I’m writing for two reasons. The first is to re-introduce myself to the Bowdoin community as a candidate for office, and the second is to commend Emma Fortier for her spot-on column emphasizing the universality of both the opiate and housing crises.
My name is Dan Ankeles. I’m the current vice chair of the Brunswick Town Council and one of two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to represent District 100 in the Maine House of Representatives. Thank you to the Orient for being willing to publish a column from someone who is neither a student nor a member of the faculty or staff.
As Emma said so well, you shouldn’t have to be from Maine to be able to take on our most difficult challenges. Just like the other candidate in this race, just like Senator King and just like lawmakers all over the state, I was not born in Maine.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to sheepishly admit my Massachusetts roots over the last 12 years to those who were initially skeptical. I moved to Maine in 2010 because I fell in love with my wife Catherine and because Maine offered the chance for a fresh start to transition from journalism to a life actively fighting for what I believed in. These days I’m well settled in as a middle-aged dad, but I remember how nervous I felt at my first Brunswick Democrats meeting.
The entire Brunswick community has been so welcoming, and I have done my best to build trust by demonstrating a commitment to the community over the years and by being responsive when people reach out.
People “from away” can and frequently do make a difference. I had the opportunity as a legislative aide to help Rep. Genevieve McDonald, a lobster boat captain from Stonington, pass her bill, LD 994, ending criminal penalties for the possession of hypodermic needles—a concrete step to encourage people to call for help in the event of an overdose and to move us away from sending people who need treatment into the criminal justice system.
Here at the local level, our Council is preparing to consider a proposal for a land bank. It’s the same type of vehicle conservation groups use to secure important habitats, but instead it creates more opportunities to build housing for those who need it most. I also expect we’ll be tackling barriers to housing in our zoning ordinance later this year.
Building bridges and forging alliances with the Bowdoin student body is important both to me and to several Democratic activists in our community who are not formally affiliated with the College. In my view, we are natural allies, and all of us want the future you are building to rest on the strongest possible foundation.
Members of Sunrise Bowdoin have come before the Town Council multiple times to successfully advocate for the passage of Brunswick’s climate action plan. This plan is an essential step in enacting climate resiliency, electrifying our public vehicles and even something as innocuous as replacing our town’s streetlights.
On the campaign side, I drove a carpool of students to New Hampshire as part of a contingent of Maine volunteers for Elizabeth Warren, a champion of child-care access, corporate accountability and the wealthy paying their fair share.
In terms of state-level policy, I have been notarizing petitions that students are circulating to help Maine transition its electric utility from an offshore corporate monopoly to a consumer-owned and Maine-based utility.
Not to be a suck-up, but the Bowdoin community, with all its brain power and activist energy, is a real asset to Maine’s public policy sphere, and I hope that people reading this realize that this is how most of us who work on these challenges see you.
I’ll look forward to any opportunities to listen to and learn from you in the coming months, and of course you are always welcome to reach out anytime at either email@example.com or at 207-756-3793.
Dan Ankeles is the current vice-chair of the Brunswick Town Council.