Q&A with Sara Gideon: “Every time you are afraid of something, acknowledge and accept that feeling and then dive in to tackle the problem that needs your help.”
Off the Sidelines: Tell us about yourself. Why did you decide to get off the sidelines and run for office?
Sara Gideon: Years ago, when my three kids were all under the age of five, I came home to a message someone had left for my husband, Ben on our answering machine asking if he would consider running for our local town council seat. When I heard that message I thought — actually — I think that’s the right job for me and a place where I can really make a difference. So I ran for that office, and I won.
While I was serving on my town council, I was also volunteering in schools in my community helping to serve free breakfast. I quickly noticed that the same students were coming every day, and they were coming not because they had left the house too quickly and forgotten to eat, but often because there was no food at home. I knew then that I wanted to do everything I could to tackle the problem at its root, so I decided to run for state legislature.
Throughout my life, I’ve always believed that the sole purpose of public service is to improve the lives of the people around us. From the Freeport Town Council to serving as Speaker of the State House, I’ve kept that sense of purpose close to my heart — consistently and passionately asking myself how we make progress. And I’ve learned along the way that if you’re willing to work with others, it’s still possible to get things done. We need more of that in Washington, and that’s why I’m now running for US Senate.
OTS: Tell us about where you’re running/what your state/district is like?
SG: Maine is the best place in the country to live and to raise our family. And it’s because of our people and our approach to life. No fuss — no frills — just the stuff that really counts. The beauty around us. Our connection to our mountains and lakes and ocean and farmland. Mainers are hardworking, resourceful and resilient, too, but also deeply dedicated to each other and to taking care of one another. There is a certain strength of character that defines us and I’m grateful that from my work as Speaker and my time on the campaign trail, I’ve gotten to connect with so many Mainers. This place is home — with everything that word means — and I’m deeply grateful that my own children get to grow up loving and learning from everything this state and our communities have to offer.
OTS: Whose support or encouragement are you most grateful for?
SG: My mother and father set such a strong example of how to balance work and family and how to devote yourself to bettering the world around you, so I truly value their support and encouragement. My father immigrated to the United States when he was a young man, and my mother is the daughter of immigrants. Their commitment to their parents, children, and each other has set such an example for me throughout my life. And of course, I couldn’t do this without my husband and my three incredible children.
OTS: What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?
SG: Every time you are afraid of something, acknowledge and accept that feeling and then dive in to tackle the problem that needs your help.
OTS: What issue do you believe deserves more attention on the campaign trail?
SG: Everywhere I go in Maine, people tell me about the challenges they face in accessing affordable health care and the rising cost of prescription drugs. It’s an issue that impacts people across our state, regardless of their wealth or profession. The price of both fundamental health care and life-saving prescription drugs has skyrocketed over recent years, and nothing is being done in Washington to stop it. Affordable and quality health care is a basic human right, and I’m committed to expanding access for everyone — including people with pre-existing conditions — and cracking down on big drug companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
OTS: What’s an interesting book/article you’re reading now or you’ve recently finished? And why?
SG: Where the Crawdads Sing, a beautifully written story of the indomitable power of the human spirit told through the voice of a young child left with no one to care for her. It was both unbearably sad and somehow powerfully uplifting, too.
OTS: If you could have dinner with three people (living or deceased) who would they be and why?
SG: I would have dinner with my maternal grandmother, left behind during the Armenian genocide; my paternal grandmother who died giving birth to my father’s youngest brother in India in the late 1930s; and Mahatma Gandhi, to understand his patience and vision.
OTS: How do you de-stress/unwind?
SG: I love to get outside with my three kids, Julian, Alek and Josie, and my husband, Ben. No matter the weather, we find a way to be active together. It is especially important during a Maine winter. In the summer and winter you will find us hiking, swimming, kayaking and skiing, downhill and cross country. During this pandemic, we’ve been hiking more together. And believe me, I was particularly grateful when we finally started to find some hikes without snow on the trails.