A visit by Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, to the 37th annual Maine Fishermen’s Forum in Rockport on March 3 was canceled when rain, fog and icy conditions prevented her from flying into Knox County Regional Airport. Snowe, the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, announced Feb. 28 that she would not seek re-election in November.

In a statement released March 2 and widely disseminated in both the U.S. and international press, Snowe said “the greatest deliberative body in history is not living up to its billing. The Senate … habitually eschews full debate and an open amendment process in favor of competing, up-or-down, take-it-or-leave-it proposals.”

In spite of that concern, she said, public service is an honorable pursuit.

Snowe cited “dysfunction and political polarization in the institution. “Simply put, the Senate is not living up to what the Founding Fathers envisioned,” she said.

The annual Fishermen’s Forum, held each March at the Samoset Resort in Rockport, offers an opportunity for fishermen, scientists and fisheries regulators, from the U.S., Canada and around the globe, to meet in both formal sessions and informal events, such as the annual scholarship auction and dinner dance. At these events, partnerships are forged and reinforced between divergent constituencies and disciplines.

In her March 2 statement, Snowe said of Congress, “The great challenge is to create a system that gives our elected officials reasons to look past their differences and find common ground if their initial party positions fail to garner sufficient support. In a politically diverse nation, only by finding that common ground can we achieve results for the common good. That is not happening today and, frankly, I do not see it happening in the near future.

“For change to occur, our leaders must understand that there is not only strength in compromise, courage in conciliation and honor in consensus-building — but also a political reward for following these tenets. That reward will be real only if the people demonstrate their desire for politicians to come together after the planks in their respective party platforms do not prevail.”

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