When my mom was twelve, she got her first horse, Penny, and began to ride from her house in Thomaston, all the way to Wottons Mill Road in Union. To say that she knows the towns of Hope, Union and Warren is an understatement: she went from exploring them on horseback in the 1960’s and 70’s, to knocking on every door in the district this year while running for office. Growing up with limited resources made my mom realize that she was in charge of her own life at an early age: as the oldest of five children and the only girl, my mom got her first job at the age of 8, raking blueberries. She worked at my great-great-grandmother’s restaurant in Thomaston, known as Ifemy’s Diner, at the age of 10, and the local sardine factory in Rockland. She also worked hard in school, landing herself a full four-year Martin Marietta scholarship. While at Oral Roberts University, she was a competitive runner and she studied French, a language she didn’t grow up speaking at all. She learned to speak it so well she could be mistaken for a native when she later lived outside of Geneva, Switzerland with my dad.

The varied experience of small town living and exploring many countries, spanning five continents, has given my mom a healthy dose of perspective, humility, and an open mind. It also allowed for plenty of rich, multicultural experiences in my own childhood. Growing up in the beautiful, and somewhat isolated, town of Cushing, my mom made sure to bring the world right into our house when my brother and I were young. She was the French teacher at the Rockland High School for many years, which meant I got to accompany her on class trips to Canada and Europe. It also meant that she and my dad spoke only French with us at home until we were in high school. We had people from Germany, Moldova, Japan and Switzerland live at our house, some for a year at a time.

Although she has strong convictions and a clear vision, my mother is not rigid in her mindset. This creates space for healthy and productive conversations with people, regardless of whether or not they share similar beliefs. That, in my opinion, is of paramount importance in these times. She is not one to shut someone out simply because they have a different perspective. Instead, she responds with curiosity and a willingness to listen. Rather than requiring agreement as the end goal in a conversation, she prioritizes connection. Personally, I can’t think of a more important trait in a potential leader in our community.

Valerie Robinson