As a former Maine legislator, I have watched government work – or not work – for 30 years. The common denominator of successful sessions is good leadership and presiding officers who work with all parties. Good speakers keep the lines of communication open between parties. Former Speakers Dan Gwadowsky, Robert Nutting and Hannah Pingree come immediately to mind.

That has not been the case recently. Under Speaker Sara Gideon’s leadership, the Legislature had its first state government shutdown in nearly 30 years, during which Gideon showed an unwillingness to communicate with the opposition, even though she needed their votes to move forward. Blame was placed on governing under a divided government.

But this year the Democrats held majorities in both the Maine House and Senate, as well as control of the executive branch. In spite of this sweeping majority, Gideon was still unable or unwilling to pass a transportation bond issue during the regular session ending in June despite strong support for it from both parties. Needed funding for our roads and bridges stood at an impasse, held hostage in an effort to pass less immediately necessary bonds.

What did Speaker Gideon gain for putting the integrity of our infrastructure in limbo for months? Not a single thing. The vote in August’s special session turned out exactly the same as it would have in May or June. And it cost taxpayers an extra $42,000.

Gideon has shown that she doesn’t play well with others. We don’t need another lawmaker with this attitude in Washington.

Mary E. Small

former Republican legislator


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