Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx is highlighted in a new book, On Point: Voices and Values of the Young Elected Officials, along with 15 others nationwide, by Jeff L. Thigpen. Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell wrote an introduction to the book, mentioning his Mitchell Scholarship program, of which Cornell du Houx was a recipient while at Bowdoin College. Cornell du Houx is one of seven state lawmakers in the book and the only one from Maine.
Cornell du Houx is in his second term, representing Brunswick District 66. He serves on the Energy, Technology and Utilities Committee, is chair of the Veterans Caucus, and former vice-chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Agriculture and Energy Committee. He is also a member of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.
Cornell du Houx joined the Marine Reserve in 2002 and was deployed to Iraq in 2006, spending a year patrolling the streets in and around Fallujah. In December 2011, Rep. Cornell du Houx was commissioned in the Navy Reserves. He serves as a public affairs officer stationed out of Bangor, Maine. He conducts operational support for US Central Command (Middle East operations).
“I have served and continue to serve our country in the military since 2002, and the people of Brunswick in the Legislature simultaneously since 2008,” said Cornell du Houx.
“I had the misfortune to be on Food Stamps for a while, until my parents worked their way off them. Many of the kids I grew up with didn’t imagine themselves going to college, especially not to a private school like Bowdoin, where I graduated with a degree in government and legal studies,” reads On Point interview with Cornell du Houx. “Growing up in Solon gave me perspective on many things, helping me to have a better understanding of the economic and social environments that shape different parts of the state and how legislation impacts them. Community service was an important part of my high school experience.”
At Bowdoin College he began community organizing with the Maine College Democrats. Under his leadership, they grew from three chapters in the state to twenty-three. He has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity since 2002 in his district and now sits on the board.
Sen. Mitchell publicly commented, “Alex’s commitment to serving the greater good may be equaled by a rare few, but it is surpassed by none.”
Rep. Cornell du Houx is chair of the Mitchell Scholarship Alumni Council and is working to promote clean energy and jobs in his district and across the nation. From 2009 to 2012, he worked with the Truman National Security Project on national security and energy issues.
While he worked for the Truman Project in Washington, DC, he brought veterans of all wars together to form a coalition called Operation Free, who’s mission is to strengthen our security by reducing our dependence on oil. He organized and took part in press events at the White House about the issue. In each state, he recruited and trained future leaders, elected officials, their staff, nonprofits, and others involved in national security. He went on national bus tours with Operation Free, raising awareness with each veteran’s personal story as to how America’s dependency on foreign oil is a national security threat. The bus came to Maine in 2009. The Truman Project won the national coveted REED award for the campaign.
“Our security organizations are taking very seriously the issues of energy independence and national security, which is changing the debate and raising awareness about how our dependence on oil poses a threat to our economy and our security. The Navy is launching the Great Green Fleet with hybrid destroyers in 2016. This should not be a partisan issue. My work with the Truman National Security Project included focusing on educating members of Congress and other elected officials on why to take this issue just as seriously as our military is,” said Cornell du Houx in the book, On Point.
With the Truman Project, he also traveled to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen for the climate negotiations, where he spoke at an international press conference, participated on panels, and promoted Maine’s leadership in weatherization and Regional New England Greenhouse Gas Initiative programs.
During this legislative session of 2012, Rep. Cornell du Houx defended Maine’s renewable-energy portfolio, which has boosted the state’s economy, according to a recent London Economics report. He successfully created a law to weatherize the Statehouse and passed legislation to reduce the state’s dependency on oil. The second-term lawmaker wrote legislation praised by Gov. LePage, to protect oil and gas consumers, and worked on many pieces of legislation to support veterans.
“Our strong team, led by members like Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx of Brunswick and Rep. Mark Dion of Portland, were able to negotiate effectively with commonsense Republicans. At the end of the day, we did what was best for Maine ratepayers, residential consumers and businesses alike,” said Rep. Jon Hinck, who serves on committee with Rep. Cornell du Houx.
Rep. Cornell du Houx sits on the VA Homeless Veterans Working Group, as well as the Veterans Caucus and has progressed the quality of life for Maine Veterans significantly.
• His legislation made Maine one of the only states in the nation that allows any veteran to take advantage our quality higher education system at no cost in conjunction with the 21st Century GI Bill.
