THIS IS A STORY FROM THE DEERING SQUIRREL
Oh, how all of us who represent Portland will miss Anne Haskell! Her impending retirement from Augusta represents a major change in Portland’s legislative landscape. We’ll miss her wisdom, her humor, her generosity, and her stunning skill as a legislator, drawn from a public service career that has spanned decades, including six terms of the House and two in the Senate.
While it’s hard to generalize about Anne’s enormous body of work in Augusta, it’s fair to say that she’s never forgotten the everyday people who sent her there. It’s easy to point to her hard work around big issues like health care access and social justice, but it’s her list of small, pragmatic accomplishments that might best show her legislative personality. She knows the value of incrementalism, which is truly the way that change happens in divided government.
Last session, she added a new title to her list of distinctions, as she became “the Senator who made hair braiding legal in Maine”. Astonishingly, braiding, which carries special importance in the African immigrant community, required a beautician’s license to perform. Anne led the effort to de-regulate this activity, providing a small but important benefit to many of our immigrant neighbors as well as to the general business climate in Maine. This work around “hair liberation” is just one example of the breadth of her work. Over the years her legislation has included bills to enhance screening for breast cancer, improve housing security deposit options for low income Mainers, reform the juvenile justice system and make unemployment compensation fair for seniors, to name a few.
Beyond what she does in Augusta, Anne’s impact here at home is every bit as impressive. Both of us have repeatedly stood on stages with her, at events and in forums, and at every turn, we learn new things about our neighborhood and city. She’s paid a lot of attention to the details of this place, its history and its operation, yet she never lets her deep experience turn into superiority. Anne is always self-effacing, good humored, and unfailingly attentive. At the same time, she’s tough, and willing to fight for both our city and policies that are important for Maine.
She’s been the ideal citizen lawmaker, a great friend, and the kind of colleague one rarely finds in the real world. And so we wish you all the best, Anne, but understand that you can say goodbye but never really leave - we have not forgotten where Higgins Street is, and you’ll still be on our speed-dial lists in the years to come.