Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross of Portland made history on Wednesday by becoming the first Black lawmaker elected as speaker of the Maine House of Representatives.
After being nominated by her Democratic colleagues last month, Talbot Ross won unanimous support from the full House on Wednesday during the opening day of the legislative session. Talbot Ross has represented the city of Portland in the House for six years and is a longtime campaigner on civil rights, social justice and criminal justice reform issues, both in Portland and around the state.
Addressing the House as speaker for the first time, Talbot Ross urged lawmakers to work together on issues such as housing affordability, poverty, educational access and improving the state’s relationship with the Wabanaki tribes. The Democrat also noted that the 131st Legislature is the most diverse in the history of the state.
“Each of us, 151 lawmakers, are here to represent the varied and at times seemingly diverse interests of people from every part of our beloved state, where we live, work, raise our families and worship,” Talbot Ross said. “We are here to shine a light on the problems facing our state and to seek solutions. But we are also here to realize opportunity and put our value for the common good into action, illuminating the best path forward to a just, healthy and equitably society.”