ELLSWORTH — While the Legislature was in session, former Republican state Representative and Senator Brian Langley ate dinner most Wednesday evenings with a group of Democrats.
“People didn’t understand that,” Langley said. To some, it might have seemed he was “fraternizing with the enemy,” he said. But, Langley’s end goal was education.
“I spent a lot of time trying to understand how they developed their political views,” Langley said. “I would try to find common areas of overlap to start a conversation.”
To that end, Langley and his friend, state Rep. Brian Hubbell, D-Bar Harbor, are leading a workshop on civility at the Ellsworth Elementary-Middle School on Thursday, Feb. 28, from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Langley said he was approached by Annie Sargent, Ellsworth’s adult education director, about giving the workshop. He has conducted others.
Langley had been approached by Maine State Treasurer Terry Hayes to co-host with her a group of Ohio legislators visiting Maine. The topic was civility.
“We had the opportunity to work together when I served in the House,” Langley said of Hayes. “She chose me because I had a reputation for working with people across the aisles to solve problems.”
“We brought legislators together to brainstorm about how to get things done better together,” he said.
One of the questions brought up at the Ohio legislators’ workshop was “What are triggers and barriers that make it difficult to work together?”
“How do you talk to people who don’t agree with you politically?” Langley said.
Langley said elements of civility include listening and being able to understand someone else’s point of view that may differ from yours.
“There’s often a fair amount of commonality in people, other times, there just isn’t,” the former state senator said. “You have to find a way to disagree without it getting personal.”
Hubbell said, “While there are certainly areas where we might disagree on policy in the Legislature, Senator Langley and I built a productive relationship on finding common ground in order to advance common interests.
“I think he and I agree that the real tension in governance these days isn’t between progressive and conservative values so much as it is whether the public is better served by working together to find mutual interests as opposed to overpowering other views.
“Brian and I both found that we not only learned more by listening sincerely to the other side but also that we were able to reach solutions in that process that wouldn’t have been otherwise evident,” Hubbell said. “Over the course of our respective legislative careers we were able to build considerable trust and friendship. I think that served our region well.”
The workshop is free but registration is required. Sign up online at https://maineadulted.coursestorm.com/ellsworth/course/a-civil-conversation-a-civility-workshop
Langley served five terms in the Legislature, representing Hancock County in the Maine State Senate. He chaired the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee. He is the chef/owner of the Union River Lobster Pot Restaurant in Ellsworth.
Hubbell, a construction project manager, is a four-term state representative for Bar Harbor, Mount Desert and Lamoine, with legislative service on the education and appropriations committees. He has particular interest in education policy, school funding, renewable energy and scientific research and development.