Opinion

State of the Union attendees: Movers, shakers and Sen. Maker

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Even after five years as a senator, there are some things you just never get used to, and the State of the Union is right there at the top of that list. This yearly tradition isn’t about the president – it’s about the presidency. It’s an honor to be in the House chamber for this annual event, and fortunately I’m given the opportunity to share this unique privilege with one guest.

Each member of Congress receives an extra ticket to the event, and takes his or her own approach regarding who to invite; guests this year ranged from a Senate custodian (guest of Sen. John Kennedy from Louisiana) to Bill Nye (yes, the Science Guy – guest of Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma). When it came time to make my choice, I looked for someone who has a deep history of public service in Maine and a consistently bipartisan approach to that important work – and I found Sen. Joyce Maker.

If you don’t know Joyce, let me give you a brief overview. She’s a Republican state senator from Calais, who would gladly emphasize that she’s from Calais well before mentioning her political party, because she’s focused on working for her community. Joyce’s record of community service speaks for itself, with years of work on the Calais School Board, Calais City Council and now at the Maine Statehouse.

In describing her approach, Joyce says she believes that “the truth lies in the middle,” and that’s where she attempts to focus her efforts – in short, she believes in good old-fashioned Maine commonsense, which Washington could always use a bit more of. That’s why it was my pleasure to not just bring her as my guest to the State of the Union, but also to have her accompany me throughout the day.

Joyce got the full experience, from an early morning policy meeting with my staff to attendance at several Senate committees. I did have meetings that were restricted to U.S. senators only – Maine senators didn’t count, though we tried! – which gave Joyce the chance to interact further with my dedicated staff. She found out that she knew the parents of a couple of staffers, which doesn’t surprise me very much; as I often say, Maine is a big small town with very long streets.

It was a joy to have Joyce with me, and introduce her to my colleagues at the dinner before the speech. I told them all the facts: this is Joyce, she’s from Washington County, and her commonsense, bipartisan approach to governing represents the best of what we have to offer in Maine. Thanks again for coming, Joyce – it was truly a pleasure!

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