October 28, 2010

Campaign Diary: Mitchell gets warm reception up north

By Susan M. Cover scover@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

MADAWASKA - The campaign day started early Wednesday for Libby Mitchell, with a 7:30 a.m. meet-and-greet at the McDonald's in town.

CAMPAIGN DIARIES

The newspapers
of MaineToday Media will publish campaign diaries following the daily activities of the three leading gubernatorial candidates through Election Day.

About 20 supporters gathered with coffee and breakfast to await her arrival. Richard A. Cyr -- there are five Richard Cyrs in town -- and his wife, Jeanne, said they like Mitchell's legislative background.

"I realize she's been through thick and thin," he said.

The couple said they value Mitchell's attention to northern Maine, noting that many Mainers think the state ends in Bangor.

"Being from the northern part of the state, we don't know much about (Shawn) Moody and (Eliot) Cutler," Jeanne Cyr said.

A few tables over, the conversation switched from English to French and back several times, which is common in this town just across the St. John River from Canada.

When Mitchell arrived, she spent time greeting people at each table, and sat and talked with the largest group for several minutes. Judy Paradis, a former Democratic legislator from nearby Frenchville, came in to escort Mitchell to her next stop, Crystal Lynn's Restaurant, where Mitchell got a chance to grab a bite to eat before her next appointment.

After a quick breakfast of poached eggs and Canadian toast, Mitchell headed up the hill to Madawaska High School for a short television interview with a high school student, James Cyr. The interview will air on WOWL-TV.

Teacher Colin Jandreau called for quiet on the set and asked Mitchell and Cyr to pretend they were having a conversation in a coffee shop.

Mitchell talked about the importance of education and jobs to the area, offering well-practiced explanations of her policies during the brief interview.

From there, Mitchell went back downtown to shake hands with business owners. With temperatures in the 40s and rain falling off and on, it wasn't a great day to be out and about.

With Paradis and Rep. Ken Theriault, D-Madawaska, Mitchell visited the local appliance store, jeweler, florist, chamber of commerce and Polaris store, where 2011 snowmobiles shined on the showroom floor.

The store's owner, Glenn Daigle, asked Mitchell what she plans to do about jobs, and said he's frustrated that only one of his four sons still lives in the area. He said a federal law that requires passports for U.S.-Canada border crossings, and a new state prohibition on the importation of firewood, are holding businesses back.

"That river is a wall," he said, pointing across the street and down the hill. "Let us be in business. Leave us alone."

After Mitchell left the shop, Daigle said he hasn't yet decided who will get his vote for governor.

"I feel we need a change," he said. "New thinking, new ways of doing things."

Walking toward the next business, Mitchell splashed in a puddle as she approached two women to shake hands.

"We're 50 percent of the population, why can't we elect women?" Paradis said.

Mitchell got a warm reception at Pierrette Florist, where Pierrette Sirois -- who owned the business for 47 years before selling it two years ago -- gave her a huge hug.

The morning included one more campaign stop, at the Aroostook County Democratic headquarters. About 30 people crammed into the L-shaped room for the morning reception, telling Mitchell they had already voted for her.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

scover@mainetoday.com

 

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