Go to content, skip over navigation


More Pages

Go to content, skip over visible header bar
Home News Features Arts & Entertainment Sports OpinionAbout Contact Advertise

Note about Unsupported Devices:

You seem to be browsing on a screen size, browser, or device that this website cannot support. Some things might look and act a little weird.

At Bowdoin and Beyond: Morgan Rielly ’18

May 3, 2024

Courtesy of Morgan Rielly '18
THE WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER: Morgan Rielly ’18 serves as the state representative for Maine District 127, but in the off-season, he takes on a new role as an oyster farmer, following his passion for public service and his love for the ocean.

Although Maine has the oldest population in the country, one of Bowdoin’s younger alumni is making waves in Augusta.

Morgan Rielly ’18 currently serves as the state representative for Maine District 127, which encompasses part of his hometown, Westbrook. Rielly was first elected in 2020 and is on the ballot for a third term this fall. When not in the State House, Rielly works as an oyster farmer in Casco Bay.

Spending time on the water was key to Rielly’s time at Bowdoin, as a formative part of his college experience was rowing on the New Meadows River with the crew team. In addition to finding community, rowing allowed him to see the state from a new perspective.

“Being out in nature every morning with your best friends and watching people from out of state see the potential of Maine and also see the beauty of Maine and fall in love with it—I think that’s a really amazing thing to be able to watch and see, and I think that helped me appreciate the state more,” Rielly said.

Rielly first felt a pull to public service while he was a student at Bowdoin. A government and religion double major, he spent a summer as a Global Citizens Fellow through the McKeen Center for the Common Good in Amman, Jordan, where he volunteered with the Collateral Repair Project and worked with Syrian and Iraqi refugees. While in Jordan, Rielly watched the Unite the Right white supremacist rally unfold in Charlottesville, Va. and seriously began to consider pursuing a career in public service when he returned.

“It kind of got me thinking about how am I going to make my piece of the world better—not just for myself—but for those around me? What can I do to preserve our democracy?” Rielly said.

Rielly followed this urge to serve the public in the year after graduating from Bowdoin, when he worked at an immigration law firm in Boston. In the summer of 2019, after realizing that he was not thrilled by an office job, Rielly resigned from the law firm. He began volunteering in New Hampshire for Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign until the primary election in February 2020.

At the time, Rielly knew the current state representative for his district was not running for reelection due to term limits. After talking with his representative, Rielly decided to campaign for the open seat.

Campaigning during the onset and development of the Covid-19 pandemic, Rielly found it difficult to utilize traditional campaigning strategies to raise money. Accordingly, Rielly participated in Maine’s clean elections financing program, through which House candidates who raise 60 $5 donations can unlock money from the state to use in campaigning. Ultimately, Rielly won the Democratic primary and ran unopposed in the general election.

Rielly serves on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, which he calls the “everything bagel committee” given how it has become a catch-all for legislation that does not fit elsewhere. Rielly equated his experience on the committee to academics at Bowdoin, noting that the committee continually challenges him to explore new areas of policy.

“Like Bowdoin and the liberal arts, you have endless opportunities to learn about things that you never thought you’d learn about,” Rielly said. “If you told me in 2014, when I was a freshman at Bowdoin, that I would have to know so much about advance-deposit wagering or different gambling regulations, I would have been like, ‘What is going on?’”

One of Rielly’s biggest achievements has been establishing the Maine Climate Corps, a volunteer program facilitated by the state to address climate change at the local level. The Maine Climate Corps preceded the American Climate Corps and has been a model for similar programs in other states.

Not only is Rielly glad to have such an action-focused environmental protection program in place, but he is also proud of the coalition that came together in support of the program.

“I was able to pass it with unanimous bipartisan support. I was able to bring on Republican and Democrat, Independent and tribal representatives to  support this key piece of legislation that has had a real impact on the state and is going to continue to have this impact after I leave the legislature,” Rielly said.

Looking forward, Rielly is working on policies regarding protections for the working waterfront and aquaculture in the state, as well as ways to modernize the part-time state legislature.

Rielly noted that, though the Maine legislature has many older representatives in line with the state’s older population, there are young people—Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike—holding elected positions in Augusta. He also explained that being younger than most of his colleagues has not slowed his policy efforts. Instead, he considers his age to be an asset.

“My age has never been a barrier to anything in the legislature. Among my colleagues, I’ve never felt like they respect me less because of my age. In fact, I think they’re more willing to listen to me because I bring a different perspective,” Rielly said.

Rielly encourages Bowdoin students to bring their own perspectives and lived experiences off campus by exploring the state and taking advantage of job opportunities in Maine after graduation.

“While you’re a student, you should try to get outside of Bowdoin and try to engage with as many Mainers as possible,” Rielly said. “That will shape your life in ways that you might not fully understand at the moment, but will have a great meaning later down the road.”


Before submitting a comment, please review our comment policy. Some key points from the policy:

  • No hate speech, profanity, disrespectful or threatening comments.
  • No personal attacks on reporters.
  • Comments must be under 200 words.
  • You are strongly encouraged to use a real name or identifier ("Class of '92").
  • Any comments made with an email address that does not belong to you will get removed.

Leave a Reply

Any comments that do not follow the policy will not be published.

0/200 words