On Thursday, September 14, NCJW Southern Maine Section partnered with the Jewish Community Alliance (JCA) of Southern Maine to welcome Maine’s Speaker of the House, Sara Gideon, D-Freeport. Seventy-five engaged citizens gathered in the Sam L. Cohen Community Hall for the two-hour event. Patty Weber, NCJW’s State Policy Chair, welcomed Gideon and provided the audience with a brief overview of her recent accomplishments and legislative initiatives.
Gideon thanked NCJW and the JCA for inviting her to speak about both local and national issues affecting Maine citizens. She started off the night discussing her family background as a daughter of two immigrant parents who came to America from India (her father) and Armenia (her mother). She then discussed her marriage into a Jewish family and thanked her mother-in law, Linda Rogoff, a longtime Section member and past president, for her unending support.
Gideon expanded upon her goals and priorities as the Maine Speaker of the House. She emphasized: 1) Addressing food insecurity for the children of Maine, 2) Increasing economic opportunity in the state, and 3) Reversing and stopping climate change in our state and beyond. She then reflected on a variety of legislative initiatives and highlighted two that have had a direct impact on Maine families – expanding access to the overdose drug Naloxone, and introducing the Leveraging Investments in Families Today (LIFT) bill aimed at lifting Maine families out of deep poverty.
Gideon then suggested actions that citizens can take who want to be more active and involved in the legislative process. She recommended that citizens be loud (call your state senators), write letters to the editor of local newspapers, and that – as citizens – we make the effort to show up at the state house in Augusta to either testify before committees or simply be present to show support or opposition to a bill.