November 9, 2012

State Senator Peggy Rotundo celebrates the budget she worked on, at it’s signing, with Gov. John Baldacci and fellow legislators in 2007. photo by Ramona du Houx

The National Association of Social Workers honored Rep. Margaret (Peggy) Rotundo of Lewiston with its Legislator of the Year Award for 2012. The Association cited her commitment and dedication to the well-being of Maine’s most vulnerable residents, particularly the elderly, women and children.

Working through the dawn hours, trying to broker a sensible solution with Republicans over the budget, is often a thankless job — not noticed by the majority of people who are fast asleep, not appreciated half as much as it should be. It’s a job Rep. Peggy Rotundo accomplishes with balance, and expertise.

The former state senator Rotundo serves on the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee – the committee that determines how to balance the state budget. Peggy Rotundo has always been a tireless advocate for people who, by no fault of their own, need to rely upon the services of state government. Over the past two years her zeal, dedication and compassion helped to hold back the extreme attacks waged by a Republican controlled Legislature and Gov. Paul LePage.

Rotundo has been outspoken, highlighting the areas where the LePage administration are trying to cut services by attempting to manipulate the financial accounts. This is not known publically as a “manipulation” but some in the LePage administration have said they just didn’t “know” the real figures. At every step of the way Rotundo has stood up and by the people of Maine.

Rotundo also works at Bates College in Lewiston where she established service-learning programs which have gained national recognition for their effectiveness.

Rotundo enjoys job shadowing days where constituents can see first hand what it’s like to work in state government. She inspires youth naturally. She frequently speaks to youth groups, encouraging them to think about a career in public service.

She co-chaired the Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission she stresses the importance of states becoming more involved in international trade issues.

“We are a nonpartisan group, comprised of people from various backgrounds, who believe in and understand the importance of international trade and the critical role it will play in the future of Maine,” stated Rotundo in 2008. “The trade agreements that are negotiated must, however, be fair to Maine workers and small business people in our state. They also must not get in the way of Maine’s ability to make laws to protect the health and well- being of its people.”

The Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission was established by the Maine Legislature in ’04 to assess and monitor the legal and economic impacts of trade agreements on state and local laws, working conditions, and the business environment. The commission also provides a mechanism for citizens and legislators to voice their concerns and recommendations and to make policy recommendations designed to protect Maine’s jobs, the business environment, and laws from any negative impact of trade agreements.

“We believe that trade agreements should be negotiated in a public and transparent manner; safeguard local and state lawmaking authority and level the playing field for small businesses in Maine and elsewhere; guard against the unintended consequences of agreements that impede access to basic human services such as education, heath care, energy and water,” said the senator. “Also, to promote and strengthen basic human rights, labor rights, and environmental rights, protecting and raising standards in developing countries in order to prevent a ‘race to the bottom’ which hurts Maine businesses, workers, and communities.”

The representative is deeply committed to her work, always encouraging, with grace and fortitude. She brings dignity and integrity to negotiations and has a unique way of returning members back to the focal point of discussion.

It’s no surprise that Eleanor Roosevelt is a role model. “She always spoke her mind, had a big heart and showed the nation that Democrats help to give a hand up to those in need,” said Rotundo, who could have been speaking about herself.