I am writing in response to a photograph published Feb. 26 of members of the Maine College Republicans holding a rally Feb. 17 as part of their Youth Leadership School.

I was surprised to see the photo of a dozen young people holding up paper signs, many of which were simply name-calling the Democratic Party. It is unfortunate that this attempt to disparage an opposing political party is now captured as the public representation of that organization.

As I serve my third term in the Maine Legislature, I am disappointed to see energy focused on partisan games. Instead of name-calling to promote old stereotypes, members of that organization, as well as other interested Mainers, could learn more about the Legislature’s committee process. By observing the bipartisan Appropriations Committee, people could gain understanding of the political process as members work through budget negotiations to find an acceptable balance between revenues raised and services provided.

I strongly agree that involving the next generation of Maine leaders is an important process. Future leaders should visit www.maine.gov for the schedule for committee meetings and either attend or listen to the Internet webcast.

Carrying disparaging signs in a mock protest makes for an exciting picture in the newspaper, but let’s instead work to develop the sort of leaders Maine really needs. I believe that we build leadership by teaching skills in information gathering, active listening and problem-solving, regardless of party affiliation.

Rep. Nancy Smith, D-Monmouth

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