BIDDEFORD — I grew up on a working dairy farm in the small western Maine town of Carthage. Anyone who was raised on a farm learns quickly that you can’t survive if you don’t work together. When it’s starting to rain and the hay needs to get in the barn, neighbors pull together to get the job done. I learned that spirit of working together early.

When I used my chemical engineering degree to develop the idea of a form of composite lumber, and then set up a factory to produce composite decking planks right here in Maine, it was a big endeavor. I could never have accomplished it on my own. I had a lot of ups and downs, and lots of help. There were nights I slept in the plant or worked the overnight and never slept at all. It was a 24/7 operation. But in business, just like on the farm, bringing people together is the only way to solve problems and get the job done. There were plenty of tough times, but we made it through.

My company started from just an idea and grew to employ 75 hard-working Mainers, grossing over $30 million in sales and making the Inc. 500 list three years in a row. By working together, the leadership, the shift leaders, the suppliers and the team members – heck, even the bankers – built that business into a successful manufacturing company that endures right here in Maine.

Now, in addition to my work in the Legislature, I’m focused on the community.

There are so many good people doing good things in our state right now. Maybe you’ve seen me on TV or listened to my podcast, where I work with entrepreneurs as a mentor and coach. I do that because I want them to have the same success I had.

But I’m worried about what’s happening in Washington right now. We face enormous challenges. We have an out-of-control opioid epidemic that is killing Maine people every day. Health care is unaffordable for the middle class and doesn’t seem to be getting better. These issues have to be taken on at the federal level by our representatives in Congress.

Even with all the great people working hard, the national parties in Washington have ground progress to a halt. Our politics have gotten more caustic, and our nation’s problems only continue to grow as they are ignored by an entrenched, dysfunctional Congress. It seems like we just lurch from crisis to crisis, never really fixing the core issue or taking on the big problems. It’s exhausting to feel like you have to check the news every day to see what partisan tug-of-war is dominating the headlines today. It leaves us feeling vulnerable and helpless.

I take a different approach. My whole life has been about bringing people together.

And it works. My volunteer work with veterans groups and addiction recovery groups has shown me that. I’m honored to have been named an honorary life member of the Vietnam Veterans of America for my efforts honoring these men and women of valor – so often forgotten. I’m equally honored to have been recognized by the Maine Sheriffs Association with their Presidential Citation Award, for going to the mat to enact new policy allowing police agencies to support each other. There’s no doubt that great things can happen when people join together for a common purpose.

I will bring that same spirit of working together to Congress. I am nonpartisan. I’m not divisive. I will vote for the best idea, and work relentlessly for the citizens of Maine’s 1st Congressional District. If they need something from Washington, I will get it.

I know I’m just one voice. I can’t change Washington by myself. But if we keep sending people down there who will work together, and fix, not fight, we can change the direction of this country.