• Another law of his evaluates and addresses the issue of Maine’s homeless veterans.
• Cornell du Houx helped find funding to hire a veterans’ service officer in southern Maine, as the veterans’ center was closed, and Cumberland and York Counties have the highest population of veterans.
• The state representative helped provide by law free access for all veterans to our state parks and historical sites.
• He was instrumental in the establishment of the first memorial to Women Veterans in the State House Hall of Flags.
• He cosponsored a law to join an interstate compact that makes the transition easier for children of military members entering new school systems.
• He passed a resolution to request that Congress provide a higher percentage of the funding to operate Maine’s armories, as our service members are being utilized at a higher level by the federal government. Prior to this resolution, the National Guard was forced to sell property to pay for armory upkeep.
• He continues working to bring a Veterans Green Jobs program to the state, which trains veterans in weatherization and clean-energy technology jobs.
His commitment to the state’s renewable-energy policies and research and development has helped the economy. Cornell du Houx submitted legislation to create Pine Tree Economic Development Zones to encourage renewable-energy investment, which was rolled into a committee bill and is now helping boost economic investment in Maine.
He worked hard on the law that declares the state’s goal to weatherize every house and half of businesses in Maine. He wrote legislation to promote renewable-energy investment at Brunswick Landing and actively worked successfully to bring the University of Maine’s and Southern Maine Community College’s advanced composite program to Brunswick Landing.
He sponsored/cosponsored legislation to help prevent tarsand oil from entering the state, recycle fluorescent light bulbs, and to ensure responsible water extraction. He supports Maine bonds to help grow jobs, preserve Maine lands, promote an innovation economy with R&D, improve transportation infrastructure and education institutions as well as water infrastructure. He is also an advisor to the Earth Day Network and a board member of the Brunswick/Topsham Riverwalk.
He believes health care is a right, not a privilege. He worked for the Governor’s Office of Health Policy and Finance during the Baldacci administration and has been active in lobbying for quality, accessible, affordable health care for everyone at the national, state, and community level.
Cornell du Houx worked on and cosponsored successful legislation to protect family caregivers, to provide for mothers in the workplace. He also cosponsored a law to promote physical education in schools to prevent childhood obesity, as well as a law to require that insurance companies provide dental care for all children by age one instead of four.
Cornell du Houx is passionate about equal rights for all. At the Statehouse he worked to change the rules to allow our two Native American representatives to have their names displayed with the rest of the Legislature. He also cosponsored a law to end discrimination in civil marriage and affirm religious freedom. He submitted and cosponsored a successful law to protect tenants during foreclosures and help homeowners keep their homes.
“Alex’s personal story exudes a profound sense of duty, honor, and service to country — as an officer in the Navy, community leader, and in the Maine State Legislature. Those unique values have shaped his advocacy work for veterans, renewable energy, and energy independence,” said the author of On Point, Jeff Thigpen.
In his community, Cornell du Houx has volunteered in the Brunswick school system for six years as an America Counts and Reads tutor and coaches boys lacrosse and soccer at the Brunswick junior high school. He also worked to improve the Maine Learning Results in underage substance abuse and athletic policy. And he brought a financial literacy program to Brunswick’s high school.
Cornell du Houx also worked for a summer on a local organic farm and supports organic farms and farmers’ markets. As a member of the Rail Caucus, he continues to work hard to bring more passenger and freight trains to Brunswick and the rest of the state.
He just finished a week, at the Naval War College, where he trained senior members of the military as part of a joint task force war game evolution.
Next month “I will be helping the Inaugural Young Leaders Climate Action Network program, which brings elected officials and future leaders from across the nation together to combat climate change,” said Cornell du Houx.
In July he will be leading to Australia the first ever delegation of veterans who are elected officials and work in government.
“It’s a State Department trip to foster government-to-government relations. We will meet with their parliament, administration, and NGOs for two weeks, and then they will then come to the United States to do the same,” he said.
Last year Cornell du Houx traveled to Malaysia and Indonesia in a similar manner.
On Point will be available in June at online retailers and your local bookstore or directly from the publisher, Polar Bear & Company.
Note: Personnel of Maine Insights compiled this story. The director of the 501(c)4 nonprofit is Ramona du Houx.