Maine House Speaker Mark Eves in his State House office. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Editorial by Rep. Joan Welsh and Rep. Peggy Rotundo, First appeared in the BDNMaine is fortunate to have a citizen Legislature. The lawmakers in Augusta come to the capital city from all walks of life. We are teachers, doctors, farmers, small-business owners, retirees, parents and grandparents.
We are not career politicians. We ran to help our neighbors and better our state, not launch bombastic fights.
Strong, collaborative leadership is required to govern and lead. That’s why we write to share our perspective on a Nov. 7 BDN article “Battered by LePage, ‘pushover’ Speaker Mark Eves urged to fight back.”
As the House chairs of committees charged with protecting our natural resources, balancing the budget, safeguarding the health of our people and holding government accountable, we have had to tackle some of the biggest and most controversial challenges facing our state. We have been very proud to serve under the leadership of Eves.
The issues we face in our committee rooms are ripe for disagreement and discord — budget gaps, mining laws, health care for our citizens and investigations of abuse of power, to name a few. But Speaker Eves has always encouraged and expected us to lead our committees fairly with civility, respect and, most importantly, to focus on getting results.
He has led by example, time and again. He has refused to engage in personal attacks and has always chosen the high road, even when faced with worst personal attack and blackmail from the governor.
He has stood strong against Gov. Paul LePage, refusing to give huge tax breaks to the wealthy and building bipartisan support against the governor’s proposal to cut prescription drug support for the elderly.
Like most Mainers, we were appalled by the governor’s bullying and threats that led to Eves being fired from his job at the Good Will-Hinckley school for at-risk youth. The abuse of state dollars and power against a political opponent in this case is inexcusable.
We are impressed with Eves’ strong and purposeful response. He is right to sue the governor personally in state and federal courts. But he has made clear that he will not allow the governor’s actions to distract him from doing the work the people sent all of us elected officials to Augusta to do.
Eves’ calm fortitude, his kindness, his ability to listen to others and his focus on the issues have kept our government running. These are the character traits in leaders that are sorely lacking in today’s world of political theater.
While Eves and the Republican Senate President Mike Thibodeau disagree on most issues, they have found a way to work together to deliver results for the people of Maine.
Eves’ collaborative style has served our state well. Last year, we passed a budget that invests $80 million more in our local schools, doubles property tax relief, and provides a middle class tax cut to nearly 600,000 Maine people.
When mining interests attempted to undercut our natural resources, Eves encouraged a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers to reject it. When we needed to come together with our Republican colleagues to address the needs of seniors in our state, Eves led the effort to pass a senior housing bond and to ensure health care workers who care for our seniors could get a much needed raise.
While many of the governor’s policies harm struggling families working to get back on their feet, Eves has made growing good jobs and strong wages in our state a top priority in the fight against poverty. Under his leadership, we’ve passed legislation to bolster workforce training — and we’ve done it by working with business leaders across the entire state.
These accomplishments would not have happened if the speaker of the Maine House marched into the governor’s office to pick a fight. They would not have happened if Eves had held press conferences haranguing Republicans.
Maine people deserve a leader who shows up to get the job done. Eves is that leader.
Rep. Joan Welsh, D-Rockport, is House chair of the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, is House chair of the Appropriations Committee. They are joined in this message by Rep. Chuck Kruger, D-Thomaston, and Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook. Kruger is House chair of the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee