Steven Wallace

Steven Wallace

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE: By time you read this column, the majority of our local, state and national elections will be determined. Maybe we will know who the next president of the United States is, maybe not. What will be more telling to me is how our newly elected officials — and those leaving office — transition into their new jobs. Then we will see if their metal — i.e., their skills and abilities — live up to their campaign chatter.

Some folks wonder why a local or regional chamber of commerce gets involved with politics. My reply to those that ask me this question is simple: Please tell me a single process that brings you food, shelter, security, or money that isn’t somehow regulated by an entity in our local, state or federal government. While I am getting that quizzical look, I add, “And tell me one person that is so smart that they know how all of these processes work together.”

 

 

To date, I haven’t gotten a good reply — when I do, I’ll share it with you.

I am amazed at the reasons why people actually vote for a candidate or incumbent: he or she looks smart, I like them, I don’t like them, he’s not old enough, she’s too old, he served in the military (that one seems to be both a qualifier and disqualifier these days), he shook my hand at the parade, she’s extremely intelligent and we need more women in office, we need more people of color to balance out political power, etc.

I have heard each of the latter statements firsthand — and many more that I wouldn’t even dare to share with you — and personally, not a single one resonates with me as a reason to vote for a particular person. I really don’t care how old you are, or what your gender is, or if you’re married, single, straight, gay, black, white or a mix of all of the above. Can you do the job?

I once read, “In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill … we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one.”

What the latter statement means to me is when something is broke, I don’t look for the cutest doctor or nurse, or one of certain color or age or background. I simply want the best medical professional available, period.

Yet when it comes to selecting the individuals who presumably will have input on just about every phase of our lives, we go by popularity contest or who the better speaker is. What we really need is the best qualified person — gal or guy — to fill the seat. And no matter who that person is, we need to help them succeed in whatever office they have been elected. Again I say, “Can you do the job?”

And that is where the chamber of commerce and politics comes together; we serve as a consolidation point for businesses to share ideas, plans, and thoughts with elected officials. We also serve as a conduit for elected officials to reach out into local communities, both civically and commerce related. We help elected officials do their job better by putting them in touch with their constituents.

Businesses don’t work without communities and communities don’t work without businesses. Neither businesses nor communities work without dedicated people. Business, People, and Communities.

With everyone participating together, information and opinions get shared, expanded upon, and strengthened. I have seen Mainers do some really good things when they work together and put party politics aside. I am looking forward to some even better things this upcoming year and the years to come.

The role of the chamber? We’re the organization that rents the room, brews the coffee, and lets folks know when and where to meet. Our job is to support all three of our Midcoast customers: Businesses, People, and Communities. My board and I think it is a great role to play, and I personally look forward to seeing you at a chamber event soon.

UPCOMING EVENTS: Hiring Maine’s Heroes Job & Resource Expo is for veterans and military spouses to find employment in our region. The expo is Wednesday, Nov. 14, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Brunswick. Representatives from more than 40 area businesses, state and government agencies as well as educational resources are available at the expo. The expo is free to attend and includes three seminars. IDEXX Laboratories, Bath Iron Works, L.L. Bean and BEK sponsor the expo.

MEMBERS IN THE NEWS: The chamber welcomes Maine Adult Guardianship Services, LLC and Alzheimer’s Association, Maine Chapter. To discover more about these businesses, go to www.midcoastmaine.com or download MyChamberApp for use on your mobile phone or tablet.


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