Friday, November 18, 2016

Nomination Speech of Rep. Hickman for Speaker of the House

Nomination Speech of Representative Craig V. Hickman for Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives – November 18, 2016

Good morning. Mr. Chair, members-Elect of the House Democratic caucus, family and friends. Representative-Elect Rachel Talbot Ross and Representative-Elect Scott Hamann, I am humbled and honored to accept your nomination for Speaker of the House. Rachel, your father’s legacy is a blessing, and so are you. You have both made history. I am proud of you. And Scott, I am proud to call you my friend and am grateful for our friendship. Thank you both for your kind words in support of my nomination.

To my colleagues, I want to congratulate all of you for your victories on Election Day. Those of us in competitive races couldn’t have prevailed without the help and support of Democratic staff and volunteers, a well-organized coordinated campaign from the Party under the leadership of Phil Bartlett, Peggy Shaffer, and Jonathan Asen, and all the work of the House Democratic Campaign Committee under the leadership of Speaker Mark Eves, Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, Assistant Majority Leader Sara Gideon and Sean Smith.

I stand before you today not because I lack confidence in Sara as Speaker of the House or Gay as Speaker of the House, and mean neither any disrespect given how hard they have worked on their campaigns and many of yours.

I stand before you today because a vocal and persuasive group of constituents pushed me hard to put my name into nomination for this office, even against the odds. I tend to do what a vocal and persuasive group of constituents tells me to do.

I stand before you today perplexed, anxious about our future, fearful of the loss of progress on so many issues that go to the core of our beings, and, yet, I remain hopeful and motivated to fight for what is right and I firmly believe that good will prevail.

I stand before you today because I believe that I can navigate the proceedings of this chamber and the responsibilities of this presiding office through the troubled waters ahead, while standing strong on the values we hold dear as Democrats.


My parents, Hazelle and Minnie Juanita Hickman, were children of the Great Depression. My father hailed from Mississippi and was a World War II veteran who worked for 30 years in office services for Pabst Brewing Company because the color of his skin did not allow him to have the job of his dreams, an air traffic controller at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Field, even after being a plotter for the Tuskegee Airmen at the United States Army Air Corps Moton Field in Alabama. My mother grew up in Ohio and held a string of part-time jobs, including a stint at the VA, in order to help put food on the table and make ends meet. She also fed young throwaway girls who showed up on our doorstep looking for food and temporary shelter. My parents were frugal, wise, resilient, and principled people, generous to a fault and strict as all get out. They believed in God and family. And they worked hard, proving the tenet of a black Texas dairy farmer that one works “not to be rich, but to be free.”

They taught my older sister and me the power of community and self-sufficiency. They taught us to revere public service as a responsibility and a duty. They taught us the values of fairness and equality, in the most literal and fundamental sense of those words: “Every person gets a life, and every person should have a fair and equal chance to make that life as good and right as she or he can.”

I believe these are Maine values, too.

Throughout my childhood in the seventies and early eighties, I remember the steel car frames that stacked five to six stories high. A.O. Smith, which manufactured the frames, was a factory just a few blocks away from my house in the inner city, a factory that paid good money for good jobs. When I left Milwaukee for New England back in 1986, the stacks had shrunk to two stories. By the time I graduated college four years later, those steel car frames were completely gone from the neighborhood skyline. A decade more and urban decay set in around closed factories all over Milwaukee and the Rust Belt. Young people with a high-school diploma could no longer earn a living with a minimum-wage job in the service sector. NAFTA had come to Wisconsin and too many good-paying, blue-collar jobs disappeared into the clouds, like smoke.

This is a big part of Maine’s story, too.

Which is partly why I am so comfortable here and have adopted Maine as my very own.

And my community has shown time and time again that it doesn’t matter what you look like or who you love or how you walk or talk—it only matters what you do. So they have now sent me here three times to represent them. Three times. The highest honor of my life.

Among the many things that I have learned in my time here in Augusta is that we need to write a new chapter to the part of Maine’s story that features shuttered factories and disappearing jobs and all the malaise that people in struggling communities endure, from poverty and hopelessness and despair, to substance use disorders, depression, and anxiety.

