Serving the residents of Brunswick, Freeport, Harpswell, North Yarmouth and Pownal in the state Senate has been the honor of a lifetime. Citizens in our part of Maine are engaged in every aspect of our community. You follow the news, volunteer for many valuable organizations, support great public education, advocate for the protection of the environment, and much more. You care deeply about how state government works, not only for you and your family but for everyone.

When I considered a run for Senate four years ago, much of our state government was in disarray. The LePage administration took power in January 2011, the same month that I retired after 27 years with the Natural Resources Council of Maine. In short order, that administration, was fraught with mismanagement, consumed by raw partisan politics, and motivated by what appeared to be an outright disdain for vulnerable families. The administration actively worked to undermine laws, programs, and services designed to protect Maine families and natural resources.

After hearing from business owners, civic leaders, and activists across the district, I decided to run for office. Not only did I want to stop the systematic dismantling of state government, but I wanted to help rebuild our government and public trust in our institutions. I believe that government should work for Mainers, not against us. In my first term, we held our own, fending off attacks on our values and defeating destructive proposals, including a proposal to eliminate funding for Head Start.

There is no greater example of this than the attack on Maine’s public health nursing program. In 2016, Mainers learned through investigative reporting that our public health nursing program was on the brink of extinction. The previous administration and the Department of Health and Human Services were refusing to fill nursing positions after nurses retired or departed, leaving large areas of the state without this vital service. In a state with rising infant mortality rates, sparse rural health care and other serious health threats, this move was simply irresponsible and dangerous to newborn babies and our rural elderly.

Upon my arrival in Augusta, I wrote a bill that required DHHS to hire nurses, defined their duties in statute, and prevented misuse or diversion of public health nursing funds. It received broad bipartisan support and became law despite the governor’s veto. When the governor refused to comply, I sued DHHS, demanding compliance. Under the Mills administration, DHHS is working alongside the legislature to rebuild the public health nursing program and hire nurses to fill these positions.

Under the leadership of Gov. Janet Mills, Senate President Troy Jackson and Speaker Sara Gideon, alongside my dedicated legislative colleagues, we’re rebuilding our government. Trust in government is important, and it’s clear that our government is in capable hands.

In every community, there will be differences of opinion. Some will argue to cut funds for early childhood programs, like Head Start, while others see the value of investing in children — the future workers and leaders of our state. Some will argue that strong environmental standards are an impediment to business growth, while others recognize that leading on clean air and water strengthens our economy and makes Maine a magnet for entrepreneurs, who value a high quality of life for raising families.

In the Senate, we debate these issues and more (i.e. living wages, access to quality, affordable health care, basic human rights for everyone). Throughout my time in Augusta, it has been a privilege to represent the residents of this district and their values during these critical debates. However, it’s now time for me to step aside, which is why I will be retiring at the end of my term next year. I will be devoting more time to my family, introducing my granddaughter to the great outdoors, and becoming more active in local community volunteer work.

There are many community leaders who can readily step up to the challenge, including seasoned lawmakers, public officials, activists, and parents. Our state is in capable hands, and I have every confidence that voters will find the right person to represent this district.

It was just over a year ago that a new group of state lawmakers took an oath to uphold the Maine constitution and serve the people of this state to the best of our ability. The results have been dramatic. Instead of going backwards, we are moving forward as a state. While differences of opinion remain and the partisan divide is stoked at times by voices from Washington, D.C., the political debate is largely constructive — that’s something Maine people can be proud of.

I want to thank the voters of this district for trusting me to represent you in the Senate. It’s a great honor.


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