I will be an aggressive champion for Maine workers and Maine jobs anywhere, anytime. That means both getting personally involved to advocate for trade policies that are fair to Maine workers – and getting personally, regularly involved where appropriate to help workers and Maine companies sell more products and open new markets around the country or the world.
While I have not spent a lot of time in Augusta, I was born and raised in a family of public school teachers in a rural former mill town. My Pepere (Grandfather) was a welder at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Over my 20-years of service and three combat tours with the Maine Army National Guard’s 133rd Engineer Battalion, I have worked with thousands of skilled tradesmen and women.
When it comes to trade, priority number one will be working with Maine workers and businesses to make sure the state is doing everything possible to open up new markets and new opportunities for Maine products and services.
Priority number two will be actively fighting for national and regional policies that ensure Maine workers and Maine employers compete on a level playing field with workers from any other part of the world. I support an aggressive stance by the United States in renegotiating NAFTA. Maine has a critical stake in those talks with more than 38,500 Maine jobs connected to our largest export country, Canada, alone and more than 50,000 manufacturing jobs overall. I will fight for Maine’s wood products industry to ensure fair trade from Canada and also fight to prevent a “race to the bottom” because of low Mexican wages caused by weak labor representation.
I also agree with former Maine Senator George Mitchell that our state and country have not done enough over the past 30-40 years to help workers who do get displaced by trade or changes in technology. That is why I have committed to making Maine a national leader on this issue and making it a central priority of my administration. Under a Cote administration, in addition to pursuing existing Trade Adjustment Assistance and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity funding, Maine will pioneer new, locally-based ways to match dislocated workers with in-demand jobs and the skills they need to fill them.
In my military service, a core value is that you “leave no one behind.” I believe the same is true for Maine’s economy. We cannot afford to have thousands of Mainers left behind, not participating in our economy. We can do better with a governor who is committed to remembering those Mainers every day.