Democratic Gov. Janet Mills speaks to reporters Nov. 9, 2022, in Portland. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

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Gov. Janet Mills will be sworn in on Jan. 4. She had a very special role model as a little girl, former U.S. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith. 

Smith inspired Mills to public duty, to earn her leadership skill set with service, and Smith’s role model taught Mills to be a pioneer, a ground breaker. It would be too simplistic to think of Mills’ service exclusively while she has been governor. Her service is so much bigger, longer and more distinguished than that. 

Most people might not remember Smith’s votes. We sure can’t miss the fruits of her role model — all these generations later — when Mills is sworn in as Maine’s first, successful and reelected, female governor. Mills stood on Smith’s shoulders, and we get to watch, in real time, as Maine’s future female leaders now stand on Mills’ shoulders.  

Bob Jean