AUGUSTA — After more than two decades working in law enforcement, Scott Cyrway says he thinks he can handle just about anything — even the Maine Legislature.

“I’ve had people come at me with pickup trucks; I’ve had guns pointed at me,” said Cyrway, a retired Kennebec County sheriff’s deputy who will be sworn into the Maine Senate on Wednesday. “I think I have big enough shoulders to handle any kind of situation.”

The 59-year-old Republican from Benton is among dozens of people poised to become state lawmakers for the first time. Weeks after their elections to the state House and Senate, many are rushing trying to learn the legislative rules and procedures before their work begins in earnest in January.

Of the 151 members in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives who will be sworn in, more than 50 have never served in the Legislature. Meanwhile, five in the Republican controlled Senate will be new to the Statehouse.

Among the members of the 127th Legislature’s freshman class are a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who spent time in Afghanistan and Iraq, a 22-year-old recent college graduate, a retired public school teacher and a retired member of the Air Force and Maine Air National Guard.

Some have had their sights set on politics for some time, while others hadn’t given it much thought until they were encouraged to run for office by a member of their community.

Cyrway, who defeated incumbent Democrat Colleen Lachowicz earlier this month, said he was approached by a former student from one of his DARE classes about joining the Senate.

“I really respected the young lad and I said, ‘Well, you know, if he really feels like I should run, I feel that I should do it.”‘

After the Legislature is sworn in, lawmakers will spend the rest of the month filing bills, learning their committee assignments and getting settled in Augusta.

The chambers will also confirm the Speaker of the House and Senate President and choose their constitutional officers: the attorney general, secretary of state and state treasurer.

The real work won’t begin until January, when Republican Gov. Paul LePage is expected to introduce his proposed budget.

Some political newcomers, like Christine Burstein, D-Lincolnville, were inspired to run for office in the hopes of taking action on a certain issue.

In her case, it was the Legislature’s failure to pass Medicaid expansion over LePage’s vetoes that encouraged her to seek a spot in the House. Each time the bill was vetoed, it failed to receive the two-thirds support it needed to survive by just a few votes.

“That could have been my vote, and that means we maybe could’ve gotten 70,000 Mainers covered for insurance,” said Burstein, a 57-year-old nurse practitioner.

With LePage still in the Blaine House and Republicans having taken control of the Senate, she acknowledges that the odds of passing the bill this upcoming session are slim to none. But she’s hopeful that the two parties can work together to come up with a way to help those who remain uninsured.

“When I get old and I’m that old lady sitting on her couch, I want to say, ‘You know what, I did what I could and at least I tried,”‘ she said.

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