UMF Practical Politics Class Provides Students with an Opportunity to get Involved

By Aislinn Forbes Contributing Writer

Local Maine politics isn’t flashy. Candidates for Maine State Congress don’t have a lot of money, or high profile campaign organizers, or ads with perfect production value. But they do have a lot of say in Mainers’ daily lives.

Mariah Langton has been deeply involved with Jan Collin’s campaign, a Democratic candidate running for State Senate in Farmington’s district. Every week, Langton grabs a clipboard and walks or drives around Franklin County neighborhoods with Collins, knocking on doors and starting conversations with local residents about the elections. Langton has also served as a bridge between the other members of Collins’ campaign and the younger generation.

“I’m by far the youngest person on the team,” said Langton. “She really values my opinion.”

Langton is enrolled in UMF’s Practical Politics class, currently taught by James Melcher, which requires students to choose a campaign they would like to work on and dedicate time every week to their chosen campaign.

 “Students can pick whatever campaign they want,” assured Melcher. “I just want my students to play clean, fight hard, and learn something.”

Students aren’t limited to local campaigns; for example some students have contributed to Angus King’s campaign this semester and local candidates are very receptive to student involvement. Some local candidates even seek out Melcher to find out if there are students in the class at the time of their candidacy.  

Candidates, and their representatives, come into the class so students can get an idea of who they might like to work with. Allison Hepler, a History professor at UMF, spoke to the class about her bid to represent district 53 in the Maine House. Hepler was ecstatic to have students involved in her campaign.

 “Not only is it more efficient for me as a candidate,” said Hepler, “but also more fun!”

Langton decided to take the class because of her limited experiences and opportunities in the past. Living in rural Maine made it difficult for her to travel or get accurate information about her local campaigns, especially before she turned 18. The Practical Politics class presented her with the opportunity to learn more and get involved.

“I’ve learned a lot,” said Langton. “But as I learned it, it didn’t feel like a lot.”

 “Most people [that take the class] have never been involved in a campaign before,” said Melcher. But it’s not just about the experience and connections, ethics is also a big part of the class. Melcher wants his students to ask themselves, “What is ethical to do in a campaign?” and “Do I want to run myself?”


    Melcher inherited the class from his predecessor, Jack Quinn. Though Melcher is unsure of what year the class started, he knows it has been around since the early 1980’s at least. Many of the alumni of the class have gone on to professionally manage campaigns and serve in the Maine State Legislature, on both sides of the aisle. Lance Harvell, an alumni of the class, represents the Farmington area in the Maine House of representatives as a republican and has since 2009.


   “I’m proud,” Melcher said fiercely, “that my students are all over the spectrum.”

Student and Faculty Opinion: The Confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh

By Grace McIntosh Contributing Writer


     US Supreme Court Justice nominee Republican Brett Kavanaugh was officially confirmed by divided senators in a 50-48 vote. Kavanaugh’s recent confirmation has sparked heated debates and public outcry across the nation.

   Over the past few months, Kavanaugh’s name has been headlining news due to accusations of sexual assault. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick all came forward with allegations against Kavanaugh. The White House has stood by Kavanaugh’s denials.          

     Treasurer of UMF College Republicans, Isaac Michaud, explained mixed feelings on the situation. “On one hand, I believe that his judicial record and belief in precedence makes him a good candidate for the Supreme Court,” said Michaud. “On the other hand, I believe that the sexual assault allegations brought up by Dr. Ford made me not want Judge Kavanaugh confirmed.”

   Michaud stated that if it had been up to him he personally could not vote “yes” or “no”, he would have not been opposed if they decided to end the confirmation hearing to put another judge up for consideration.

     Jeffrey Willey, President of the UMF College Democrats, feels strongly that Dr. Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh were genuine. “Dr. Ford was clear and concise in her testimony and various people, including Mr. Kavanaugh’s college roommate, believed that the actions of Kavanaugh recounted by Dr. Ford were believable and truthful,” said Willey.

