A year ago this month, I made one of the hardest decisions of my life, to drop out of my re-election campaign for State Senate. Ultimately, it was the right decision at the time given my job situation and what was right for my family. While I’ll admit it’s been hard not being in the fight and not being in a role to help pass legislation, it’s given me time to evaluate other important ways of making a difference while being able to work fulltime (something that’s hard to do while in the legislature).
Based on my recent 8-year stint in the legislature, I’ve recently been appointed to two state commissions by my former colleague, Senate President Troy Jackson.
The first appointment is a 3-year term on the Maine Right to Know Advisory Committee. This committee is an on-going advisory council with oversight authority and responsibility to make recommendations to the Governor, Legislature, Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, and local governments regarding our Freedom of Access laws.
Throughout my legislative career, I’ve fought for a more transparent and accessible government to increase accountability and public engagement in the decision-making process. As the chairman of the Government Oversight Committee, I made this a top priority. The public and the press deserve to know what our government is doing and how they arrive at decisions.
As a former reporter and with a background in journalism, I’m fully committed to ensuring we maintain the integrity of our Freedom of Access laws through best practices in providing the public and the press access to records and proceedings. I believe that the press should play a critical role as a government watchdog, to hold leaders accountable for what they say and do. It’s one of the main reasons I started down a path of journalism to begin with. I wanted to ask the tough questions no one was asking and push for more public participation in the process.
The second appointment is being named a Maine-Canadian Legislative Advisory Commissioner. The purpose of this commission is to strengthen the relations between the legislature and our legislative counterparts in Canada. This will be done through engagement in regional cooperation via economic, cultural, and educational exchanges. Our area relies heavily on Canadian tourism to benefit our local small businesses. As commissioner, I hope to bring about further awareness and attention around how we can work together across the border for mutual benefit. I met several Canadian colleagues while studying down at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government that I will use to benefit our state in this role.
Looking forward to continuing my public service in this capacity by getting back into the arena, fighting for our shared values, and keeping you informed after over 6 months since leaving the legislature. For me, public service isn’t about a title or a position. It’s a lifestyle of helping and lifting up your fellow neighbors in your community, state, and country. Service is in my blood. It’s a part of who I am, no matter where the path takes me. I deeply appreciate so many of you reaching out over the past year encouraging me to stay involved and to run for various offices. It means a lot to me and Eduard. My connection with our community gives me hope for the future and inspires me to continue to serve. This is where my heart is.
Beyond the Headlines
Weekly Column featured in The Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier Newspaper by Rep. Justin Chenette of Saco