Christine Powers ready for new political challenge

 

DUAL ROLE — New State Representative Christine Powers of Naples plans to serve in Augusta, and yet remain on the Naples Board of Selectmen. She can be reached at by e-mail at cbpowers@me.com or by phone at 318-2511.

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — The long-time resident and local librarian refers to herself as someone who adores politics almost as much as volunteerism. For Christine Powers, being involved in both over the years has been rewarding.

But, keeping up on state politics has been a long-time passion, she said.

“I am a political junkie,” said Powers, the newly-elected State Representative for District 101.

Powers said it was exciting to be in Augusta and watch the goings-on during her recent swearing into office.

“Augusta is a great capitol. It’s so accessible. It is not intimidating because it is not located in a large city. Instead, it feels like a small town. It feels very people-friendly,” she said, describing the State House building as “impressive and regal.”

Powers will continue to serve simultaneously on the Naples Board of Selectmen — a job she believes has prepared her for stepping into the House of Representatives position.

“I love being a selectman; and, I like how well we work together. I consider each of them a friend that I could call upon. We have a great mutual respect for one another,” she said.

“We don’t agree on everything, but we agree to disagree civilly,” she said.

Before making any decisions regarding leaving her seat, Powers researched it. There are no laws or ordinances stating a person cannot serve on both, she said.

“In May 2013, it will be the second year of my three-year term. I will either decide not to stay, or I may try to finish off the last year,” she said.

Eleven years as a selectman has taught her something about casting her vote.

“I am a Democrat, and I have some really strong positions — for me, personally,” she said.

“Even when I vote against my personal beliefs, it is the will of the people.

When people come to meetings and express concerns, I listen and hear what they have to say,” Powers said.

“Sometimes, a vote from the heart is what is right,” she said.

“Most frequently, if you are an effective politician, you have to vote for your town or your district. You have to vote for what has the most benefit to the people,” she said.

For Powers, her future in Augusta’s political arena will include issues such as the tar sands pipeline, funding for local schools, and informing residents about the circuit-breaker program, which provides tax refunds.

A big fan of social media, Powers plans to use networking to notify people of state legislation that might affect them.

“I am big on technology, I use the social media a lot; and I used it through my campaign. I will use it to get information to people in District 101,” she said. Also, to keep tabs on what matters most to her constituents, Powers plans to hold ‘meet and greets’ at area businesses.

“It will be good for people who want to ask questions. It will be good for me to talk to people, and it will be good for area businesses,” she said.

She credited her legislative aid for coming up with some great ideas about setting office hours to answer phones and e-mails as well as ways to mingle with the public.

She plans to contact owners of coffee shops and local restaurants to have two-hour-long events that would allow people to learn about and to air concerns about issues on the state level. She said an ideal time might be on mid-afternoon on a Friday or Saturday. For area restaurants, it would be timed before the dinner rush.

Later this month, Powers will find out about her committee assignments. When session resumes in January, she plans to co-sign some legislation that pertains to her district.

“One of the issues I want to address is the tar sands pipeline,” she said, admitting she was trying to research as much as she could.

“I hope to talk to people in Augusta about what is going on. If it is going to happen, what is the best safe way?

“It is a 60-year-old pipeline. It doesn’t sound safe. We should proceed carefully and cautiously,” Powers said.

“The tar sands pipeline issue is about protecting the lakes, protecting the water quality. That is what we have, great clean water. We need to make sure it stays that way a long time,” she said.

Another pet issue is finding ways to earmark more funding for public education in her district.

In recent years, School Administrative District No. 61 has lost federal and state funding, she said.

“I think we are doing great job, but the schools are stretching resources. I want to be an advocate for public education in this community. It is a great school district. My daughter had a great (academic) career here. And, I want to see that continue,” Powers said.

When she was a new resident in Naples, Powers started the journey from volunteer mom to school employee.

“My daughter came home from kindergarten and said, ‘There are lots of helper moms. Can you be a helper mom?’ ” she said.

Powers has a degree in Internet Technology; and used her education to help students with computer technology.

“At Crooked River Elementary, I got an award for volunteering the most hours of any parent. That was nice. I was tickled by receiving the award,” she said.

 

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