We have our work cut out for us. But we can do it. We can begin to write that new chapter if we listen more intently to the voices of those who cry in the dark. As Michele Lamont wrote in her book The Dignity of Working Men: Morality and the Boundaries of Race, Class and Immigration, for many blue-collar workers, “The dream is not to become upper-middle-class, with its different food, family, and friendship patterns; the dream is to live in your own class milieu, where you feel comfortable — just with more money. ‘The main thing is to be independent and give your own orders and not have to take them from anybody else,’ a machine operator told Lamont. Owning one’s own business — that’s the goal.”

Or, to put it another way, we work not to be rich, but to be free.


If a miracle happens—and it's gonna take a miracle—and you decide to nominate me for Speaker of the House, I will do my best to lead us in strengthening the institution of the House of Representatives and wielding its constitutional powers more assertively.

If we can do that, then, I believe we will be in a stronger position to continue to create better public policy that protects veterans and seniors, small businesses, working families, our natural resources, and our personal liberties.

Policy that promotes food self-sufficiency and clean renewable energy.
Policy that increases investments in displaced worker training and infrastructure and rebuilds razed rural economies.
Policy that supports self-regulated local food systems and strengthens farming, fishing, and forestry—our heritage industries.
Policy that ensures liberty and justice for all.


In order to move Maine forward, I will work to build a more specific agenda for our caucus and for the Legislature from the ground up. As a farmer, I know that good things bear fruit from the bottom of the plant to the top. As a farmer, I know that all things thrive in the full light of day. Therefore, building consensus and increasing transparency will be the hallmarks of my approach to governance.

In a government this closely divided, I will continue to strengthen working relationships with the administration and our Republican and Independent colleagues, in order to whittle away at gridlock and ensure key checks and balances.

I will always remain civil in the face of incivility, refuse to scapegoat any group of people for any reason whatsoever, and carefully choose words befitting the office to which I have been elected.
And if I have my way, we will end hunger, once and for all, we will eradicate poverty, and we will move Maine toward prosperity.

And so as we go away this afternoon, let us go away confident in the knowledge that we have elected a strong and competent leadership team who will serve the People of the State honorably.


Brilliantly blessed are those who work to create unity out of vast diversity, for they will experience heaven on earth.

Now, while we may never feel as though this hallowed place is heaven, we do form lasting friendships here. We will need to create unity among our caucus, in all its diversity: North and South, Coastal and Inland, Rural and Urban, Second CD and First.

The road before us is long and may be full of land mines. In order for us to succeed—and we will succeed—our leadership team will need the active participation, support and cooperation from each and every one of us; and each and every one of us will need our leadership team to navigate the troubled waters that will come upon us with integrity and grace, with wisdom and strength.

We can do it because we are Mainers.

We can do it because we are Democrats.

We can do it because, soon, we will all be sworn in as members of the Maine House of Representatives, the People’s House. 

The voters entrusted us with this majority. And we will. Not. Let. Them. Down.

Congratulations again to all of you. Thank you once more to Rachel and Scott for nominating me and for the opportunity to speak.

I look forward to our work together and I will support our nominee for Speaker of the House one hundred percent.

Thank you.

Take care of your blessings. 


House Democrats chose Representative Sara Gideon as our nominee for Speaker of the House. The full House will officially  elect her to the position on Swearing-In Day, December 7, 2016.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

I Ask For Your Vote

Dear Neighbor,

My name is Craig Hickman. I am the organic farmer, small business owner, poet and chef with a Harvard degree in government who grows tender collard greens and cooks good food for our community in my kitchen. 

 Four years ago this coming Tuesday, the good people of Winthrop and Readfield elected me to be your voice and your vote in the Maine House of Representatives. 

Two years ago, with reinforcements from the good people of North Monmouth at the foot of Mt. Pisgah, you sent me back to Augusta. I still have moments where I simply cannot believe that it has all come to pass. 

This coming Tuesday, November 8, I humbly ask for your vote once again. 

