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Democrats and Republicans appoint leaders to legislature

From Maine Legislature

AUGUSTA — On Thursday, the Maine Senate Democratic Caucus unanimously re-elected Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, and Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, to serve in leadership roles for the 130th Maine Legislature. 

Although Sen. Jackson’s candidacy for Senate President received unanimous support from the Senate Democratic Caucus, an official vote will be taken by the entire Senate on Dec. 2 when the Legislature convenes for swearing-in day.

“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,” said Sen. Jackson. “I know Mainers are worried right now but the one thing they shouldn’t worry about or whether or not their elected officials have their backs. It’s time 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.”

Sen. Jackson is a fifth-generation logger from Allagash, who entered the Legislature as a champion for Maine workers and families. He has sponsored legislation to give loggers and wood haulers a fair shake and to create good-paying jobs in Aroostook County. Throughout his tenure, he has emerged as a fierce advocate for health care, spearheading legislation to protect Mainers with preexisting conditions, rein in the cost of prescription drug prices, fund rural hospital and ambulance services, and hold “Big Pharma” accountable. He was named a 2019 Rx Price Fighter by AARP and has been recognized by the Maine Ambulance Association for his steadfast support of rural ambulance services. 

“Mainers are putting their faith and trust in us during an unprecedented time, and we must do all we can to rise to this challenge,” said Sen. Libby. “Maine’s legislators have our work cut out for us, but I know my colleagues and I are up to the task. Mainers have never been afraid of hard work, and they expect the same from their elected leaders. I’m dedicated to working collaboratively to help Maine face our current crises head-on and chart a path to economic recovery.”

Sen. Libby has represented Maine’s second-largest city for eight years in the Maine Legislature, for two years in the House of Representatives and six years in the Maine Senate. Throughout his tenure in the Legislature, he has focused his efforts on improving public education, investing in career and technical education, supporting community redevelopment, and advocating for student debt relief. He also has pushed for policies that promote responsible spending and good government. Previously, Sen. Libby has served on the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee and Taxation Committee.

“Maine is facing extraordinary challenges, and the legislative session ahead of us will be unlike any other. But I have no doubt that our core values of respect, hard work and frugality will continue to see us through,” said Sen. Vitelli. “Mainers are looking to their newly elected leaders to do the hard work that will get our state back on its feet. The policies and investments Maine lawmakers set up in the last two years have positioned us to weather this storm better than many other states. I have every confidence that Maine will continue to lead the way.”

Sen. Vitelli has dedicated her life to supporting Maine workers and small businesses, promoting entrepreneurship and connecting Mainers with quality, good-paying jobs. She recently retired after 38 years with New Ventures Maine, a statewide organization that helps Maine people achieve their career, financial, and small business goals. In 2006, the Maine Small Business Administration presented Sen. Vitelli with the McGillicuddy Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence for her work with New Ventures. She is also a 1995 inductee into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame and a 1986 co-recipient of the Maine Small Business Administrations’ Women’s Business Advocate of the Year Award. In the Maine Legislature, she has become a staunch advocate for prescription drug price transparency, workforce training, reliable high-speed internet access, energy independence, and retirement savings accounts.

The leadership team was selected by the incoming Maine Senate Democratic Caucus. Lawmakers will be sworn in for the 130th Maine Legislature on Dec. 2.

HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADERS

The Maine House Republican caucus re-elected Rep. Kathleen Dillingham (R-Oxford) to serve as their leader during a meeting last week in Augusta.Rep. Joel Stetkis (R-Canaan) was elected Assistant Republican Leader.

Dillingham’s re-election comes after a strong showing by Maine House Republicans in a difficult election year. Maine House Republicans gained 11 seats, and defeated 7 incumbents without losing a single incumbent.

“I am grateful to receive the support of House Republicans following our strong showing on election day,” said House Republican Leader Kathleen Dillingham. “By sending eleven more Republicans to Augusta, voters sent a strong message that they expect House Republicans to be included in decisions that affect their lives. The infusion of new energy and expertise they bring to our caucus will be particularly helpful as we try to address the $1.4 billion revenue shortfall projected over the next three years.”

Newly elected Assistant Republican Leader Joel Stetkis praised the team effort that led to last week’s election results. “House Republicans are unified in their desire to play a larger role in the policies and decisions governing Mainers,” said Stetkis. “Mainers from all walks of life and occupations can expect us to fight for them and to have their voices heard.” 

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