Wrapping eight years in the Senate

Senator Scott Cyrway delivers this week’s Republican Radio Address

By Senator Scott Cyrway

AUGUSTA –  When I retired from patrol at the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office in 2014, I remember getting a call asking me if I would run for Senate District 16 to replace a candidate who had to exit the race. I hardly knew anything about state government or how the Legislature operated. I didn’t even know what a caucus was. But I can say that after serving eight years in the Maine Senate, learning about our state and serving its people has been an amazing journey.

Hello, I am Senator Scott Cyrway of Kennebec County and I am pleased to join you for what is likely my final Republican Radio Address as a State Senator.

Sen. Scott Cyrway – Kennebec

Back then, the thought about getting into politics was so far off my radar. After the call with Robert Caverly – a former DARE student of mine – the idea soon became intriguing. So I ran and I won – plus three more races since – and what has stuck with me to this day is what I was told during my first day in office.

I walked into the Maine State House right beside my colleague Senator Paul Davis, whom I remembered from his state trooper days. While I didn’t know him personally, he was already a 14-year veteran of the State Legislature and gave me some sage advice that first day to begin my Senate service.

“Just don’t sign onto anything you don’t feel comfortable about,” I remember him telling me. “Don’t sign onto bills you don’t really want.”

Republicans held the Senate majority back then and it wasn’t long until I was appointed to the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee as its chair. I had thought my law enforcement career would be better suited for the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee – I would eventually serve on that committee – and I hardly knew anything about alcohol distribution, gambling rules or ballot machines. Yet I learned a lot from Veterans and Legal Affairs and the other committees I’ve served on; it’s been educational for me.

I really believe that if you’re objective and approach everything with an open mind, you learn more about a particular topic.

I’ve served with Paul on the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee and learned a lot from him as well as David Burns, a former state police detective from Washington County who served in the Senate. When I was first appointed to the Criminal Justice Committee, David served on that committee and showed me the ropes there. I’ve also served on the Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business Committee and Fire Protection Commission during my time in the Senate.

What I’ve learned the most from these two great people and others over these past eight years is that because you may have a difference of opinion – and sometimes a very strong one – you can never take it personally. I was fortunate to start my career being in the majority, yet I’ve ended it the past few years in the minority and with a much different perspective. And while you always have some disagreements – even within your own caucus – I think that’s healthy because it invites discussion and debate. It results in compromise. I’ve learned from that and grown as a Legislator.

What I was hoping to accomplish in running for that first term and since then has been to help people, keep Maine’s residents safe, and spend the least amount of money in doing so. Maybe it’s due to my law enforcement background, but I think a large part of it is that’s just who I am and what I believe.

One of my first bills during my first term in 2015 was establishing the Blue Alert, which is similar to an Amber or Silver Alert and rapidly deploys police assistance to locate an officer or suspect when an officer is shot, killed or gone missing in the line of duty. I happened to be at Tim Horton’s in Waterville and an officer from Fort Kent was there as he was attending the police academy nearby. He mentioned the need for it so I proposed it – it passed unanimously.

In my time in the Senate, I’ve been proud to sponsor several other bills that have been enacted into law including taking blood samples from an auto operator at the scene of a fatal accident; protecting firefighters from assault; better management of exotic animals; more penalties for drug offenses including longer sentences for the illegal importation of scheduled drugs; and taking care of our forest rangers and forest firefighters.

And just this spring I fought to keep Tina’s Law intact, a law named after Tina Turcotte who was killed by a driver with multiple license suspensions and convictions. The law is designed to reduce such habitual OUI and driving after suspension offenses through increased penalties.

As I finish my service in the Maine Senate, I leave knowing that those who may have disagreed with me over the years can say that I was always honest, I cared, and I always tried to do my best. We’ve accomplished a lot of good, and it’s been a great adventure. More importantly, it’s been an honor to serve the great people of Maine.

Again, I am Senator Scott Cyrway of Kennebec County and I hope you have a great weekend.

Senator Scott Cyrway is in his fourth term and represents Maine Senate District 16. He is the Senate Republican Lead for the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee and Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business Committee.

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