Chairing a regular committee meeting

Just as I did in the 127th Legislature as House Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; 

Just as I did as House Chair of the Commission to Study the Public Reserved Lands Management Fund; 

Just as I did as a member of the Citizen Trade Policy Commission; 

Just as I did when I shepherded an historic piece of legislation through to passage that prohibits custody transfers of adopted children without a court order; 

Just as I did fighting to protect Land For Maine's Future; 

Just as I did when sponsoring to passage legislation to promote food self-sufficiency for the People of the State, an important piece of ending the epidemic of hunger in Maine;

 Just as I did in working to persuade more than two-thirds of the House of Representatives to present to the People for ratification at the ballot box a resolution that would enshrine the Right to Food Freedom in the Maine Constitution; 

Just as I did to ensure that hard-working civil servants—law enforcement officers who put their lives at risk to protect our precious natural resources—did not lose their jobs; 

Just as I did when sponsoring to passage, against all odds, legislation that insisted that the State take full responsibility for the tragic loss, in a car accident, of two in our own community, Gus Cloutier and son, Casey, beginning a process that will fairly compensate Susan Cloutier and son Chase; 

Just as I did this past session—just as I do—I will keep working hard for you, every single day.

Taking the Oath of Office 2014

And I will always remain civil in the face of incivility, refuse to scapegoat any group of people for any reason whatsoever, and carefully choose words befitting the office to which I have been elected. 

 So, please, go to the polls this coming Tuesday and vote to keep Hickman working for you in the House.  

It is my privilege to be your voice. It is my honor to be your vote.  

 Thank you. Take care of your blessings.

Craig V. Hickman

Preparing to speak at American Legion's  Memorial Day Parade in 2015

Presenting a legislative sentiment to Stephen Knight on his retirement

Sampling the pig at Rotary's 5th Annual Barbecue & Gumbo Festival to End Hunger

Hickman in the Community

Hosting Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco and the Library Committee at the Farm in 2015

As the son of a World War II veteran and a wise woman, I was raised to revere public service and community. Civic engagement is paramount. For me, being actively involved in growing community is as necessary as food and water. 

Whether smoking ribs and sausage for hundreds each year at Rotary's Annual Family Barbecue & Gumbo Festival to End Hunger or roasting prime rib and potatoes for Rotary's Harvest Dinner, or frying chicken and braising collard greens for Rotary's Southern Fried Chicken Dinner, or flipping blueberry pancakes for Rotary's Hunter and Family Breakfast, I will always enjoy feeding people. 

I currently serve or have served on the following volunteer boards, commissions or committees: 

Winthrop Area Rotary Foundation, Chair
Winthrop Area Rotary Club, Past President
Winthrop Hot Meal Kitchen, Secretary
Winthrop Area Food Center at Annabessacook Farm, Director
Annabessacook Lake Improvement Association Board of Directors
Maranacook Local Foods Buying Club Board of Directors

Sons of the American Legion, Post #40
Theater at Monmouth Board of Trustees
Washburn-Norlands Living History Center Board of Trustees
Western Kennebec Economic Development Association Board of Directors
Winthrop Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
Winthrop Conservation Commissioner
Winthrop Green Committee Member
University of Maine System Board of Agriculture
University of Maine at Augusta Board of Visitors

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hickman on the Right to Food Freedom

This is my argument. I thank all those who advanced this conversation at the State Capitol and throughout our communities, all those who helped between sessions to fine-tune the language of the original resolution and craft the amended version, all those who reached out to their Representatives and Senators to voice their support for this measure, and those who voted in Augusta last week to send this resolution to the People. I respect my colleagues who voted not to. Two-thirds of the Maine House of Representatives voted YES, and that remains a victory. Unless the Maine Senate changes its mind, the final vote on this resolution will happen tomorrow morning on the floor of the other body. It's been quite a ride. And always a pleasure to serve the People of the State.

As my mother would say, we must go further and do better.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Senator King Honors Rep. Hickman as an Angel in Adoption™

Rep. Hickman with his parents and sister on the church steps of Siloah Evangelical Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2001.


Contact: Allison Coble, Senior Director of Programs
Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute
(p) 202-544-8500

Senator Angus King Honors Maine State Representative Craig Hickman as an Angel in Adoption™ To Be Recognized at National Event in Washington, D.C.

AUGUSTA, MAINE – October 2, 2015 – Senator Angus King has selected Representative Craig Hickman as a 2015 Angels in Adoptionawardee for his outstanding advocacy of adoption issues. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), which orchestrates the Angels in AdoptionProgram, will honor Rep. Hickman at an awards ceremony on October 6 and gala on October 7 in Washington, D.C.

