Radio Address: Alfond says farewell, offers advice to new Legislature

Posted: November 23, 2016 | Senator Alfond, Weekly Radio Address

The Thanksgiving holiday calls on us to show our gratitude: For our families, friends, communities and all the blessings in our lives.

This year, as I look toward the future, I’m especially grateful for the time I’ve spent representing the people of Portland in the Maine Senate. And I’m thankful to see the next generation of leaders taking the reins in Augusta.

Hi, this is Senator Justin Alfond. Thanks for tuning in.

Sen. Justin Alfond, D-Portland.

Sen. Justin Alfond, D-Portland.

I’ve served Portland in the Senate for eight years. For six of those years, I’ve had the honor of serving as a member of legislative leadership. My family was by my side the whole time, even if it meant long hours, late nights and extended trips to Augusta.

My grandfather, the late Harold Alfond, always used to tell me, “Everyone deserves an opportunity.” That belief, that any of us can succeed given a chance, has driven me during my time in the Legislature.

Opportunity is a great education for every child. It is the chance for small businesses to start and grow. Opportunity for workers is a job that pays enough to provide for themselves and their families.

My focus on opportunity spurred me to always put Maine people first. It made me stay at the table when walking away might have been easier. I crossed party lines, and even worked with Gov. LePage to create opportunities.

The results speak for themselves: Today, we have a student debt relief program that’s helped 11,000 college graduates pay back their loans. This program makes it easier to live in Maine and will attract graduates from all over the country. Today, our tax system leaves more money in Mainers’ pockets because we passed tax cuts that benefitted the majority of Mainers, not just the wealthy. And we have taken the first, important steps toward eliminating child hunger in our state.

Our state’s term limits law means my time in Augusta is coming to a close. The next Legislature will be sworn in on December 7. I’d like to offer them a little advice.

First of all: Listen to and respect each other.

For generations, as Washington D.C. became more dysfunctional, Maine showed that a better way was possible. But today, our state government is at risk of becoming as dysfunctional as Congress. It’s up to you to make sure that doesn’t happen. Your constituents are counting on you.

Second: Negotiate in good faith.

Healthy debate is baked into our political process. But trust and respect are critical elements of statesmanship. The campaigns are over, so leave them behind you. Distrust, bickering and mudslinging will only put up roadblocks to progress that Mainers simply cannot afford.

Finally: Remember that while each of you have different districts and constituencies, your decisions affect all our state’s people — regardless of who they are, where they come from, how they worship or who they love.

Your ability to pass laws that touch all Maine lives gives you a responsibility to all Maine people, not just the ones in your district. Never allow temporary, shifting political winds to distract you from their duty to honor, respect and defend the civil rights of all Mainers. No one should be left behind.

I wish the next Legislature all the best in the work ahead, and I know they are up to the task.

For the last time, this is Senator Justin Alfond. Thanks for listening, and have a Happy Thanksgiving.