2013-07-12 / Community

Guest Column

Leading by example
By Sen. Rebecca Millett

It is amazing to me that July is already upon us. It seems as if the Dec. 5 swearing-in ceremonies were just yesterday. I remember coming to Augusta that day determined not to let partisan bickering prevent us from working for the people of Maine.

Regardless of party affiliation, most legislators came to the table ready to get to work.

The people of Maine expect and deserve leaders who serve their interests and listen to their voices above all else.

When their elected officials make national headlines, it should be for their noteworthy accomplishments.

Unfortunately, that has not been the case recently. It seems there has been story after story about the lack of civility and demeaning discourse from the governor. Mainers have much to be proud of, from our scenic beaches to our towering forests. But our governor’s crude language and temperamental behavior are cause for embarrassment, not pride.

As a parent, I am constantly trying to set a good example for my twins. The news they see about state government is a reflection of our state, and it matters to me what impression that gives them.

As they get older, my husband and I continue to discuss what media content, whether social, television, print or otherwise, reflects our values and is acceptable.

When newscasters and reporters have to warn their viewers of offensive language and advise that they may want to mute their television, we expect it to be a story about some crime or misconduct, not our governor speaking to reporters about the two-year budget and my colleagues. Is this something I want my children see?

No parent should have to ask that question when the governor of Maine is speaking to the people of our state.

As lawmakers, one of our tasks is to lead by example, and the governor has not set a good example this session. Fortunately, there are many legislators who never lost sight of why we were elected.

We did not always agree, but we remained civil and respectful. We are all, first and foremost, Mainers. Maine people come together to support each other in times of need, and rejoice with each other in times of celebration.

We disagree without being disagreeable, and we work together to get things done.

These are Maine values and they should be the values our leaders exemplify through their words and actions.

I am proud of the legislative leaders of both parties who lived these values during our first session and my of many colleagues who followed their example.

Next session, I hope the governor will join our efforts to raise the level of discourse in Maine politics to remain respectful—even when disagreeing—and to set a good example for the children of Maine.

Millett, a Democrat, serves Senate District 7, which includes Cape Elizabeth, South Portland and part of Scarborough.

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