By Emily Mokler Editor-in-Chief
Democratic nominee for the US House of Representatives Jared Golden visited UMF to speak to gathered students and locals about himself and his views. Golden currently represents Lewiston in the Maine House of Representatives, and is running against Republican incumbent Rep. Bruce Poliquin.
Jeffrey Willey, the president of the UMF College Democrats, introduced Golden to the crowd, who took up every seat with some standing in the back of Roberts C23. Golden wore blue jeans and a blue plaid button-down, his tattoo of a cross on his right arm revealed as he held the microphone.
Golden greeted the crowd and mentioned that several other local politicians running for positions in the Maine Legislature were present, including Jan Collins and Scott Landry. Those in the audience could speak to all of them after the town hall. Golden spoke for nearly an hour, and then answered questions one-on-one with audience members.
“It’s not easy being in politics today because of the tough political environment,” Golden said.
Golden was studying at UMF to become a history teacher when 9/11 occurred, which inspired him to join the Marines. He served two combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Golden spoke frankly about his diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after his time in the Marines; “I think most people think of [PTSD] as an incapacitating disease that keeps people from being successful in life, or unable to work, or unable to be a leader in their community, and that’s just not true.”
After being in the Marines, Golden attended Bates College as a nontraditional student. Golden lamented that an ad online took a comment about fitting in as the oldest student at Bates out of context to spin it as though he was embarrassed of his military service. Post-graduation, Golden volunteered at a school in Afghanistan and worked as an aide for Sen. Susan Collins in Washington, D.C.
Golden also referenced when Gov. Paul LePage said Lewiston lawmakers such as Golden should be “rounded up and executed”, calling vitriol representative of everything wrong with politics.
Golden asked the crowd to raise their hands if they were sick of politicians blaming the other side for political shortcomings. A majority raised their hands. Golden described himself as willing to work across the aisle to heal the deep political wounds in America.
Willey said, “Your vote matters. Your opinion matters. Learning about these people [running] is very important because they are representing your values. If you aren’t expressing your will to them, they won’t listen.”
Willey cited the local example of the 2016 Maine House of Representatives race for the Farmington and New Sharon district. Democrat Scott Landry won Farmington, but incumbent Republican Lance Harvell won the seat with less than 100 votes.
“It doesn’t matter what your party affiliation is, just get out and vote, especially students,” Willey said. “They have this huge voice that they’re not using.”
Mariah Langton, a sophomore Early Childhood Education major, attended the town hall. Langton said, “Voting is one of the most important things I’ll do this year. I want to have a say in who will be representing me and the state in the future!”
The event was organized by the Franklin County Democrats and the UMF College Democrats as a follow-up to a Democratic candidate forum held back in April.
The midterm elections are being held on November 6th.