Born and raised in Bryant Pond, Maine, a rural part of the state nestled among the White Mountains, Maine State Representative now represents the good people of Portland in the Maine House of Representatives. She is an outspoken leader, renowned for her straight forward talk and populist initiatives.
After graduating college, she helped lead a citizen's initiative to address the issue of student debt. The team of upstarts collected more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, and then lobbied it straight through the Legislature with a unanimous vote in the Maine House of Representatives - the first citizen's initiative to receive such a vote. The Opportunity Maine Program now provides a dollar for dollar tax credit against the student loan payments of people who graduate college in Maine and then live and work in the state. The Drum Major Institute listed it as one of the Top Ten Progressive Policies of the year nationally. She went on to help found Opportunity Maine, a non-profit focused on Maine economic issues.
When she first ran for office, she was working as a cashier at the local mom and pop Italian deli, Colucci's, on the top of Munjoy Hill in Portland. During her tenure in the legislature, the stories of her "regulars" keep her grounded in the critical issues facing our state - and this country. Whether it's working to address Maine's heating crisis, advocating for student debt issues, working to raise awareness of broadband access for rural states or fighting for a more pragmatic approach to marijuana consumption or fighting for voting rights, her working class roots keep her focused on the pocketbook issues of real people.
During the 2010 "Red Tide," Maine Republicans launched a fight to repeal Same Day Registration, a right Mainers had utilized for nearly four decades. She led the legislative fight to attempt to stop it, but the GOP had the majority and rammed it through on a party-line vote. She spent the summer volunteering with with advocacy groups who launched a people's veto to overturn the new law. When the polls closed on Election Day, 60 percent of Mainers had voted to restore Same Day Registration.
The Nation magazine named her as the Most Valuable State Representative in the country in its 2011 Progressive Honor Roll. Her work has been featured in Rolling Stone, Glamour, Think Progress, and she's not afraid to discuss shoes with Jezebel. She has been published in The Hill, Roll Call and the Huffington Post. Find her on Facebook or Twitter @MissWrite.