AUGUSTA, Maine — More women are serving in Maine’s Legislature than ever before, and this session will also see the state’s first recorded instance of a father and daughter serving side-by-side in the same chamber.
Republican Reps. Amy Arata and Richard Bradstreet have both begun two-year terms in the Maine House representing several rural communities. Arata, a geneticist-turned-public servant, said she learned about perseverance and hard work from her father, who grew up on a potato farm.
Available records compiled by Maine’s legislative library show they’re the first father and daughter to serve as legislators together in Maine history.
The two don’t expect to butt heads, and second-term lawmaker Bradstreet said he’s happy to show Arata what he’s learned. Bradstreet, 67, beamed with pride as he noted Arata would be serving on the influential appropriations and government oversight committees as a freshman lawmaker.
Still, the two laughed as Bradstreet described Arata, 45, as an independent thinker who can be “strong-willed” at times.
“I was the normal teenage girl, not always easy,” Arata said. “But my dad didn’t give up.”
It’s rare — but not unprecedented — for immediate family members to serve as lawmakers at the same time.
The National Conference of State Legislatures in 2016 found a half-dozen fathers and daughters serving in state legislatures at the same time. Of those, just one father and daughter were serving in the same chamber.
In Maine, Arata and Bradstreet received permission to sit next to each other in the House chamber, where a record-breaking 60 lawmakers are women. Another 12 serve in the Senate.
Republicans are in the minority in both houses, and Bradstreet and Arata said they’re ready to meet that challenge. In fact, they’re related to former Democrat Rep. Seth Bradstreet, a former state agriculture commissioner who once sat on Maine’s potato board.
“You can’t always get what you want. You have to compromise,” said Bradstreet, who is also the executive director of the Manufactured Housing Association of Maine. He’s submitted bills to reform the citizen’s referendum process and promote youth employment, according to titles of bills released by the Legislature.
Arata said her father’s background growing up as one of eight kids on a potato farm in Albion taught him about respect, working with others and being responsible with money.
She’s submitted bills targeting residential rental agreements and drug use by students, and wants to ban “obscene” books from public schools.
“Service is something that’s been a part of our family growing up,” Arata said.