Since I was not afforded an opportunity to make my case in Jeff Tuttle’s article last Wednesday while celebrating my mother’s 80th birthday in Daytona (Winona says thanks to all her friends and well-wishers back in Bangor), please allow me that opportunity here. One question, in particular, was raised which deserves a response: Why would anyone invest $150,000 for a job paying only $9,000 a year? I suppose you could pose the same question to George Bush, Olympia Snowe or John Baldacci. However, the question was only posed to my campaign for the Maine Senate … although I suspect the answers would all be similar.
If one seeks public office merely as a job then I suppose such a naive question does make sense and it would be a foolish expenditure. However, if one seeks public office to improve his or her neighbors’ lives and have a say in spending millions of dollars of taxpayer hard-earned dollars, the answer is entirely different and totally logical.
For instance, I’ve already submitted legislation increasing the staffing of itinerant teachers under the Division of Blind and Visually Impaired serving northern Maine. If passed, these additional teachers will provide improved access to young, disabled and challenged Mainers in technical education, computer assistance, Braille and orientation and mobility; all worthwhile investments to improve youngsters’ opportunity for full and productive lives. I’m excited that expanded services will better enable 11-year-old Alex to not only reach his full potential more fully in the YMCA’s Barracuda Swim Team, but also expand his horizons in today’s technology revolution.
There are few things that give me goose bumps more than the standing ovation young, challenged swimmers receive when they’ve knocked two seconds off their best time, even if finishing last. Likewise, his 13-year-old sister, both legally blind from birth, will enjoy improved education in many quality of life skills.
Over the years, the Sawyer family has been blessed to donate millions to worthwhile programs benefiting local youth. Now, I’m excited to be working with staff from Catholic Charities of Maine to improve the lives of legally blind youth like Alex and his sister. So, I’d say my $150,000 investment is returning huge dividends already.
W. Tom Sawyer Jr.