BANGOR, Maine — One of the most successful coaches in Maine schoolboy basketball history is entering a new competitive venue — the political arena.
Roger Reed of Carmel, who has led Bangor High School to eight Class A state championships, said Monday he is a candidate for the Maine House of Representatives District 23 seat that serves Carmel, Etna, Hermon and Stetson.
The Republican, who plans to retire from a 47-year teaching career in June, will seek the House seat being vacated after next year by four-term Rep. David E. Richardson of Hermon. Richardson, also a Republican, is being term-limited out of office.
“It’s something very worthwhile to do, trying to make good decisions on behalf of people and trying to make good use of the taxpayers’ money,” said the 72-year-old Reed. “It’s like what I’ve tried to do in education — helping people — and in this way I can go out and try to remedy some of the problems that exist, or at least have input in trying to make things a little better.”
Reed has compiled a career high school basketball coaching record of 557-195 at Bangor Christian and Bangor, including a 443-97 mark since becoming Bangor’s head coach at the outset of the 1985-86 season.
Bangor finished with a 7-11 record during Reed’s first year with the Rams, but since then has had 25 consecutive winning seasons. During a 12-year span from 1992 through 2003, Reed guided the Rams to seven eastern Maine titles and six state championships, a record unmatched by any other Maine Class A basketball coach. Since then he has led Bangor to additional state titles in 2007 and 2011, as well as another berth in the state championship game in 2008.
Reed, who was also a 2006 inductee into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame, has no plans to retire from coaching. If elected he could become the second varsity coach on the Bangor High School staff in the Legislature. Rams’ cross country coach Adam Goode, a Democrat, currently represents District 15 in Bangor.
“They’ve asked me if I’d stay and coach, so that’s something I’m going to continue to try and do,” Reed said. “If it gets to a point where it’s not feasible I’ll have to do something about it, but everybody down there tells me it is something I can do.”
Reed said he was urged to run for the Legislature by many people including current state Reps. Andre Cushing, R-Hampden and Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, and Sawin Millett, a lifelong friend and former high school teammate of Reed’s who now serves as commissioner of the state Department of Administrative and Financial Services.
“He’s been very encouraging to me,” said Reed of Millett. “It’s amazing how many people have encouraged me to run.”
A 1958 graduate of Carmel High School who went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine at Farmington and his master’s from the University of Southern Maine, Reed began his teaching career in 1965 at the Downeast School in Bangor.
He went on to teach and coach at Bangor Christian, then moved on to Bangor High in 1985 where he has been a fixture in the school’s history department as well as on the Rams’ bench.
“History, civics, the legislature, local government, state government and national government is what I’ve taught,” said Reed, “Hopefully this will give me a chance to go down there and see if it works the way I’ve taught it.”
Reed admits he will miss the day-to-day interaction with students and colleagues at Bangor High School once he retires from teaching, but believes his pursuit of a seat in the state Legislature is a logical next step.
“Every day at Bangor High School has been a great day for me,” said Reed, who has been married to his wife Norma for 51 years. “I really enjoy teaching, and I’m not the kind of guy who can just drift off into the sunset and go play golf every day of the week. I want to do something worthwhile, and public service is very important to me.”
Reed’s legislative priorities would include job creation and fiscal issues.
“I think the Legislature has tried in this last session to create a better business atmosphere, and it’s something we really need to do,” he said. “I think everybody needs to understand that we can no longer continue to spend money we don’t have. We’ve got to be able to bite the bullet at times and make some rational decisions in which we think about the people who are paying the taxes and try to figure out how to make good use of the funding we have.
“Everybody is trying to make ends meet with what they have. I don’t think that’s always easy, but I want to go down to Augusta and be able to contribute some common-sense thinking.”