Letter to the editor: Who’s Ready today to Serve in Augusta? Jan Dodge!

Fri, 05/04/2018 - 5:00pm

Dodge, “Driven to run, ready to serve” is the motto of a Belfast native running for House District 97.  Jan’s life has been preparing her for this moment - to represent Belfast, Northport and Waldo at the Maine State House.

Jan’s passion caught my attention as President of the Waldo County Retired Teachers, running the meeting with humor, efficiency and speed! She retired after teaching H.S. music Downeast for 30 years.

Jan is an experienced citizen advocate. For 19 years, she served on the MEA (Maine Education Association) Government Relations Committee, keeping current on issues of education, health insurance, legislation and policy, and attending 3 state and national advocacy trainings. As part of her training in D.C. in September 2017, she met with Senator Susan Collins, Senator Angus King and staff for Representatives Pingree and Poliquin.

While teaching, Jan served in leadership roles in the Sullivan teacher’s union (currently RSU24) and was on the contract negotiating team.  As part of the MEA Retired Legislative Committee, Jan testified and lobbied on state issues in Augusta.  On the Rapid Response Team, she was able to appear at hearings when teachers and other educational employees could not testify due to work commitments.

Someone who cares deeply about her community, Jan has spent a big portion of her “retirement” as a community activist.  In 2012-13, she was involved in the “Thanks, But No Tanks” effort to keep a liquid natural gas terminal out of Searsport, attending planning meetings and demonstrating against this incursion. She has been advocating for Waldo County residents in Augusta - pressuring legislators to fully fund the Stand Up for Students Referendum at the promised 55% level. She’s testified so often that many legislators know her by name and face.         

Jan is a problem solver who wants to know what concerns Waldo County residents.  She was there on the ground floor when Aging Well in Waldo County designed and conducted a needs survey, receiving 1,000 responses. She now serves as Chair. The group found that the three most pressing issues among elders are “housing, transportation and isolation.”  

To help deal with the housing crisis, Jan has been working on a planning committee with the Aging Caucus in Augusta. One outcome of this work is a Housing Summit, to find housing solutions for Mainers, a day long meeting on May 31 at the Hutchinson Center for builders, planning boards, and real estate agents. Attendance is by invitation only.

To work on the problem of transportation and isolation, Jan has joined the Waldo Transportation Advisory Work group, to increase Waldo County public transportation and local volunteer driving networks.

Confident, active, and above all, passionate, Jan is ready TODAY to be our State Representative in Augusta. Vote Dodge, “Driven to run, ready to serve” on June 12th.

Linda Garson Smith lives in Belfast