I’ve always worked to make things better for others. When I first graduated from college I worked with adults with mental illness. I spent a year in Eastern Europe providing supportive counseling services to international students. While there, I developed a love for clinical work and also wanted to learn more about health and social policy. When I returned to the U.S., I decided to attend graduate school for my Masters in Social Work from Boston College.
I believe that what I do to improve the lives of individuals needs to be combined with political action because often the problems are more than individual ones. I can work with an individual or family, but if a person can’t find a job or doesn’t have enough money for food or heat, then whatever I do will not be as effective as addressing the larger issues. So I combine the two. I work to get the people of Central Maine the opportunities they need to succeed – not just survive.
In politics, I have fought for candidates and policies that improve access to affordable health care, promote economic fairness, and increase educational and vocational opportunities that provide a path to jobs that pay a living wage. In my experience, no one I have ever worked with has felt any better unless they have something meaningful and purposeful to do every day. I would like everyone in Central Maine to have the opportunity to do this.
It is my faith that guides my politics. As a little girl, my parents took me to Mass, where I learned that not everyone was as fortunate as I was. I was taught by my religious leaders that we have a responsibility to care for those who are vulnerable. My father has always followed the same teachings through his volunteer work for food pantries and soup kitchens. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and loving my neighbor are values which are more deeply embedded in me than any others.
I’ve worked for Kennebec Behavioral Health since 1997 and have been the Program Director of School-Based Services since 2005. We provide counseling and consultation to schools in Kennebec and Somerset counties from HeadStart through high school. I provide direct services myself in Waterville and Winslow high schools. As part of my job I develop and manage a program budget. I supervise the staff. I work with local schools to develop service provider agreements. And I also develop and work on grants to pay for some of the services we provide. It is a source of pride that by careful use of resources we find ways to provide services for children who have no health insurance or whose insurance is inadequate.
My husband Ed and I live in Waterville, and we’re licensed foster parents. We are hoping to adopt a little girl to join our family soon. We can’t wait for her to be a part of our community. I look forward to the day I can drive her to school and walk with her through the front door. I know she will love Central Maine as much as we do. We are strong supporters of adoption, particularly of children in foster care. When my husband and I initially discussed adoption, one of the things that made it easier was knowing that our family was as excited as we were about it. They want to be a part of the journey with us.
I am also a stepmother to Ed’s son, Rowan. I am proud of the fact that my husband, Rowan’s mother, and I have a strong commitment to raising him together. We believe the most valuable thing we can give Rowan is a family that cares about him and works together to help him be happy and successful as he grows up.
My parents and one of my sisters also live in Waterville where they are active members of the community. My father volunteers at a local food bank. My mother and I have participated in local knitting circles, and she donates yarn to charitable causes when she has extra money. They took me and both my sisters to Mass, and taught us the importance of caring for our neighbors, a tenet they have followed in their own lives.
I believe strongly in the value of work, and it is particularly important for our young people to learn this. I’ve been working since I was 15 years old. Because of this I have been part of vocational programs to help young adults with disabilities transition into adulthood with education and job skills. One of the things I would love to bring to the Legislature is a plan to expand these vocational programs so our young people can experience the value of earning their own money.
I am the former Waterville Democratic Chairperson and have been involved with the Kennebec County Democratic Committee for six years. At one I time served as vice chair. I am currently the County Chair’s alternate on the Democratic State Committee. I have worked on every election in this area since 2004. For a number of years we have seen budget cuts that have impacted our schools and stretched our social safety net to the breaking point.
After seeing the most recent proposed state budget, I became deeply concerned about the direction the state was heading – that tax cuts for the wealthy would mean tens of thousands would lose their health insurance. The Governor’s budget made that clear. The work the Republicans continue to do, attacking programs such as unemployment insurance and Head Start shows there is no limit to their desire to hurt vulnerable people.
I believe that Senator Tom Martin is not addressing our concerns adequately. I believe I am better equipped to stand up for you and the people of Central Maine. I am running for this seat and will bring my knowledge of public policy to serve the people of Maine in the State Senate. Please support my efforts on behalf of all of us. Vote for me on November 6th because we deserve better, and because together, we can do better.