Q&A With Alumna and State Senator Mattie Daughtry

Mattie Daughtry is a graduate of Maine Coast Waldorf School (8th grade, 2001) who was recently elected to represent District 24 in the Maine State Senate (Freeport, Brunswick, Harpswell, Pownal, North Yarmouth). Before her election to the Senate, she represented Brunswick in the Maine House for the past eight years. On top of that, she’s the co-owner of Moderation Brewery in downtown Brunswick. We sat down for a quick interview to learn about how her Maine Coast Waldorf education lay the foundation for her life of public service.

Q: Thinking back eight years ago, what inspired you to run for public office in the first place? 

A: It’s not something I ever thought I would be doing! I graduated from college in 2009 into what was up until now one of the biggest recessions, and I was struggling to get health care. I was struggling to make ends meet. And the governor at the time made several comments that were very disparaging to young Mainers. When my local representative resigned, I started getting calls from folks who were saying that I should consider running. And I had this little “wait a second” moment in my head: I didn’t have a law degree. I didn’t look or sound or act like what I thought a politician was supposed to be. I give a lot of credit to my hometown of Brunswick. A lot of people pushed back on me and told me I had a lot to offer. And I think, you know, all of my educational experience stressed and emphasized community service and the common good. I had learned you have to give back to your community and make it a better place, and I realized I have just as much stake as anyone else. I jumped into the race as a replacement candidate. I had three months to run and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

Q: And what made you decide to run for the Senate this year?

Senator Carson gave me a call to let me know he was thinking of stepping down— he was at the point where he wants to spend more time with his family. It’s a huge loss to our delegation and to Maine, because he’s been such a passionate voice. I was trying to decide to run.  At the brewery things are really exploding with wholesale, and I was trying to decide what my role was. As I was talking about it with friends and family, I increasingly realized this was not the time to get out of politics. I remember thinking about the wildfires that were going on in both Australia and on the West Coast, and little did I know what was coming around the corner.

When I decided to run in January, there were a few key issues that I thought we had a long way to work on: Climate change, which at this point is a climate crisis. Education— trying to make a difference in accessibility and student debt. Racial justice— we’re seeing Maine has a long tradition to make up for with a lot of inequities. And then just honestly, opportunities for young Mainers. So many of my friends are still struggling to come back home. And so those are the things that pushed me to run. And they’re still important. But I think everything shifted in March. My number one goal is working to be an advocate and a resource for our area to push back on what’s going on, make us safer, and make sure that we come out of this pandemic stronger than when we went into it.

Q: How do you juggle being a business owner and a Senator? 

It’s an interesting balance to make as a citizen legislature. So no matter whether you’re a representative or a senator, we’re only in half a year. The whole year you’re doing constituent services, but we’re only in Augusta half a year. So you’re sort of expected when you run for office that you will be having this sort of tug and pull. It’s not always easy. I have an incredible partner. When it wasn’t COVID times and the tasting room was open I had the most incredible staff who would know when I was in session. And I do a lot of the digital work and a lot of the social media. But I think it also keeps me grounded in a way that I really love.

Q: Who are some Maine Coast Waldorf teachers or what are some experiences from your time at MCWS that led you to pursue this kind of work?

A: If I start listing teachers, I’m going to get in trouble for missing someone! But, really, I think Waldorf was one of the best educational experiences for me because it really gave me the confidence to go out into the world. And whether it’s Maine Coast or my friends later on in life who I’ve met who went to different Waldorf schools throughout the country, there’s something about the education that not only is just hands on and experimental, but I think no matter who you are, no matter what your passions are, it really makes you believe in the common good. You go through everything together: your family, your community, no matter what your strength or your skill set is, everyone’s learning together. It gives you and empowers you to be able to speak out, whether you’re learning to knit or perform in your class play or blowing something up with Mr. Thurrell in the back parking lot. I think it just makes you a really well-rounded person. My education really gave me the courage to not only just have confidence in myself, but to be able to speak my own truth and find a way to make good trouble by being able to feel like I knew myself and that I had the skills and the support in the community to be able to speak out.

Q: What would you tell current students who might be trying to get involved in their community? 

First off, I always like to remind people that civil service and public service comes in many different shapes and forms, whether it’s being on your local comprehensive plan, review board, town council, state senate, governor— all of these branches and offices have an impact on our community and have something to offer.

You have something to offer. I think the number one thing, especially when I’m talking to students, is, one, just run. Just think about it. And especially for young women, it’s shown that women have to be asked seven times before they’ll consider running for office. So I always use moments like this when I’m talking to a group of students to say, especially to women, this is your first time being asked. So please consider running. And I learned that you have a lot to offer when you’re young. You don’t have to be a certain age to have a lot to offer to your community. And I think just having the confidence to jump in: you never know what you’re going to learn. And I think Maine Coast really prepares you to really think about what your impact is on your community and what you can do to make a difference.