Sen. Kim Rosen of Bucksport is looking forward to a second term in the Maine Senate. She is unopposed on the ballot in November. A Republican, Rosen served four terms in the House of Representatives, took a term off, and then ran successfully for the Senate in 2014.
An elected official whose goal is “to help as many people as I can,” Rosen is an outgoing person who relishes face-to-face contact with her constituents. “When someone calls me with a problem, I like to say ‘Hold on. I’ll be right there,’” and she is off to take a firsthand look at whatever has the caller up in arms.
Her greatest satisfaction lies in finding a solution to a constituent problem that may be of little importance to the state overall but is of vital concern to the individual it affects. Given her lengthy service on the Transportation Committee, she often is called upon to intervene with matters such as paving problems, roadside trees or bike lanes. “I can’t always get the answer my constituent wants,” she said, “but I can get them an answer.”
She enhances her availability by being out in public on a daily basis. At the post office, the grocery store, her favorite lunch spot or dropping in at a local business, she urges her constituents to approach her without hesitation. When she is not in Augusta, she spends most of her time within the bounds of her Senate district.
With just 35 seats, the Senate is less than one-fourth the size of the House, and Rosen finds many advantages in the smaller chamber. She says the House caucus could feel overwhelming with so many members, including some inclined to take over the proceedings.
The Senate caucus is much smaller, and all members have a voice. With Republicans holding the majority in the Senate, most members chair a policy committee. This term, Rosen has chaired the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. She also has served on the Transportation Committee.
She particularly likes her caucus’ practice of going through the daily calendar before each session, preparing everyone for what the day will bring. Also, all bills are presented in caucus by the sponsor or by the relevant committee chair. “People listen,” she said, “and then we discuss each one.” It is an opportunity to be familiar with every bill on the docket.
Senate districts are a good deal larger than House districts in both size and population. The increased number of constituents does not trouble Rosen at all, but she finds herself spending more time on the road to get from one end of her district to the other. Spread over 20 towns, townships and unorganized territories in Hancock and Penobscot Counties, it is close to 100 miles end to end.
Her hometown of Bucksport is close to the southern end of Senate District 8, and the town of Lincoln is at the northern limit of her territory. “Lincoln was new to me,” she said, “but it’s a town I’ve grown to love.” She makes the drive on a regular basis.
Rosen likes the lawmaking process, but she does not initiate much legislation. She will submit a bill only if she can defend it in her caucus. She also likes the challenge of improving on existing law. Most of her bills arise from the personal stories of those she represents, including a “Grandparents’ Rights” bill she is working on now.
She predicts the coming legislative session will focus on energy issues, including gas, hydro and solar. She sees the failure of last term’s solar energy proposal as a problem of timing and thinks it will fare better next time around, as she sees widespread support for the solar industry in Augusta.
She also anticipates substantial work on Maine’s drug problem that will address prevention and treatment of addiction and illegal drug use, and associated law enforcement efforts.
Though unopposed, she is not ignoring campaign season. A “Clean Elections” candidate, she was required to relinquish most of her state funding once the deadline for an opposition candidate had passed. She is going door to door and attending events all over her district. It is something she would do anyway, election season or not.
In addition to her legislative duties, Rosen served as chair of the board of Women in Government, a national, bipartisan organization of women legislators. During her term of office, the organization initiated a diabetes awareness campaign and a policy resource center to further the goals of the program.
She also became an advocate for early diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer, another priority of Women in Government. Her goal: “Complete eradication of cervical cancer in Maine.” She continues to serve the organization as one of Maine’s four state directors.
Rosen is a politician whose warmth and openness comes naturally. She is a good listener, genuinely interested in what her constituents have to say. That, and a willingness to lend a hand when and where it’s needed, have put her in office for 10 years – and counting.