We are living through hard times, unprecedented times. So much uncertainty leaves us feeling scared, helpless, and sometimes angry. But these are also hopeful times that have brought forth the best of our community in wave after wave of kindness and compassion.
I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the work that we’ve been doing over the past couple of months and the incredible lessons I’ve learned that all go back to one truth: we are living a new kind of politics.
As many of you know, I am the state representative for District 88 (Chelsea, Whitefield, Jefferson, and part of Nobleboro). This year, I am running for state Senate in District 13, challenging Sen. Dana Dow.
We launched our campaign in January with the vision of connecting with all of you face to face, at the doors, at house parties, community events, and so much more as we built a bigger, better, broader vision of what values-based community politics could look like.
When COVID-19 hit Maine, we immediately put our campaign on pause. We knew that hard times were coming to District 13, and that it was no time to campaign. But we already had a mighty network spanning from Wiscasset to Waldoboro, Boothbay to Whitefield, and we wanted to use that network to help folks in our community.
And so we pivoted our infrastructure from our personal capacities to our volunteer capacity, and set to work organizing our growing network to support seniors in District 13 during the COVID-19 crisis. Our campaign was always meant to be by and for the people of District 13. Right now our community is in need, and so we are there for our community.
We’ve organized through neighbor-to-neighbor phone calls. We began by calling every senior living alone in Jefferson to test out the vision and learn how to make it work. In one day, we called everyone and found many seniors with serious needs. I talked to one woman that night who was running out of food. We connected her with the Jefferson Food Pantry, and they sent someone over right away to check on her.
From there, we made our phone banking efforts public and expanded our reach to every senior in District 13. We call everyone — regardless of political persuasion. We have one simple goal: to connect with seniors, make sure that they are OK, and connect them with the people, resources or information they need.
The response has been incredible. As of the last week of April, we had almost 200 folks sign up to volunteer with us. We have now called every senior in the district. That’s 10,879 calls total, reaching 3,214 people.
We’ve connected people with the Lincoln County Food Initiative, picked up prescriptions for folks, given rides to urgent medical appointments (since most local ride services have shut down), and more. We had one woman request large-print books so that she could read. A volunteer tracked some down and delivered them to her door. Another volunteer connected with someone through our phone-bank who asked for the New York Times, and yet another stepped up to pay for the month-long subscription. We have multiple volunteers who check-in with people daily or weekly to make sure that everything is OK. Ours is a network of hope and love — it is truly a special thing.
We work in coordination with local food relief efforts and share our resources. For example, we work with Main Street Grocery to help them with volunteers for their weekly grocery deliveries. I am on bi-weekly calls with the Lincoln County Food Initiative to make sure that we are up to date on their process. (LCFI is an incredible effort doing truly stunning work to ensure that everyone has access to food!)
We have learned that there is a better way forward not only for politics but for campaigns. For us, campaigns are not just about getting one person elected. They are not just about a day in November. They are about our community. They are about building something that endures beyond Election Day, as it creates bonds of true connection throughout our community. I believe that politics is service and should support and provide for the needs of our community. This campaign is not about me. It never has been, and it never will be. It’s about us.
I am honored to live here with you all in Maine’s Senate District 13. We live in a home worth fighting for. We are special. We are strong. We protect each other. That is where I root myself — in us.
Chloe Maxmin of Nobleboro is a Democratic state representative and a candidate for state Senate.