 “I never would have imagined that twenty years of working on adoption issues would culminate with this great honor,” said Hickman. “I cannot thank Senator King enough. I will continue to fight for the rights of adopted children in Maine and across this great nation.”

Earlier this year, Hickman, an adoptee with a long-standing commitment to improving the lives of both adult and minor adoptees, introduced legislation in Maine that would prohibit the unauthorized “rehoming” of adopted children. Inspired by his father, a World War II veteran, and his wise mother, both deceased, Hickman has spent most of his life serving his community and feeding people. His award-winning 2005 memoir, Fumbling Toward Divinity, chronicles his search and reunion with his biological family.  When presenting his bill, Hickman asked his colleagues to “imagine being shipped across oceans to a new culture with a new language to become part of a new family, only to have that family decide that they don’t want you. And since it is not against the law, that family advertises you… and within days you are dropped off to another stranger.” Hickman’s bill, which passed the Legislature unanimously, will go into effect this fall, making rehoming a crime in Maine subject to the current penalties for abandonment. Maine will be the sixth state, and the first in New England, to criminalize this damaging practice.
Rehoming is not the first adoption issue that Hickman has brought to the attention of the Maine Legislature. He first testified, as a member of the public, before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee in 2005, speaking in favor of a bill that would allow adult adoptees access to their original sealed birth certificates. He was successful in this effort as well, and adult adoptees born in Maine were granted access to their original birth certificates in 2009.
Both in his work as a two-term legislator and as a private citizen prior to his election, Hickman has drawn on his personal experience as an adopted person to advocate for important changes to state law. His success in these efforts is a testament to his dedication to these issues and for these reasons, King recommended Hickman as an Angel in Adoption for 2015.
Hickman is also an organic farmer, chef, actor and poet. As House chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, he has championed food sovereignty, food security, self-sufficiency and other efforts to protect Maine’s small family farms and promote rural economic development.

Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Hickman moved to New England to attend Harvard University, where he graduated in 1990 with a degree in government. He and his spouse, Jop Blom, who lived in the Boston area for 16 years, have owned and operated Annabessacook Farm in Winthrop since 2002, raising organic produce, dairy, and livestock, and hosting overnight guests and a fresh food bank for anyone in need. For more information, visit

The Angels in AdoptionProgram is CCAI’s signature public awareness campaign and provides an opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of foster children and orphans in the United States and abroad. This year, more than 150 “Angels” are being honored through the Angels in Adoptionprogram.

“The Angels in Adoption™ Program is a unique annual opportunity in the nation’s Capital to shine a well-deserved spotlight on the power of adoption and the unspoken heroes who have made the dream of a family a reality for children. Since the program’s inception, over 2,200 Angels have come to Washington to share their firsthand adoption experiences with Members of Congress, highlighting its joys, as well as the barriers encountered in the process,” said Becky Weichhand, Executive Director at CCAI. “Members of Congress are then able to use their new experiential understanding of these issues to create policy improvements that better support these children and the families that open their hearts and homes to them.”  

In addition to the more than 150 Angels from around the country, National Angels in Adoption  honorees will be recognized at the gala for their dedication and commitment nationally and internationally to child welfare on a grand scale. This year’s National Angels in Adoptionhonoree is singer Rachel Crow.  Former National Angels include Korie and Willie Robertson, Deborra-Lee Furness Jackman, First Lady Laura Bush, Patti LaBelle, Jane Seymour, Muhammad Ali, the late Dave Thomas, Steven Curtis Chapman, Bruce Willis, Alonzo Mourning, Rhea Perlman and Kristin Chenoweth.

CCAI is a 501(c)3 nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the tens of thousands of orphans and foster children in the United States and the millions of orphans around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes through adoption. 

CCAI was created in 2001 by the active co-chairs of the bicameral, bipartisan Congressional Coalition on Adoption, one of Congress’ premiere caucuses. The goal of the caucus is to eliminate policy barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family and more effectively raise Congressional and public awareness about adoption. 

The Angels in AdoptionProgram was established in 1999 as a Congressional press conference to honor outstanding individuals. Since then, the program has developed into a yearlong public awareness campaign, culminating in an extraordinary awards gala and celebration in Washington, D.C. 

CCAI does not receive any government funding and relies on the generous support of foundations, corporations, and individuals to accomplish this mission. For more information, visit or