Rockland Town Council; Candidate for Maine State House Representative, District 47
Hi! I’m Elizabeth Dickerson, and I’m the Democratic candidate for representative to the Maine State House, District 47, Rockland, Maine, and part of Owl’s Head, Maine.
I’m in my second term on the Rockland City Council. First elected in 2008, I ran for re-election in 2011, unopposed, and was returned to my desk. The Rockland City Council is comprised of five members, who are elected at large.
In 2009, I was appointed by Mayor Deborah McNeil to serve on the Knox County Budget Committee. I was appointed in 2008 to serve on the Maine Department of Transportation Gateway One Response Panel.
I graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music. I’m a classically trained flutist and a folk-rock guitarist/singer songwriter. It took me almost 25 years, but I graduated. I left college in my final year, when the family came along, like so many parents I know today who are working through the excellent University of Maine system’s offerings for those of us who need to work through college while raising a family.
Once my daughter was born- 23 years ago!- I just kept following my interests and passions. I worked at the Good Tern Food Co-Op for nine years, because I believe in the benefits of organic farming, healthy eating, and community-owned business. I started taking some classes, and working towards finishing my bachelor’s degree. I became interested in digital audio recording, and as a result started taking apart computers and customizing them. This led to an Associate’s Degree in Computer Science from Kennebec Valley Community College- an excellent school, which has so many technical and immediately practical offerings at an affordable price. I strongly support increasing our community college offerings in this state, because practical, affordable, hands-on education is a perfect fit for many people.
After I finished at KVCC, I worked for a while teaching guitar lessons, delivering newspapers, fixing computers, and then I started my own web design business, Purple Planet Design. I also ran a gardening business in the summer called Artemisia Landscape Gardening. By now, we had my son on board, too- born 13 years ago. A friend of mine recommended that I check out working as an Educational Technician, because I was so interested in education, and I was hired by Medomak Valley High School. Soon afterward, I began formally pursuing certification as a teacher.
After Medomak, I worked in the Hope-Appleton schools as a computer technician, and now I am a teacher of web design and computer programming at Oceanside High School East. I am also the assistant librarian at Gilford-Butler Elementary School.
I live on Blackington’s Corners, which is adjacent to the site of the former Tolman Mill. This corner of Rockland was settled before the downtown area, because farmers spread out from Thomaston, due the excellent soils in this little valley. In fact, this valley was once called the breadbasket of Knox County.
Like so many Mainers, my family and I have picked away at what we could do to fix up this old farmhouse as we live in it. Our housing stock here in Rockland is old and drafty, and it’s very hard for people these days to find the financing at a decent enough interest rate to complete essential energy upgrades and retrofits. That’s why it was so important to me to sponsor the PACE program last year: I wanted the people who live here to be able to make upgrades to their homes so that their precious wood and oil dollars weren’t going up the chimney. I had no idea that Rockland would lead the way and become the first town to implement a PACE project. We’ve also completed the most PACE projects in the state, from insulating people’s houses to getting solar panels on people’s roofs.
PACE is a program run by Efficiency Maine to help make needed energy saving retrofits and upgrades, and save on your fuel bill. Loans up to 10,000 are available at a modest interest rate.
I’m dedicated to working for those who don’t always have a voice at the table, and working ceaselessly to bring us together as a community so that all voices can be heard. I enjoy being able to get things done to make life just a little bit better.
I believe in spending money wisely in order to maximize efficiency, particularly when it comes to energy use. I believe that the purpose of government is to ensure the good of all, to the best possible outcome, and to be the guardian of justice and equal rights for all.
I want to see Maine lead the way on education: a state that employs a cutting-edge educational system comprised of experience-based learning, true inquiry from students, hands-on application, and fluency with new technology. Job one on that punch list is to address early childhood education and the deficit in literacy that is all too prevalent in our state. Our children are our future, and there can be no child in this state that does not have adequate food, shelter, and an education, no matter what that child’s circumstances.
I’m committed to extending the work I have done in the municipality in energy efficiency. The University of Maine is in the vanguard of green energy research, and Maine is full of small entrepreneurial energy businesses working toward an energy solution. We need people driving the policy that keeps sustainable energy policy moving forward.
Rockland’s economic engine has turned to the tourism industry, and as such, it’s essential to protect our natural environment and our built environment so that people still want to come here. It’s also important to remember that our lobstering and fishing industry is both a major draw that brings visitors, and also an industry that needs to be protected, so that escalating property taxes do not cause fishing families to be unable to use the waterfront. That’s why it’s important to support initiatives that protect valuable land for uses that are in the common interest, and also in the interest of protecting the livelihoods of those who depend on the land.
I’ve been involved in the renaissance of Rockland, as a result of my advocacy of local business, and my involvement as a councilor with Rockland Main Street Inc. Supporting locally owned business and local economic development, and growth that keeps our community ours, is essential to who I am. I’m an entrepreneurial person, and my community is made up of a large percentage of people who either own their business or work as freelancers in the creative economy, or who have a business idea that they want to pursue. I feel that it is essential for the state to recognize this unique quality about Maine’s people: the “Yankee Ingenuity” factor: and we have to work to make the business climate in our state conducive to growing that kind of grassroots economy, as well as supporting larger employers who bring jobs, such as Fisher Engineering here in town, or FMC, or Pen Bay Medical, or Boston Financial. We’ve got to work for that diversity in our economy, and continue to work for creative economies that work to put money directly into our community and our people’s pockets.
I look forward to seeing you at the doors this summer, and do call or email if you have something you want to discuss. I’m always available for a get-together or coffee!