Each of us, including Kristen Cloutier of Lewiston; Clare Davitt of Bangor; Valli Geiger of Rockland; Sarah Nichols of Bangor; Laurie Osher of Orono; Samantha Paradis of Belfast; Alicia Rea of Lewiston; Lois Reckitt of South Portland; Laura Supica of Bangor; Rachel Talbot Ross of Portland; Maureen Terry of Gorham, and Sarah Woodard of Freeport – all co-authors of this column – has been elected to serve our communities in Maine, on the municipal level, on multi-town school boards or in Augusta. This means we all have a deep personal understanding of how important it is for public servants to listen to their constituents. That’s why, in 2018, when Judge Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court, we traveled to Washington to voice our concerns directly to Maine’s senators.

Once in Washington, we sat with Sen. Angus King in his office for more than an hour. We told him our stories and shared the hurt being felt across Maine; he listened attentively and graciously, and thanked each of us for our time and our work. Days later, he voted against Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Sen. Susan Collins, on the other hand, refused to meet with us. After traveling hundreds of miles, we were forced to share our concerns with one of her aides. We didn’t feel that our experiences, our thoughts, our worries, mattered to Sen. Collins. That was made abundantly clear when days later, she ignored our concerns – and those of countless other Mainers – and voted to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. In the two years that have since passed, Kavanaugh has already shown that his presence on the court puts Mainers’ rights at risk – and this coming November, he could put our health care in danger when he hears the Republican case to overturn the Affordable Care Act with a lawsuit made possible by Sen. Collins.

The contrast is clear. Our system of government rests on the idea that elected officials are accountable to those they represent, but Susan Collins couldn’t take the time to hear our voices. She chose to hide from her constituents, failing in her fundamental duty as a public servant.

This November, we need to elect a senator who won’t shy away from the people she represents in Washington. We need a senator who will always listen to Mainers, no matter how thorny the issue. Democrat Sara Gideon is that type of leader.

Over the course of this campaign, Gideon has been a shining example of what it means to be accessible to Maine people. Over the last year, she has held 38 Suppers with Sara – events where she opens up the floor to attendees, letting them ask questions about the issues they care about. It’s so rare to see a candidate for political office listen rather than talk, but that has been the cornerstone of Sara’s campaign and her time as speaker of the Maine House.

Sara has held open events to hear from Mainers in each of Maine’s 16 counties, hearing directly from community leaders about the unique challenges facing each corner of our state. We know that as senator, she’ll continue to reach Mainers across the state to make sure she’s representing us and listening to our needs.

It’s clear to us that Sara will always listen to Mainers – even those who don’t agree with her – and will always put Maine first. That’s the kind of leader we need in Washington, and it’s not what we have right now with Sen. Collins. So this November, it’s time we put a real champion for Mainers in the Senate – it’s time for Sara Gideon.

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