WATERVILLE – Rep. Chellie Pingree paid her first visit to the city since a redistricting plan signed into law earlier this fall shifted Waterville into the 1st District, which she represents.

The Democrat from North Haven said Thursday afternoon that she was using Congress’ November recess to learn how she could help Waterville residents, providing she is re-elected in 2012.

The shift in districts, which Gov. Paul LePage signed into law in September, takes effect after the 2012 election.

Walking along Main Street on a rainy Thursday afternoon, Pingree said she understands why Congress has such a low approval rating.

She said Mainers, like all Americans, need jobs and affordable health care.

“I can’t blame people for being angry at government,” she said. “We’re not doing enough. I just say to people that I’ll continue being an advocate for them.”

Pingree, 56, made a number of downtown stops, including at Selah Tea Cafe, the Waterville Public Library, Barrrels Community Market, the Farmers’ Market and the Waterville Opera House.

Diane Bryan, executive director of the opera house, handed Pingree a hard hat and led her on a tour of the $4 million renovation under way in the 99-year-old building.

Shannon Haines, executive director of Waterville Main Street, and state Rep. Thomas Longstaff, D-Waterville, accompanied Pingree on the tour, which also included meeting Mayor-elect Karen Heck and City Manager Mike Roy.

Pingree said she planned to stop at 2nd District Congressman Mike Michaud’s downtown office.

If re-elected, Pingree said she would like to have her office in that same space.

“I want to follow Mike’s tradition here,” she said. “I’m very fond of Waterville and I think it has great opportunity for the future.”

Agriculture, said Pingree, also has a vibrant future in Maine.

On Nov. 1, Pingree introduced the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, which seeks to expand opportunities for local and regional farmers and make it easier for consumers to have access to healthy foods.

“Maine is bucking trends,” she said, adding that young people are tending the land and the number of farms in the state is increasing.

 

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Beth Staples can be contacted at 861-9252 or at:

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