Rep. Cornell du Houx: From legislative service to military service: Why I am withdrawing from the race

July 3, 2012

This first appeared in the Brunswick Times

Last December I was commissioned into the Navy Reserve as a public affairs officer. I now conduct operational support for US Central Command (Middle East operations).

Maine’s Legislature convenes in January 2013 at the same time I have orders from the Navy to report for active duty starting Jan. 8. I will receive mandated further specialized training for my job as a public affairs officer.

When on active duty, I am prohibited from working in any political manner, as members of the military are sworn to protect the Constitution and follow the orders of our civilian political leaders. I won’t be able to be at the State House to properly represent my constituents of District 66.

Our Legislature is part time, and the majority of lawmakers have other jobs. On average, a lawmaker — for this two-year public service job — earns $10,000 per year.I am 29, and realistically it is a challenge to find a career option that works with the legislative schedule. Being in the Marine reserves, since 2002, I served my community as well as my country at the same time as I was deployed to Iraq before my election in 2008.

I had requested an active duty date that did not coincide with the legislative session, but no slots were available, so I was assigned to Jan. 8.

I could go through the process and request another date. However, the events of late have given me time to consider the best way to continue in public service while I move forward with my future. I have chosen to take this opportunity to serve my community, state and nation by progressing my career in the Navy.

When Maine Democratic Party chairman Ben Grant revisited a private issue that was made public last May, his unnecessary comments reignited false accusations even though I was cleared by the police. Unfortunately, his unprofessional commentary will impact my re-election.

These allegations were withdrawn by a Belfast court on May 14, 2012. The State Police never even saw the need to interview me during their investigation and dismissed the matter. Their investigation ended on May 11, before my former fiancée and I finalized an agreement.

After Grant made his statements, I received many calls encouraging me to run, and my reaction was to stay in the race. However, it is my responsibility as a lawmaker to analyze what is best for my constituents.

I will continue to serve as a state representative in Augusta until the new Legislature is sworn in next year. I remain committed and dedicated to serving and protecting my community through the Legislature, coaching, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, chairing the Mitchell Scholar Alumni Council and as an officer in the Navy.

I’m heartened that our community, and the people of Maine, will benefit from my legislative committee work this year.

We successfully held back efforts to ram through proposals that would have undercut energy efficiency and Maine’s renewable energy standards.

I wrote and we passed a law to weatherize the State House.

I was successful in passing legislation to reduce the state’s dependency on oil, which improves our energy security and our bottom line. Gov. Paul LePage praised another law of mine that protects oil and gas consumers.

Ensuring our state and our country meet our veterans’ needs continues to be a passion of mine, and this legislative session I worked on many veterans’ issues, including the first ever women veterans’ memorial at the State House and a women veterans’ recognition program.

I am currently leading the first ever delegation of veterans working in government to Australia on a State Department trip for an exchange in government-to-government relations.

I am looking forward to serving my community, state and nation as an officer in the Navy. I wish to thank the people of Brunswick for your support. It has truly been an honor to serve you. I hope you will give me another opportunity to represent you in Augusta in the future.

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx is a Democrat who represents House District 66 in the Maine Legislature.