Opinion

Thank you, Aroostook County

Now that the dust has settled on the election, I want to say that it’s truly an honor to represent the good people of northern Aroostook County in the Maine Senate. I know I say this often but it’s because election after election I’m just blown away by your support.

There is something deeply humbling about your community entrusting you to be their voice in state government and granting you the opportunity to act on their behalf, especially when confronted with the most pressing challenges of our times.

So to the people of northern Aroostook County, thank you for reelecting me to the Maine Senate. My door is always open — I mean it.

There is no question that the next two years will be incredibly challenging. It’s why I’m honored to have been nominated by my colleagues to serve a second term as president of the Maine Senate. However, I also feel a profound sense of responsibility. Now, more than ever, Maine people are counting on us to help them survive this pandemic, rebuild our economy, and rebuild their lives. It’s a daunting task but I’ve never been known to back down from a challenge or give up fighting for what’s right whether it’s standing up for the basic dignity of Maine workers, taking on “Big Pharma” or delivering on property tax relief. Mainers are worried right now, but the one thing they shouldn’t have to worry about is whether or not their elected officials have their backs. 

It’s time for the Legislature to put the partisan rancor and ugliness of the election behind us, heal old wounds and come together not as Democrats, Republicans and Independents but as members of the 130th Maine Legislature to rebuild our state. We have our work cut out for us but I am confident that we are up to the challenge, and will waste no time getting to work.

Much like the rest of the state, COVID-19 has changed how the Legislature can and will do business. Lawmakers convened on Wednesday, Dec. 2, to be sworn in by the governor per the Maine Constitution. Instead of meeting at the statehouse, lawmakers met at the Augusta Civic Center to mitigate the health and safety risks. After the swearing-in ceremony, presiding officers in each chamber were elected.  

As someone who lives about 300 miles from Augusta, I think a lot about how we can make our government more accessible to the people we represent. It’s why I’m really proud that we will be able to dramatically expand public access and participation in the 130th Maine Legislature. This year, Maine people will be able to watch public hearings, work sessions, and observe committee work from the comfort of their own home. Even better, if they want to testify at a public hearing, they will be able to share their insight virtually, instead of driving to the State House. For me, this is a big deal. I’ve been pushing for this type of policy change for a long time now. 

 The people in our district live further away from the Maine Statehouse than almost any other district in the state. Typically, if one of our neighbors wants to testify in favor or against a measure, they have to take time off of work and drive at least three hours to get to Augusta only to share three minutes of testimony. The changes we are making this year will help close the gap and ensure Aroostook County residents have a greater voice in Augusta.

 As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, concerns, or ideas. You can reach me via email at Troy.Jackson@legislature.maine.gov or call my office at 287-1500. Thank you for the opportunity to represent northern Aroostook County for the next two years.

Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, is Maine Senate president. He can be reached at either 207-287-1500 (office) or 207-436-0763 (cell), or via email at Troy.Jackson@legislature.maine.gov.

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