Maine’s U.S. Senator Angus King spoke with seventh-graders at Saco Middle School on April 9. Eloise Goldsmith photo

SACO – “I go home with homework just like you,” U.S. Sen. Angus King told Saco seventh-graders April 9 while describing his day-to-day duties as a federally elected official.

King, an Independent and one of Maine’s two U.S. senators, often carves out time to speak with students around Maine. He spoke over Zoom with the Saco Middle School students to talk about his work on Capitol Hill and the importance of being involved in the democratic process.

“A lot of what I do involves listening and deciding,” he said, and described meeting with Maine constituents, attending congressional hearings, and voting on bills and nominees.

The students, whose social studies curriculum revolves heavily around government, had the chance to ask King about anything they wanted. They queried him about combating climate change through the political process, his legislative record and which presidential candidate he’ll vote for in November.

“I will vote for Joe Biden. I think he’s done a good job,” King said. He’s pleased with the economy’s strong performance under Biden, he said, and believes the president has “earned a second term.”

Another student asked King to reflect on bills that he had worked on that he was sad hadn’t passed. King responded by talking about the importance of playing the long game in getting policy priorities passed. Access to better broadband in rural Maine, for example, is an issue he said he worked on for many years before achieving success.


A significant portion of the conversation focused on the accelerating climate emergency and what can be done through electoral democracy to combat it.

“Is there any way to make the law passing process more efficient in terms of enacting climate agreements? And what can kids like us do to help (combat the climate crisis) right now?” asked seventh-grader Abbie Cashin.

King focused on the second question first. He told students that Maine’s political process is highly accessible and encouraged them to speak with their local and state legislators about issues they care about.

He also emphasized just how dire the climate emergency is. “It’s one of the most serious questions any of us have ever faced,” he said. He spoke about rising temperatures in the Gulf of Maine – which is one of the fastest warming ocean regions in the world – and the threat of rising sea levels.

While King didn’t address the question about gridlock in the process head on, he did tout the Inflation Reduction Act, a landmark climate bill that was passed two years ago with his support. The IRA “had more concrete steps toward climate change mitigation than ever before – but we’re far from having fully confronted and solved this problem,” he said.

King has been a fairly consistent proponent of pro-environment and climate-related legislation. The League of Conservation Voters, an environmental advocacy group, gives him a positive 91% lifetime score when it comes to national environmental legislation.


Cashin, the student who asked the questions about climate change, said she was pleased with King’s answers and was excited that she and others had the chance to speak with him. “He’s been very adamant about making sure that these climate agreements get passed. … He really gets his hands in there and helps our community,” she said.

Cashin has firsthand experience with King’s willingness to help constituents. She and nine other seventh-graders recently participated in the annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest – a contest where students in grades six through 12  use their math, tech, science and engineering skills to address real world problems – which is part of the reason that King was motivated to speak at Saco Middle School, according to Lindsay Girard, an extended academics English language arts and math teacher.

With Girard as their coach, the group successfully beat out high school students and became the state winners for their work on a project to create biodegradable, sustainable and refillable markers.

King sent the group a congratulatory video when they won the state-wide competition, which they then used as part of their competition video when they advanced to the national level –  they were not chosen as national finalists.

King closed by telling the students he was counting on them: “I want you to think about what we’ve talked about today, particularly about climate change, because you’re the people that are going to be living with it. And we really need to confront that issue.”

“I just want you to know how important you are and what a difference you can make,” he said.  

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