Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Running and Dancing

Update: For now this blog will double as campaign central. The newest news is we have a bank account and can deposit seed money donations made out to "Lee Roberts for Maine State House" c/o The First, P.O. Box 431, Wiscasset, ME 04578. Many thanks in advance.

This weekend we collected our first signatures toward my campaign to gain the District 53 seat in the State House of Representatives. Pretty darned fun. People even wrote $5 checks to the Maine Clean Election Fund in my name. Anyone in District 53, Wiscasset, Alna, Dresden and Pittston, can make a $5 clean election donation online by clicking here. We have to collect 60 from district members before April.

Initially, I had been volunteered to convene the Alna caucus, a smallish job mostly making sure our town has representation in the Democratic Party. Almost simultaneously, House Speaker Hannah Pingree sent an e-mail asking if I would consider running for my local House seat, currently held by my Alna neighbor, Republican Les Fossel, a biggish job with an intellectually and aerobically challenging preamble called a campaign that I must win. I am guessing I came to her attention through my work with Change that Works and the commercial CTW made with me asking Senator Snowe for real health care reform.

Tuesday, while visiting the State House and observing the House in action, from Pingree's consummate leadership to an old friend's unabashed support, I made the final decision to run.

Speaker Pingree, whom I first met when she was about eight as I wrote a story about her mother Chellie's North Haven yarn business, cuts a brainy and efficient figure. If she represents modern Maine politics, despite all appearances to the contrary, things are looking up for us. Pingree welcomed me and checked in more than once during a busy day of work and pomp. She has the ineffable skill of a consummate hostess that gave me the sense that my comfort was a primary part of her day's agenda, and went on to demonstrate an executive's ability to run meetings and the whole freaking House agenda with vigor, focus and humor. You haven't lived 'til you've seen, and heard, her wield a gavel.

Phippsburg native, singer and former waitress at the elegant Elliot House--now defunct--in Bath, Leila Percy put her long arms around me and gave me wonderful advice about how to keep straight the zillions of welcoming Democrats. Handing me a pen and a register of the legislature, replete with pictures and committee assignments, she said, "Whenever you meet a member, write down where and when next to their picture."

Since my brief career with Leila at the Eliott House, I have worked in other restaurants, marine science, hospitality, retail clothing and international airlines, and all that before reporting for the Courier-Gazette, then teaching at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle for 11 years. Later I worked as MPBN's Station Operations Manager and a subeditor at the Lincoln County News. For the last two academic years I have worked at Thomaston's Georges Valley High School as an English teacher or ed tech. The virtual hiring freeze at Maine's high schools has taken its toll on experienced teachers like me looking for work. Lately, my state of underemployment is enabling me to finish my long dormant master's degree in American and New England Studies at the University of Southern Maine.

For those who want my whole CV, I'll attach a copy in the near future. Suffice to say I've had a broad and varied work life with wonderful jobs and co-workers throughout the Midcoast and beyond. I look forward to using my experience in the interest of the people of Wiscasset, Alna, Dresden and Pittston.

So much for the running. Well, almost. I also run on local roads and the occasional treadmill. Whether I will have time to train for and finish the Maine Sport Triathlon as I did last year remains to be seen. A successful State House campaign will certainly require the best of my dance skills, modern and social, literal and figurative.

Cross-posted at Dirigo Blue.