Steven Wallace

Steven Wallace

President’s Message: In case you haven’t noticed, there are candidates for political offices everywhere you look. Babies are being kissed, promises are being made, and, in certain situations, battle lines are being drawn. Whether we like the process or not, we are in it together until after this November’s election.

As the chamber of commerce, folks often assume what side of a political issue we are on, that we are automatically anti-union, and we automatically support a particular flavor of political candidate. Well, I would like to take the opportunity to dispel those assumptions and tell you exactly how the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber advocates for its membership.

 

 

First of all, let’s take the easy issue to begin with: political candidates. The chamber does not support any particular candidate for office, period. Let me be even clearer: We do not endorse any candidates for town, county, state or federal office … ever. Our policy is to provide equal access to our membership to get to know the candidates and what they stand for. Then, the decision on who to support rests on you.

Next, let’s talk about one of my “favorite” chamber myths. Some folks wrongly assume that because another chamber takes a stance on a particular issue or candidate — such as the Maine State Chamber or U.S. Chamber of Commerce — that all chambers automatically follow suit. That assumption cannot be further from the truth. What other chambers decide has zero bearing on what issues the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber sides with.

There is only one way the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber takes a stance on an issue: The membership votes and tell us to do so. When that happens, I will go to Augusta and testify on behalf of our business community. In other instances, I will testify for certain business sectors or members, such as targeted legislation for repealing the tax on aircraft parts. Otherwise, our stance is to educate members about particular legislative issues and ask individual businesses to contact their representatives. We do the homework, you decide.

The last thing I will talk about is the comment that the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber is anti-union. When I heard that, I scratched my head and was momentarily speechless — trust me, that doesn’t happen often. Then I reviewed our membership list and noted I’ve got advocacy groups for literature, social services, learning disabilities, the environment, political conservatives and liberals, health care, and many, many more.

I have a multitude of great businesses from BIW to our hospitals to our schools that have union employees. The chamber supports all of these groups and their employees; therefore, we support unions and the rights of their membership.

What we don’t support is taking sides between individual business and union negotiations. That isn’t the job of the chamber, and I don’t foresee the day it ever will be. Might there be a day when we are asked to take a stance on a piece of legislation that affects business and union relationships? I am sure there will be. How will we decide to proceed? I refer back to my fifth paragraph: The membership decides, period.

I look forward to holding candidate meet and greets this spring; I am really looking forward to having political candidate forums in the summer and early fall. But what I am most looking forward to is providing folks access to the men and women who are volunteering their time and talents to serve the citizens of the state of Maine. And when all of the voting is done and our new public servants are in office, I look forward to helping them make Maine a better place to live, play and work.

Upcoming events: March’s Chamber After Hours is March 28 at Day’s Jewelers, Merrymeeting Plaza, Brunswick. Come and enjoy the camaraderie of other business people and view the latest in fine jewelry fashion and watches. To register for this event, call 725-8797 ext. 1 or go to www.midcoastmaine.com.

April’s Chamber Regional Luncheon is April 11, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Kennebec Tavern and Marina, 119 Commercial St., Bath. Our speakers are Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, and Laura LaChance, president and CEO of the Maine Development Foundation. The program includes lunch and the fee is $14/member and $18/non-member. Reservations are required by April 6 by calling 725-8797 ext. 1 or go to www.midcoastmaine.com. The luncheon is sponsored by Border Trust.

Members in the news: SMMC welcomes Davis Island Grill in Edgecomb and Cutting Edge Landscapes, based in Harpswell.

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