AUBURN — U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe was honored with a day of her own in her childhood hometown Wednesday, and Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonte said he’d like to see the city host a permanent tribute.
“Something I am committed to is finding a more lasting way to recognize not only the accomplishments of Sen. Snowe, but also her life story,” LaBonte said. “It truly is an inspiration for women, for immigrants and for young people in this community.”
LaBonte, Auburn city staff and local dignitaries were on hand Wednesday morning as LaBonte declared it Olympia J. Snowe Day throughout the city.
Snowe, who was in Washington, D.C., for one last day in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, was represented by her regional representative, Diane Jackson, who has worked for Snowe the past 10 years
“I get the privilege of representing her at this, my final public event for her,” Jackson said.
Snowe announced her intention to retire from the Senate a year ago. She will be replaced by Sen.-elect Angus King, an independent.
For Chip Morrison, president of the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce and a former Auburn city manager, Snowe set the mold for Maine’s elected officials.
“It’s part of the way that our politicians, in Maine, are part of Maine,” Morrison said. “We all look at them as our friends and neighbors. It’s true, not just for Sen. Snowe, but our politicians are known by their first names. They like that, and they represent us well with their independence and hard work.”
Snowe grew up in Auburn and attended Edward Little High School. She began her public service career in 1973 when she took over her late husband’s seat in the Maine House of Representatives. Auburn voters re-elected her in 1974 and she was elected to the state Senate in 1976. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978 and to the U.S. Senate in 1994. She served three six-year terms in the Senate.
LaBonte told the group he’d like to see a more permanent honor for Snowe in Auburn, but he wasn’t sure what that would entail.
“There certainly is a story of her life and her approach to public service that I don’t want to see forgotten,” LaBonte said. “She’s been in D.C. and she is now and I have not had a chance to connect with her. But we will. When we give her the formal proclamation, we can talk with her about it. If ideas emerge, we can talk about it with the (City) Council.”