Reflecting on my time in the Maine Senate

Sen. David Woodsome delivers this week’s Republican Radio Address

By Senator David Woodsome

AUGUSTA – When I decided to run for office, I had just finished a 35-year teaching career that spanned two area high schools. I ran for the Maine Senate because of a sense of duty instilled in me by my family’s deep tradition of community involvement and public service. My hope was that my career experience would make a difference.

Sen. David Woodsome – York

Hello, I’m Senator David Woodsome of York County and since this is my last year in the Maine Senate, it’s my pleasure to bring you my final address as a State Senator.

My family was big into civic involvement. My father and older brother, in particular, were a selectman, road commissioner and volunteer firefighters. There was a lot more community involvement back in the ‘50s; and, through my upbringing, that kind of public service inspired me to pursue my teaching career.

After graduating from the University of Maine, I became a high school educator and began teaching in 1969 – yes, you had to wipe the chalk dust off your shoes back then. I taught social studies and history at Massabesic High School, and physical education and health and Fryeburg Academy until I finally retired in 2014.

By the time I retired, however, I was already a selectman in Waterboro and decided to run as a write-in candidate for a House primary that June. Now, write-in campaigns are always tough and often you don’t succeed – you’re late to the game and don’t have the benefit of being printed on the ballot. Convincing someone to write your name in a blank space instead is even harder.

Yet I almost won. The primary was decided by just a few votes, and it caught the attention of then-Maine GOP Party Chair Rick Bennett. Impressed with nearly winning a write-in campaign, he called me afterward and asked if I would be interested in running for the Maine Senate. I said, “Hey, I certainly am.”

How could I say no? During my teaching career, I had been a wrestling coach, a football line coach and even president of the Maine Wrestling Coaches Association for many years. In fact, my wrestling teams at Fryeburg Academy and Massabesic won state championships and at Fryeburg we won the Maine Prep School Championship and the New England Prep School Championship. So, here’s another challenge and another race – it was too enticing to pass up.

So, I said yes. I won that fall, and I’m still here today. Since I was Chair of the Waterboro Board of Selectman at the time, I chose to resign to dedicate all of my efforts to the Maine Legislature. And I’m glad I did.

The first thing that struck me was the hour-and-a-half-long drive to the State House. I remember coming down the hill off of Western Avenue behind Shaw’s and thinking, “Wow,” when I saw the dome as I drove along Capitol Street. Realizing then where I was headed made quite an emotional impact on me. And just walking in the doors was a mind-blowing experience – I had never been inside the State House before.

My first appointment was to the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee as its chair, and yet I knew nothing about those areas. I can honestly say I didn’t even have any interest in it at the time. Well, that changed immediately when I realized how critical a role both energy and technology have in our economy, infrastructure, economic development and for consumers.

Admittedly, it took me years to master that committee as well as Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, State and Local Government and my latest appointment to Education and Cultural Affairs. And one of my greatest achievements didn’t even occur until last year when I sponsored a resolve, LD 313. With the passage of this measure, a working group has been convened to explore innovative approaches to advancing career and technical education opportunities for middle and high school students. While it’s still in progress, it was my most satisfying achievement.

In looking back at my time here, I’ve seen legislators come and go; and I think that’s an important point. Politicians are at the whim of the voters each cycle and some of us really don’t know what we’re doing once we get here. What really holds the Maine Legislature together is the staff behind the scenes who have the institutional knowledge and years of wisdom.

Behind the 189 Legislators who just happen to show up every two years are hundreds more who make sure this place runs correctly. From the staff in both the partisan and nonpartisan offices to our committee clerks, legal analysts and the crew in the Revisor’s Office, these people ensure our legislative and parliamentary processes are followed and Maine’s people are properly served.

As I close out my time, I want to say that it has been an honor to serve the people of both my Senate District 33 and the State of Maine. Whether it was the students I once taught, the athletes I once coached, or the constituents I have helped during my time in the Legislature, my life has been one of service to others and I hope I have made a positive impact.

Again, I’m Senator David Woodsome of York County, and I hope you have a great weekend.

Senator David Woodsome is in his fourth term in the Maine Senate and represents District 33. He is the Senate Republican Lead for the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee.

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