For Emily Downing, an interest in politics stemmed from her father, and resulted in starting a Young Republicans Club at Sanford High School. For Dillon Bates, Downing’s Democratic opponent in the upcoming Maine House District 35 race, it was visiting a remote Maine town and connecting with hardworking people.

Downing, 22, and Bates, 26, were both inspired at a young age. And they also both agree on one thing they think is critical to Maine’s future – it will take young politicians to get people their age to remain in the state to live and work.

Bates said the race in Westbrook’s District 35 is the only legislative one in the state where the cumulative age of the candidates is under 50.

“It’s exciting, especially because the average age of the Legislature is over 50,” he said.

Downing said she wants to show other young people that Maine is a great place to live. She bought a house last year in Westbrook with her fiance at the age of 21.

“I want to share those moments with other young Mainers,” she said, adding that the state needs to invest in new technology and industries that will excite young people to stay.

Downing, who attends the University of Southern Maine, said she has seen interest in politics grow among her peers, but believes it’s important for more high school students to take notice.

“Though they may not realize it now, these policymakers are definitely making decisions that are going to be affecting their future,” she said.

On Tuesday morning, Bates was writing a series of postcards to send to Westbrook residents, as a follow-up to conversations he’s had during door-to-door campaigning.

In 2010, at 22, Bates interned with Mike Michaud during his congressional campaign, and has also been elected a delegate to the Maine Democratic convention three times. He says he’s passionate about getting more young people involved in Maine politics.

“I contemplated leaving Maine, but I couldn’t reconcile it, because I wanted to help people, and the people who inspired me were Mainers,” he said. “In order to get young people invested in Maine politics, we need to keep them here.”

Local radio talk show host Ray Richardson said Wednesday that he is “thrilled” to see so many young people “recognizing they are the next generation of leaders in this state and this country.”

Downing worked as a production intern at WLOB, where Richardson hosts his daily show.

“The biggest challenge Maine faces is to stop the outward migration of our youth,” he said. “Who better to work on that problem than the youth who are here.”

Isaac Misiuk, a Gorham Republican running against Democrat Chellie Pingree for Maine’s 1st District U.S. House seat, will turn 26 on Election Day.

Misiuk, who on Wednesday had just got off the phone with a member of the Associated Press for a piece on emerging world leaders, said his path to politics began as an intern for the Maine Republican Party when he was only 20.

Just a few years later, he was a field representative for the College Republican National Committee, where he met and was inspired by members across the country. He’s also the vice chairman of the Cumberland County Young Republicans.

But for Misiuk, who has undertaken a lofty goal of unseating Pingree, now seeking a fourth term, his race isn’t about fundraising. It’s about connecting with people, and what he sees in Congress.

“I felt that my generation, and my interests weren’t being adequately represented,” he said. “Everything that comes out of Washington is falling directly on our shoulders.”

Tyler Kinney, 23, Misiuk’s stepbrother, also a Gorham Republican who is running for Maine House District 27, said Wednesday that he first got involved in politics by helping local candidates run for office. He says young people provide a needed voice in issues that will affect their generation years from now, such as Social Security.

Kinney’s Democratic opponent and incumbent in the race, Andrew McLean, was also just 27 when he won the seat with 62 percent of the vote in 2012.

Misiuk said that his generation has no choice but to get involved in politics, even at a young age.

“If our generation wasn’t interested in getting involved in politics, who’d be taking over?” he said.


A CLOSER LOOK

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4. In Westbrook, voting hours are 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. Voting locations are:

Wards 1, 4 – Fred C. Wescott Community Center Building,

426 Bridge St.

Wards 2, 3 – Westbrook Armory, 120 Stroudwater St.

Ward 5 – Prides Corner Congregational Church, 235 Pride St.


Isaac MisiukEmily DowningDillon Bates


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