To speak about her policy goals with Brunswick residents and Bowdoin students and rally their support, Gov. Janet Mills stopped at the Town Mall as part of her re-election campaign trail on Sunday. Following a speech from the governor herself, attendees ventured into downtown Brunswick to canvass on her behalf.
Before Mills spoke, the Bowdoin Éireann Ye Olde Neo-Celtic Ensemble (BEYONCE) entertained the Brunswick residents and Bowdoin students as they mingled on the Mall. After BEYONCE’s performance, State Representative Mattie Daughtry (D-Cumberland) introduced the governor and endorsed her for re-election. Daughtry spoke highly of her experience working alongside Mills over the past several years.
“There are days that I leave the legislature and her light is still on, and I’m leaving in the dark,” Daughtry said. “Not only is she there to work hard, [but] she leads with people, she sits down at the table [and] she figures out how to get things done … I still pinch myself every time that I get to serve with the first female governor of Maine.”
In her speech, Mills spoke about her goals for re-election, employing the tagline “we won’t go back” in reference to the policies of her predecessor and opponent, Paul LePage. One significant focus of Mills’ speech was her plan to continue combating climate change and keep oil rigs off of Maine’s coastline.
“Not only is climate change not occurring according to my predecessor, but [LePage’s] solution to the economic issues [is to] drill for oil off our coast,” Mills said in her speech. “I cannot imagine anything more dangerous, more deadly to the … lives and livelihoods of fishermen and people up and down the coast … That’s not a future I want to see.”
Additionally, Mills spoke at length about her devotion to protecting reproductive rights in the state of Maine, citing LePage’s historical inconsistence in handling reproductive rights policy.
“As long as I am governor, my veto pen will stand in the way of any effort to rollback, modify or repeal our right to reproductive health care, including abortion,” Mills said in her speech.
Finally, Mills emphasized her initiative to forgive student loans for students who attend college in Maine and plan to establish their postgraduate lives and careers in the state. Through state legislation passed in summer 2022, people employed in Maine after college will get a tax credit to reduce the burden of student loans.
The Bowdoin and Brunswick Democrats collaborated to plan this rally and subsequent canvassing event. Bowdoin Democrats Vice President Ryan Kovarovics ’23 expressed satisfaction with the high turnout of students at the event and noted his hope that young people will continue prioritizing political participation.
“I think that people who pretend not to care, say they don’t care or choose not to participate [politically] are really shooting themselves in the foot, because they are choosing to neglect the reality instead of [improving] the town they live in, or the state they live in, or the country they live in,” Kovarovics said. “When citizens decide that politics don’t matter to them, or don’t affect them, or are too good for them, then we start to lose our democracy.”
Students who attended the event were eager to see the governor in person and hear what she had to say. Despite their own engagement, some students worried about that of their peers.
“As students, we’re the future of this country, and we’re going to be the ones that are running this place in 20 years. Our opinions and what we want to see from our elected officials matters,” attendee Jack Fletcher ’26 said. “I wish that officials would do a better job at getting students to come down and be a part of their campaigns and get them involved and excited about politics.”
Mills spoke about the importance of mobilizing the vote among young people and increasing civic engagement among younger generations.
“I think students need to be very vigilant about preserving our democracy. If you neglect it, it may fail,” Mills said in an interview with the Orient. “We have to fight to keep our democracy alive and well. That means engaging students in robust discussions at all levels.”
The event came just days before the debate between Mills and LePage and only two weeks before election day on November 8. Mills and LePage debated again last night and will meet a final time before the election on November 3.