New elected state Reps. Morgan Rielly and Suzanne Salisbury get to work in Augusta next month. Courtesy / Morgan Rielly, Suzanne Salisbury

WESTBROOK — The city’s new state representatives, both Democrats, say they’re ready to get to work in the Legislature Dec. 2.

Morgan Rielly, a lawyer and a campaign organizer, was elected after an unopposed race for the House 34 seat previously held by Drew Gattine, who termed out.

Suzanne Salisbury, a member of the Westbrook School Committee and co-owner of the Daily Grind on Main Street, won a contested primary and ran unopposed in the general election to fill the seat of the late Ann Peoples. Salisbury will continue to serve on the School Committee.

Both of the legislators-elect spoke with the American Journal about their upcoming term.

Q: If there were one thing you could assure you accomplish, what would it be?

Rielly: It would be expanding service opportunities here in Maine and getting this pilot program that I am working on for work opportunities for young Mainers with Volunteer Maine passed and established. It can tackle a lot of issues in a proactive way. I am also planning on working on veteran issues. One would be working on creating a veterans defense program. It would provide legal representation to veterans who can’t afford a lawyer.

Salisbury: As a whole, my priority is dealing with this pandemic. That is going to be the big thing. Not just from a statewide level, but we are going to have to as leaders in our communities find ways to help the businesses and families in our own communities. I think it’s going to be multi-level. As a statewide organization, we have to figure that out. What do we do to help the small families that have been hit hard? That will take up a lot of our time in trying to get these numbers under control. 

Q: What House committees do you hope to be a part of? 

Rielly: I am looking at joining the Veteran Legal Affairs Committee, I also applied to the Judiciary Committee as well as the Innovation Development Economic Advancement and Business Committee.

Salisbury: I’ve requested the Education Committee because of my work with the School Committee, as well as Health and Human Services because of my work with food insecurity, I think I can be helpful with that. There is also an innovation committee related to business I’ve requested because of my business experience. I’ve been advocating for myself for those roles.

Q: How do you think the state has been handling the pandemic?

Rielly: The Mills administration has done a good job of handling the pandemic. We have to stay vigilant over the next few months as we get into the winter period, as we are seeing an uptick and spike, we will still have to wear a mask, stay socially distant and make sure we are doing everything possible to not spread the virus.

Salisbury: It is scary seeing these numbers and deaths go up, but the governor has done a great job in keeping us protected. I agree with the mask mandates. I agree with the things that are in place right now. I’ve been working on a COVID grant with the Westbrook Fire Department and Atlantic Partners EMS. We’ve been going to businesses providing resources like signs, masks and hand sanitizer. I feel overall businesses are trying hard to keep customers and staff safe. We need to get through these next few months. People are tired. Tired of masks, tired of not being able to live life as normal and go out to eat and get together with friends, but we have to keep that diligence we had in March.

Q: Are you excited?

Rielly: Definitely. We are doing orientation right now. I had one on Tuesday and Sue and I will both be in one together. I’m excited to represent Westbrook with Sue. She’s been an incredible public servant in Westbrook and a big part of the community.

Salisbury: I am excited to get to Augusta and represent Westbrook and get the work underway. We have a lot of work ahead of us dealing with this pandemic and the outfall from that, so I’m excited to get going.

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