My time in the Marine Corps taught me a number of important rules for life, but rule No. 1 was this: leave no one behind.
In the Marines, everyone knows they are responsible for carrying their own weight. If they don’t, someone else has to carry it for them. You work hard and do your job.
But if a Marine falls behind, he or she doesn’t get left behind. Instead, the team helps him or her along. And if a Marine can’t go any further, the team carries him or her.
As a Democratic leader in the Maine House of Representatives, I stick by these rules. I believe everyone should work hard in life, but I also know we can’t afford to leave a single Mainer behind. I believe that in my core, which is why I fight so hard for every single member of the community I serve.
I grew up in Leeds, a small, rural town of about 2,000 people in Androscoggin County. My family’s roots go back generations, working in shoe shops in Lewiston and on farms in Hampden.
I attended college at the University of Maine at Farmington, but the 9/11 attacks led me to enlist in the Marine Corps. I served four years as an infantryman and deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.
When I came home, I lived in Lewiston and Auburn. I got a job cleaning the garage at a motor home sales center and worked evenings and weekends at a pizza shop in Auburn.
I worked hard and got myself into Bates College using my veterans’ education benefits to cover tuition. I walked away from Bates with a diploma in hand and not one penny of college debt, a rare opportunity in this day and age. I earned that opportunity by serving in the military.
Since then I’ve been able to pay my good fortune forward by serving Lewiston in the Maine House and as the House assistant majority leader.
In the Legislature, I’ve helped pass laws that direct the state to hire new veteran service officers, improve outreach and provide mental health care to Maine veterans struggling to access care through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
I also passed a law to help police officers, paramedics and firefighters access workers’ compensation when they are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress. These men and women have tough jobs, and I understand the challenges they face because I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress when I returned home from Iraq.
It is my desire to continue serving our country that motivates me to run for Congress. I believe in my heart that it’s time for a new generation of leaders to take on the established powers in Washington. I don’t know if it’s the influence of money, special interests or hardline ideology, but I believe Rep. Bruce Poliquin is leaving Maine people behind.
Mainers want leaders who will put the middle and working classes first, not the Washington political establishment nor fat cats with deep pockets.
We need an economy that provides higher wages for hardworking Mainers and a future when everyone has access to health care and a quality public education. We need a future when Maine children don’t go hungry and opportunity replaces opioids.
I was raised in rural Maine. I’ve worked hard for every penny I’ve ever earned. I fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. Today, I fight for the people of Lewiston, and I don’t back down when things get tough.
Now I want to fight for you in Congress. I won’t bow down to the rich and powerful, and I won’t forget where I came from. I won’t change who I am, and I won’t hide my position on issues that matter to you.
I’m running for Congress because I believe you deserve a leader who will listen to you, respect you and work hard on your behalf. I give you my word: I’ll always have your back.
Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, is the House assistant majority leader and serving his second term representing House District 60. He’s running to represent Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.