It's time to come back to the table.
The first time I visited Maine back in 1987, I knew this was where I was meant to be. Following that visit, I drove home to Pennsylvania, informed my parents that after college I was going to move to Portland and begin my career there and off I went. It was the best decision I ever made.
Maine has shaped nearly every aspect of my life - how I raise my children, how I run my business, how strongly I feel about the environment and how deeply I care for others. There’s a glue here that binds us all - perhaps it’s the collectively shared experience of the winters we must endure - but I believe at the core of it all that we are looking out for each other. I’ve had the very good fortune of traveling to every corner of this great state hundreds of times for my work and I have never met a person (farmer, lawyer, fisherman, doctor, gardener) that has not welcomed me into his or her home. That is the state we live in.
A lot has changed in the last 30 years here in Maine, but I believe that core goodness has not. Maine’s demographics are certainly different and that’s a good thing. As our population grows older, the addition of legal immigrants to our workforce is necessary for our economy to grow. That’s a good thing. We are striving constantly for the equality and fair treatment of all Mainers and that’s a good thing. Every person deserves equal respect and dignity no matter their race, ethnicity, gender or orientation. Period.
When we don’t agree, that’s ok too. But we are so much better as a community, as a society, and as a nation when we work together to solve these problems. Intractability on both sides has been the wedge that has slowed Maine’s progress and it has to stop. There needs to be a willingness to communicate with each other on a give and take basis and accept that compromise is not a weakness, but rather a virtue that can help Maine move forward again.
I’ve heard time and time again from folks that Mainers want stability. A legislature that works together, free of surprises, offering predictability not uncertainty. This is how our businesses plan for the future. This is how families plan too. I’ll strive to get us back to a durable government system that works. Our current political discourse is damaging that very system.
I don’t have all the answers. I don’t think anyone does. But we can’t pretend we don’t know in what direction we should go. Maine’s economy is indelibly linked to our environment and we need to work hard to strike a balance that maintains the health and beauty of our outdoors with the needs of our economy.
To me, Maine is an ideal. It’s a place where we come together, share the pride of place, optimistic in the knowledge that we’re creating a better world for future generations, caring for all of our community and steadfast in the willingness to work hard together. That is our Maine.