BELFAST, Maine — A Belfast native who was a state champion high school runner now is running for something else: a seat in the Maine House of Representatives.
Erin Herbig, 29, said that if elected to Maine House District 43 in Belfast, Belmont and Northport, she would fight for small business and work hard to support the state’s young people — with a particular goal of getting the next generation to stay in Maine.
She’s campaigning as a moderate Democrat, but said that after growing up as the only Democrat in her family, she has a lot of respect for other viewpoints.
“I’m a good Democrat. But I’m also a very, very good listener,” Herbig said. “What’s nice at the state level is that it doesn’t just come down to parties. I feel I have a lot to offer people in the middle.”
Herbig has family roots that stretch deep into Waldo County. One grandfather was a chicken farmer and the other ran the Herbig Shell Station in downtown Belfast.
After graduating from Boston College, she lived for a while in Los Angeles, but missed Belfast.
“Living away made me realize what an amazing community we have here,” she said.
She returned in 2004 and began working at Moss Inc. as a graphic artist. But she joined a growing segment of the American work force when she was laid off in August 2009.
“I understand that struggle,” Herbig said. “That was definitely pretty scary.”
Herbig, who is married to native Mainer Josh Povec, landed on her feet when she found work as a community organizer for the national nonprofit Change That Works.
She worked on bringing national issues to the local level, advocating for effective health care reform that would benefit small businesses over the last year, and also worked directly with the offices of Republican U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.
After Change That Works closed at the end of March, Herbig was hired to do community outreach for Belfast-based Maine Farmland Trust, a statewide land trust that focuses on preserving farmland. The nonprofit’s executive director is Rep. John Piotti, D-Unity, who just finished serving his first term as House majority leader.
“I’m really excited about it,” Herbig said. “This is community organizing at the local level.”
Helping her community has been a longtime passion for her, as has running. Herbig is a coach for the Belfast Area High School track team and makes a point to run the workouts alongside the students. It’s leading by example, she said, and it’s something that she wants to do at the state level.
“I do have all this energy and enthusiasm,” Herbig said. “I want to put it where it really matters and give back to the community.”