In November of 2018, residents of Maine will have the opportunity to vote for new leaders within the government, including governor. As Paul LePage’s term comes to an end, several candidates have taken an interest in filling his position. Among these candidates is Janet Mills, a long-time Mainer from Farmington.
Mills grew up around the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) campus. She took a few courses at UMF, and attended several different colleges before settling down at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, where she earned a degree in French with a minor in English.
After getting her degree, Mills had no intention of getting involved in politics. After moving to Maine to attend law school, she began working in offices and eventually ran for District Attorney (DA). Mills was the first female DA in New England.
“I had to get involved in politics to have my job, and I loved the job. As district attorney, you have to show a lot of discretion,” Mills said. She held this position for 15 years. Following this, she went into work in the private sector for another 14 years. For six of those years, she worked part time in the legislature after being elected from Farmington.
“I was the first woman from Franklin County to serve in the legislature, which was scary. I ran four times successfully in a Republican and Independent district. The fourth time that I won, I was running for Attorney General as well, which is voted on by the legislature. From there, I went to Attorney General.”
A Farmington native, Mills thinks of herself as “sort of a polymorphic Mainer. I have deep roots all over the second congressional district.” She has four siblings, two of which also work within the government. Her sister was the head of the Department of Health, and one of her brothers was head of the Maine Turnpike Authority, on top of being a lawyer. She met her husband when she was district attorney, and together they raised his five daughters. Now a widow, she has four grandchildren spanning from ages four to 18. Her husband died three years ago after battling extended illnesses.
“One of my grandchildren has autism, and I have a deep understanding with people that have special needs,” Mills added.
When looking at policy areas, Mills puts health care at the top of her priorities. “Making sure all Mainers have access to affordable and high quality health care is important, and we can to this through expanding medicaid. This will happen, and I am going to help to make sure that this happens.”
After discussing this, she then talked about the opioid epidemic. “I am the only candidate with a 10-point-plan. My plan focuses on prevention, education and treatment. With this, we need to work on single-paired universal health care. The only way to make this successful is to combine with other states to pool our resources to make this happen. The state of Vermont tried this, but could not do it on their own.”
Next, Mills talked about economic growth in the state of Maine. “We need to work on growing the economy and creating good jobs as well as working on creating solar and renewable resources, energy sources, and energy development. I am a big fan of the work that’s being done at the University of Maine,” she said.
“I hope that during this campaign, we do not see any negative campaigning. I am running a positive issues-driven campaign through displaying my ideas about Maine. On top of this, I am hoping that the Democratic party does not become too divisive or polarized. While I hope it does not happen, we have to plan for a breakdown,” Mills said.
“I also care about investing in education. Growing the economy is big. With my previous positions, I know the ins and outs of the state budget. I am also the only candidate in this race that is from the second congressional district that has run for an executive agency.”
“Growing up in western Maine, I always looked up to George Mitchell. Also, I look up to Margaret Chase Smith, who was always a friend of the family as well as the first ever woman to serve in Congress and the Senate, which takes a lot of courage.”
For college students, Mills hopes to appeal to them as she is realistic and wants to get the job done. “I care about protecting the environment, and expanding higher education. I will not offer free tuition. While that would be nice, it is not realistic. I do like, however, that the board of trustees has encouraged out of state students to come here and pay what they would in-state. Keeping tuition low while growing the student population,” she added.
“I think that I have a record that I can be proud of,” Mills said. “Margaret Chase Smith had a slogan that I like to think about, and that is, ‘don’t trade a record for a promise’.”