AUGUSTA — A little more than three decades ago, Tim Marks was an 18-year-old doorkeeper to the Maine Senate who ended up losing his job due to a change in party rule. Now's he's back — as the state representative-elect from Pittston.
Marks, a Democrat, is among the dozens of newly elected, first-time legislators who gathered in the State House on Thursday for orientation. The lawmakers-to-be heard lectures on procedures for filing bills, how committees work, support services and their pay.
"They're excited," said Speaker-to-be Rep. Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, who is beginning his third term. "We have a great caucus with great potential: doctors, farmers, teachers, small business owners." And there's Marks.
After a stint as Senate doorkeeper, Marks himself was ushered out the door when Democrats took over the Senate from Republicans in 1982. He wound up with a job as legislative document clerk, often thinking about how he'd like to be among those elected to serve rather than serving those elected. Marks, who switched to the Democratic Party, finished college and retired after a career as a state trooper.
"So this has been on my bucket list for a very long time," Marks, 52, said before a morning session. "It's awesome ... very cool."
As a kid growing up in Maine's capital, Rep.-elect Matt Pouliot also daydreamed about winning a legislative seat. The freshman Republican representing north Augusta recalled visiting the State House as a 5th grader and eating candy while sitting on the portico.
"I'm going to work in this building someday, I thought," Pouliot recalled.
His fellow Augusta Republican, Rep.-elect Corey Wilson, grew up in Fairfield and had never set foot in the State House until about a year ago when he became interested in running for the House. Now with the election over, he wants to put political partisanship aside and get to work, a sentiment echoed by other new lawmakers as well as their leaders.
"Regardless of whether you're in the minority or majority, it's important to get together and get things done," Wilson said.
Rep.-elect Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, said her only experience in the State House had been shadowing members to see what they do.
"I feel an incredible amount of hope for the next two years," said Gideon, who's served on Freeport town council.
Sen.-elect Colleen Lachowicz, D-Waterville, who prevailed in a high-profile campaign that drew national media attention, is putting the partisanship aside too as she focuses on the six-month session that formally begins Dec. 5 with the swearing-in of new lawmakers. During the campaign, Republicans set up a website criticizing her for playing the online role-playing game World of Warcraft.
"I'm looking forward to getting to work for the people of my district," she said. A social worker for 25 years, Lachowicz said a priority for her will be health care access.
Of the 151 House seats, about 55 will be held by those who have never held legislative office, while 10 others served before the current session. The 35-member Senate includes 17 freshmen, two of whom had held Senate seats in the past and seven who are moving up the hall from the House. The numbers could change because of recounts in some races.
The Senate President-to-be, Portland Democrat Justin Alfond, said that whatever gets done will have to be in partnership with Republican Gov. Paul LePage and the GOP minority. Alfond, who is beginning his third term, said that despite their differences, the two parties have seen eye to eye on a number of issues in the past, such as education, domestic violence and regulatory reform.
"I'm looking forward to sitting gown with the governor so we can find our common interests," Alfond said.