Politics

November 16, 2012

Bill Nemitz: Lawmaker's election a victory for all of us

(Continued from page 1)

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Craig Hickman will represent Winthrop and Readfield in the Maine House of Representatives.

Kennebec Journal photo

Still, it wasn't until he went to the State House in 2008 to watch Maine's four electors vote for Barack Obama that Hickman's political ambitions took root.

Gerald Talbot of Portland, who became the first African American elected to Maine's Legislature way back in 1972, nudged Hickman that day, pointed out at the House chamber and said, "One of these days, you're going to be sitting in one of those chairs."

Back in 2010, sprouting a head full of dreadlocks, Hickman ran against incumbent Flood and lost with just under 40 percent of the vote.

Two years later, the dreads are long gone. And just as Talbot predicted, one of those seats soon will have Hickman's nameplate in front of it.

(Hickman is also one of Maine's presidential electors this time -- he ran for and won the honor at the state Democratic convention in June.)

So what was it like for a gay, black farmer to knock on doors in one of the nation's whitest states and ask for people's votes?

"I guess I just did it with determination and fortitude and authenticity," Hickman replied. "If you talk to people long enough, you find common ground."

Take the woman who wanted nothing to do with Hickman one day as he pulled into her driveway.

"Then can I at least leave you this information?" he persisted, reaching for a campaign flier. "I'm running to be your state representative."

The woman stopped dead in her tracks.

"You're doing what?" she asked incredulously.

"I'm running to be your state representative."

"You?"

"Yes."

The woman burst into laughter.

"Oh my God," she said. "That's the best thing I've ever heard!"

Recalled Hickman, "Then we talked ..."

His politics begin and end with food -- so many problems, Hickman maintains, stem from the fact that too many people lack access to affordable nutrition.

"I've been preaching that forever," he said. "And it finally caught up to me -- it's like the situation caught up with the message."

Thus he's hoping for a seat on the Legislature's Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee, although he wouldn't mind Judiciary or Health and Human Services.

But mostly, Hickman's just happy to have won -- and maybe a little stunned that so many of his neighbors saw fit to send him to Augusta. Neighbors who, rather than worry about imaginary black people, had no problem whatsoever electing a real one.

Since last week's election, more than a few folks in District 82 have gone out of their way to tell Hickman how proud they are of him. He tells them all they have it backward -- it is he who is proud of them.

Why so?

"Because they proved that it doesn't matter what you look like or who you love or how you walk or talk -- it only matters what you do," Hickman said. "And that is a victory for all of us."

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:

bnemitz@mainetoday.com

 

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