“You seem like a nice person, why in the world do you want to join the Legislature?” is a question I have heard over and over again. It’s a tough question. I am as appalled as so many others are by the coarse, crude name-calling and pointless insults that can be heard on every level in our state and our country. It serves no real purpose other than to make the speaker feel smug and to stop all possibility of a real exchange of ideas. It hurts us all.
My hope in running to become the next representative of House District 137 is to work with members of all parties and listen, really listen, to people of all viewpoints. Only by working together, no matter how difficult that can sometimes be, can we tackle the problems in our district, our state and our country.
As a first-time political candidate, the experience of going door to door and getting to know the people has taught me about how important it is to have a voice in Augusta. Their stories inspire me to work hard to serve the people in my district.
One theme that I hear all too often is how people are struggling to stay in their homes. Health and financial challenges make it difficult even for those who have families nearby. I was so moved by one woman who came to the door dragging an oxygen tank. With tears in her eyes, she said she just wanted and needed to keep her independence for as long as she could. I hope to fund programs that will help her and so many other seniors live safely and comfortably.
I have also heard from young families struggling to find decent-paying jobs and affordable health insurance. Many people are worrying about how we can bring good-paying jobs back into the state. I know we have to truly be new business-friendly to accomplish this goal, and that includes building our connectivity capacity and welcoming diversity.
Often people talk about locking their doors and being afraid in ways they never have been before as the drug epidemic affects us all. One couple, so profoundly heartbroken, told me that their daughter had died two months ago from a drug overdose. Project HOPE, just being launched by the Ellsworth PD, is an example of the solutions that we need. It involves treatment providers, law enforcement and families working together to help, not blame and shame people who are struggling with addiction.
Good ideas are out there. I already know some and am eager to keep learning more. Every person running for public office should keep an open mind and really listen to the people they hope to serve.
Laurie Wooster Fogelman