First-time candidate Milliken lived through the challenges of her riding
Nina Milliken, a Democrat from Blue Hill running for House District 16, is quick to admit that she “could be crazy.” She has three young children, one of whom is a toddler. It was a conversation with former Representative Genevieve McDonald, mother of twins when she was first elected, that convinced Milliken to take the plunge.
Although she may be a first-time candidate, there is much in her background that prepared her for the Legislative Assembly if elected. She has lived through the challenges she describes as the most pressing in her region: childcare, affordable housing and the growing impact of rental properties on year-round housing opportunities, especially for coastal communities. .
Since the pandemic, she says, more and more people have moved to the area with the intention of staying there year-round. This has a positive impact in many ways, but also requires adjustment on the part of the inhabitants. Milliken herself has lived in Blue Hill year-round for about a decade, but has had family ties and a personal history there for much longer. The village of Blue Hill looks like it did 40 years ago, but with a lot more cars.
Milliken and his Republican challenger, Steve Hanrahan, are aware of the distinctions made between “locals” and “people from afar”. It’s less clear than before, but it’s still there. Milliken believes that community building is essential to solving social problems.
Milliken doesn’t just think about these community issues in the abstract. She has data, lots of data, and can easily talk about it when discussing the aging population, education challenges, and other issues that matter to people in Castine, Sedgwick, Brooksville, Blue Hill, Surry and Trenton.
Trenton was one of the few disputed changes in last year’s redistricting process. Maine law requires electoral districts to be contiguous, which Trenton is, says Milliken, “if you take the water out.” By land, one must pass through Ellsworth to reach the easternmost town in District 16.
Milliken has a good track record for legislative service. Sitting on her screened porch, a sleeping baby and older children in the care of a nearby teenager, Milliken’s peaceful surroundings and ready smile alternate with flashes of deep determination and determination. She describes her work with Healthy Acadia and the George Stevens Academy to secure a supply of Narcan to manage drug overdoses, citing 300 doses obtained and 68 people trained in its use. She would like to see it readily available throughout the community for rapid response to an overdose crisis.
Milliken says public education “is my thing.” She holds a teaching certificate from the College of the Atlantic and works part-time at Blue Hill Harbor School. She was elected to the Blue Hill School Board in 2021. She describes herself as “stubborn but compassionate”. She particularly enjoys working with teenagers.
She was a community educator and victims’ rights advocate with Downeast Sexual Assault Services, a position in which she coordinated services between her agency and schools in Washington and Hancock counties. She already has her eye on opportunities in the Legislative Assembly to support young people, strengthen social infrastructure and expand childcare opportunities.
Her interest in mental health issues aims to make it easier for people to navigate the care network, cope and find more treatment opportunities for addictions. She also wants to see improvements in the community’s response to mental health crises and believes that statewide, more treatment capacity needs to be developed. She believes that connecting people to the right services is essential for thriving communities.
She considers herself “socially connected” in most communities in District 16, but is stepping out and about to meet more voters. She periodically hosts “Coffee with the Candidate” (reviews are on her Facebook page) and is happy to meet people all over the district to talk about anything that voters care about.
Milliken and her family are active outdoors people who enjoy hiking and camping. She introduced her children to volunteering on the conserved lands in the area from an early age. She was a cook at a local restaurant.
Her experience has given her insight into Maine from a variety of perspectives and developed her networking skills throughout coastal Hancock County and beyond, a key advantage for a legislator. There will be opportunities to see the two District 16 candidates in multiple forums, including in a League of Women Voters Zoom chat in mid-October. Check the LWV website for more details.
It will be an interesting competition. The candidates have clear philosophical differences but share similar beliefs about life in rural Maine and the role a legislator should play in rural communities. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Get out and vote.
Jill Goldthwait worked for 25 years as a registered nurse at Mount Desert Island Hospital. She served as a Bar Harbor alderman and independent senator for Hancock County.