HARPSWELL — For the first time in more than 30 years, the town’s state representative is not a member of the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources.
Selectman Kevin Johnson said the decision breaks with a long tradition in Harpswell, where marine industry and resources are vital to the town’s economy.
“I was shocked,” he said Jan. 6. “We have the longest shoreline in the state of Maine, not to mention Brunswick,” which has over 60 miles of coastline.
Rep. Jay McCreight, D-Harpswell, was re-elected in November to a second term in House District 51 , which encompasses the coastal communities of Harpswell, East Brunswick and West Bath.
McCreight served on the committee during her first term, following a tradition that goes as far back as former Rep. Reed Coles, D-Harpswell, who was elected in 1985.
Legislators can request committees that are relevant to their districts and interests, McCreight said Jan. 5, and she asked for re-appointments to the two committees where she previously served: the Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources and the Judiciary Committee.
Committee appointments are made by Speaker of the House Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, who ultimately assigned McCreight to Judiciary and the Joint Standing Committee on Taxation.
McCreight said Jan. 5 that she wasn’t sure why she was appointed to taxation instead of marine resources.
Gideon did not respond to phone and email requests for comment.
“The point I’d like to make is that it’s a balancing act that leadership has to do,” MrCreight said, acknowledging the difficulty in making committee appointments. “And I want people to know that I wanted Marine Resources.”
Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources are Chairwoman Sen. Joyce A. Maker, R-Calais; Chairman Rep. Walter A. Kumiega III, D-Deer Isle; Sen. Eric L. Brakey, R-Auburn; Sen. Eloise A. Vitelli, D-Arrowsic; Rep. Michael G. Devin, D-Newcastle; Rep. Robert W. Alley, Sr., D-Beals; Rep. Lydia C. Blume, D-York; Rep. Stephanie Hawke, R-Boothbay Harbor; Rep. William R. Tuell, R-East Machias; Rep. David G. Haggan, R-Hampden; Rep. Abden S. Simmons, R-Waldoboro; Rep. Paula G. Sutton, R-Warren; and Rep. Kevin J. Battle, an independent from South Portland.
McCreight said she has assured elected officials in Harpswell that she will continue to closely follow topics related to marine resources, and plans to submit at least five pieces of legislation involving the clamming industry and rockweed harvesting.
Harpswell is also represented by state Sen. Everett “Brownie” Carson, D-Harpswell, who was appointed to the Joint Standing Committee on Insurance and Financial Services.