Despite the tactics, tantrums, nuisance and noise of campaigns, I still love heading to the polls on Election Day and casting my ballot.

I love that voters get the final word and am truly inspired by the commitment to service and community shared by so many seeking elected office across our state.

Not convinced? Consider the tale of two Matts and have your faith restored.

Unknown to each other until approached about this column, Matt Pouliot of Augusta and Mattie Daughtry of Brunswick are 25-year-old first-time candidates seeking a spot in the 126th Legislature. While they come from different parties and parts of Maine, there is a lot more that unites them than their age and names.

Matt Pouliot is a Republican running in House District 57, which includes north and west Augusta.

He is a lifelong resident from a respected local family. He owns a real estate management business and has contributed his energy and ideas to a number of civic organizations and municipal boards.

Pouliot strives to live a purpose-driven life, talks of great pride in his hometown and wants to be a new voice for Augusta. He is a pragmatic problem-solver who will side with good ideas rather than partisan interests.

He has knocked on 2,500 doors and spoken with about 1,000 voters on front porches across his district, devoting five or more hours a day to his campaign.

And it is paying off.

Last week he knocked on the door of a Democrat getting ready to cast an absentee ballot for his opponent. After a conversation of nearly an hour, Pouliot had banked another vote.

Mattie Daughtry is a Democrat running in Brunswick’s House District 66.

Like the Matt to the north, she has lifelong ties to her community and wants to give back through public service. Daughtry is a strong supporter of local education and wants to ensure a sustainable future for Brunswick and for Maine.

Daughtry has spent the last few years working for a public advocacy campaign committed to transparency and ensuring that our elected officials represent the interest of everyone.

As part of this work, she claims to have read every bill introduced at the State House over the last two years.

And I believe her.

I also believe Daughtry when she talks about her commitment to restoring civility and collaboration in government.

This fall she has worked with her Republican and Green party opponents to organize three cordial and informative issue-based candidate forums.

To this observer, it would appear the people of Brunswick are getting the type of campaign and choice they deserve. It is no accident.

Pouliot and Daughtry are replacement candidates, chosen at party caucuses this summer to step in after others had encountered legal difficulties.

In both cases, they represent a clean and refreshing new start.

Would-be representatives Pouliot and Daughtry are running extremely energetic and sophisticated campaigns. Together they have knocked on 5,000 doors and are using technology to track their progress.

Pouliot uses an application called Mobile Voter on his tablet that includes the location of every one of his 350 well maintained, private property-placed campaign signs, every voter connection he has made, snippets of those conversations and the identities of supporters he needs to turn out on Election Day.

Daughtry uses a similar system known as the Voter Activation Network that is helping her track and engage voters. A dog lover, Daughtry knows the names of most of the dogs across her district.

No one ever lost a political campaign by caring too much about the welfare of the electorate’s kids and dogs.

Both candidates have earned high-powered endorsements. Former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell has endorsed Daughtry and Sen. Olympia Snowe is featured in a radio spot asking Augusta voters to send Pouliot to the State House.

Pouliot is running one of the best legislative political spots I have ever heard.

In her authentic Franco accent, Memere Pouliot urges her neighbors and the customers of her 30-year-old local business to vote for her grandson on Election Day. In a district where Franco voters dominate many neighborhoods, the heartfelt exchange between Pouliot and his memere is pure political gold.

Pouliot and Daughtry also are connected by their concerns about the economic realities facing young adults in Maine. Too many of their friends have been forced to leave Maine and they want to change that.

Every candidate devoting their time, energy and ideas to a campaign for public office are, win or lose, providing a great public service. Without necessarily serving a day in elected office, they guarantee a choice, ensure accountability and help frame the political debate.

And for that, every candidate with the courage and commitment to run deserves our sincere appreciation.

Matt and Mattie will be at the polls shaking hands on Election Day. Be sure to give them and any other candidate you encounter your thanks even if you cannot give them your vote.

Dan Demeritt is a Republican political consultant and public relations specialist. He is a former campaign aide and communications director for Gov. Paul LePage.




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