dale Landrith, Sr., came to Maine from Michigan (with a few other states in between) in 1982 to manage Manset Marine Supply in Southwest Harbor, which he eventually came to own. He lives in Camden.

Ken Fredric is secretary of the Lincoln County Republican Committee. He spent 13 years in the National Security Agency before becoming a consultant for the Department of Defense. He was born and raised in Ellsworth, but spent many years out of state before returning in 2012. He lives in Bristol.

Paul Ackerman is an at-large member of Knox County Republicans. He described himself as a “reformed Democrat,” who grew up in Washington, D.C. Al Gore, he said, was a classmate. He moved to Maine in 1971, and now manages construction projects and does restoration metal work. He lives in Tenant’s Harbor.

Two others joined us: Fred Bucklin, also an at-large member of Knox County Republicans, is a former real estate appraiser, and his wife Victoria Bucklin, is a former school teacher. The couple moved to Maine from Massachusetts in 2011, but Fred has lifelong ties to the state, and Victoria grew up in Camden, where they now reside.

The conservative opinions of the Another View crew are wide ranging, as many of you might surmise from their commentaries.

For Ken, his concerns center on “an overly intrusive government at the state and national level.”

Paul said, “The national level is an umbrella that colors a lot of what we write about.” But in terms of Maine, his concerns are focused on the quality of education.

“Education is the key to whether your population stays around or goes away,” he said.

Jan feels strongly about the Supreme Court. “We need to keep the Constitutional approach instead it being a ‘living document’ like liberals want.”

For Dale, he worries about what he regards as an attack on the Bill of Rights, mainly the First and Second Amendments. “Diversity,” he said, “excludes Christianity.”

The group gets together every week to talk about these issues and others. I was happy to join them for breakfast and listen to their ideas and beliefs. It’s always good to put a name to a face, and interact in person.

I was reassured that each and every one of them expressed a desire for Another View to avoid any sort of finger pointing and name calling, and to instead be “issues focused.”

“It’s amazing, when you get down to the issues,” Ken said, “there is disagreement, mainly over the solution or the cause, but people CAN agree that something needs to be done.”

He followed up after our meeting with an email that furthered his sentiment, “I can’t overstate my conviction that Maine people are far, far less ‘divided’ than we are told we are. The shame of it is that we no longer attend community events where we are aware we’re talking to people we WILL see again and again and whom we value as either friends or at least colleagues over being ‘right’ or ‘winning’.”

I like to think the opinion section of the Coastal Journal provides that community space for people to discuss their ideas and beliefs.

You don’t have to agree or disagree. But if a letter makes you think about something you might not have considered before, or even better, inspires you to elucidate those thoughts in your own writing, we get a little bit closer to bridging what keeps us apart in this highly charged, deeply emotional moment of America’s evolution.