Candidates Mills, Kusiak attend Foss lunch to talk politics

By Dominic Giardini

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Janet Mills, during her visit to Colby Tuesday, Oct. 23, took a brief lunch break at Foss Dining Hall to talk with a collection of Colby Democrats and interested students. Karen Kusiak, candidate for Maine State Senate and former education professor at Colby, joined Mills for the lunch. Both women are former Colby students.

Mills and Kusiak walked around Foss without any accompanying fanfare, despite election day quickly approaching on November 6. Their appearance in the dining hall was met with nonchalance by students, many of whom likely were unaware that the candidates were present.

That became a casual, impromptu Q&A, in which Mills answered students’ inquiries regarding her platform, political history, and past at Colby. She recalled her experience here, and described how the College had restrictive policies implemented for women while awarding men freedom via Colby’s dominant presence of fraternities.

In describing the culture, she mentioned facing some minor punishment for choosing to disregard curfew rules. Considering her feminist sentiment throughout the gubernatorial race, her story and eventual decision to move on from Colby does not seem out of character.

Mills was particularly engaged in learning about her lunchmates, asking about students’ majors and life in the downtown apartments, as well as praising those who mentioned that they had already turned in an absentee ballot.

Mills explained that she sought to promote voter participation for this election with her appearance at Colby. She claimed that students have a right as residents to vote in Maine, despite efforts by some in the City of Waterville to deter turnout, as well as concerns from permanent residents that student voters do not adequately support what is best for Maine.

The Waterville City Clerk’s office has sent mail notices to Colby students with an excerpt from the Secretary of State’s office “Voting Residency Fact Sheet,” which state: “if you drive a car in Maine, you are required to obtain a Maine driver’s license within 30 days of establishing residency here. Driving without a Maine license more than 90 days after you have established residency in the state is a crime under Maine law. ” Mills responded to concerns by reassuring that such action is not actually required from Colby students.

In response to a question by the Echo regarding how she feels with Election Day approaching, she responded immediately with “excitement.” The prospect of being Maine’s first female governor, paired with upcoming redistricting responsibilities, has Mills eagerly helping to win.

Lunch was adjourned promptly by Mills’ staffer prior to 1 p.m. so that she could observe the Government department in action. Mills expressed particular excitement to attend one of Sandy Maisel’s classes, noting his 48-year tenure at Colby.

With the governor’s race culminating on Nov. 6, Mills has a solid lead, being eight points ahead of her opponent, according to a recent poll by realclearpolitics.com and nine points ahead as per a recent poll from fivethirtyeight.com.