   Willey believes that the reputation of the Supreme Court’s reputation has been tarnished by the decision by the Senate. “This was a blatantly political appointment to a Court that is supposed to be non-partisan,” said Willey.

     Political science professor Scott Erb believed in confirming Kavanaugh before allegations surfaced. “I originally favored confirming him, believing he was intellectually solid and had a strong moral character,” said Erb.

   Erb changed his opinion when people began coming forward with accusations of sexual assault. “A lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court is a major honor, given only to people one can believe has true integrity,” said Erb. “Any doubt is enough to say no, this is not ‘innocent until proven guilty.” He said that when he saw Kavanaugh’s “hyper-partisan” and “anger laced” testimony, he strongly opposed the confirmation.

     Senior Aislinn Forbes, a registered Democrat, says that she is not surprised by the outcome. “It’s very clear that this administration doesn’t care whether a woman is telling the truth,” said Forbes. “They just want to win at all costs. Brett Kavanaugh is at the very least an extremely biased alcoholic, and unfit for the Supreme Court…”

   Forbes explained that Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing was not a trial of law, meaning the only “consequence” for him was the chance of not being appointed. “Anyone who claims this would have ‘ruined his life,’ is either willingly ignorant or purposefully trying to deceive you,” said Forbes.

   Maine Senator Susan Collins was one of the 50 senators to vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation. “I listened to her 45 minute speech and could hear in her voice the long hours of thought, discussions, and research she put into her final opinion,” said Michaud. “I think she voted the best way with what she had to work with at the time of the vote.”

   Professor Erb simply stated, “She succumbed to pressure within her party, rather than deciding to the right thing.”

     With the upcoming election on November 6, there is the possibility that the recent events will cause an increase in voter turnout. “I hope it means more people will vote. I hope it will make people realize that we need ranked choice voting and more regulation of how people can run for office and how much they can spend,” said Forbes.  

Jared Golden Holds Town Hall Discussion at UMF

Jared Golden Holds Town Hall Discussion at UMF

By Emily Mokler Editor-in-Chief

Student Aislinn Forbes speaks with Jared Golden. (Photo by John Thayer)

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.

UMF Political Clubs Prepare for Fall Election

By Andrew Devine President

UMF Political clubs such as the College Republicans and College Democrats are preparing events and efforts in anticipation for the November midterm elections.

   While 2016 saw the Farmington campus very active in political efforts, fall of this year will see students involved in Congressional and local elections and campaigns.

   According to Ballotpedia, a nation-wide election information website, in Farmington and Maine, items on the ballot will include: U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Governor, State Senate, State House, and other state executives.

   Patrick Fallon, president and chair of the UMF College Republicans (CRs), discussed the activities of the club this semester in an interview. As of this month, the CRs have had visits from Mary Mayhew and Shawn Moody, gubernatorial candidates, hosted the Field Director for the 2nd Congressional District from the Maine GOP various times, and attended the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. where they saw the President speak.

   The College Democrats also have several upcoming events including an event hosting all four candidates for the 2nd Maine Congressional District on campus to campaign for their nomination and to debate pertinent issues in current political discourse.

   Jeff Willey, President of the College Democrats, wrote in an email interview, “One of my favorite events this year has been Jared Golden visiting our club to discuss his campaign and what he wishes to do should he win the election.” Willey went on to write, “It personally feels as though I am making an important contribution to the future of this country and is stellar being directly involved.” 

  The CRs do not have any definite plans at this time for events in preparation for the election, but anticipate being busy in the fall. Willey stated that the College Democrats plan on doing voting registration drives to get as many young people here at UMF actively involved in the political process. Neither club will endorse any candidates prior to the Primaries leading up to the election. After that point, Fallon stated that the CRs would support any nominees held by the Maine GOP.

   Willey concluded in stating, “I would love our club to be involved in the upcoming elections, and I am certain our members will be, myself included.  However, what I am more focused on is simply informing the University student body about the candidates who they will be choosing between and trying to get as many people involved in the democratic process as we possibly can.”