At the age of 28, Ryan Fecteau is the first gay man in the most powerful role in the Maine legislature, says the Maine House Clerk and the Conference of National State Legislators.
Fecteau was elected by his home colleagues on Wednesday in Augusta.
The rise of the Fecteau – and the holding of both chambers of Democrats in November, notoriously dynamic in Maine – is a bright spot for Democrats who have fought in state legislative competitions across the country.
Who worked with Fecteau he attributes his success to his political modernity, which is beyond his age. Even before formally calling his speaker, Fecteau met, telephoned, or magnified all 79 of his Democratic colleagues during the election season and traveled along the sea coast to areas near the Canadian border.
“I’ve noticed he’s been touring the entire state of Maine over the past year,” said Joyce Maker, a former GOP senate in Calais who kept pace with Fecteau’s trip on Facebook. “I didn’t really understand when I first saw it. I don’t think I saw someone who wanted to be a leader during my legislature.”
He starts at 22 in the office
Unlike many states, Maine’s citizenship legislature has a deadline, with the House and Senate limiting service to four two-year terms – which, according to Fecteau, gave it an opening despite relatively short service.
“I probably wouldn’t even be here if we didn’t have deadlines,” Fecteau said in an interview.
In 2014, at the age of 22, Fecteau won a house from his native Biddeford. He just graduated from the American Catholic University in Washington, DC, and studied political science, theology, and religion.
In August, Fecteau was assigned to the work of the Committee on Labor, Trade, Research and Economic Development and dealt with issues that addressed, among other things, the reasons why many of my colleagues decided not to stay in the state. “That was and was my real motivation to be in August.
It also helped him quickly make friends with other members. “The older man appreciated our humor,” said Anne-Marie Mastraccio, a former representative of the Democratic state. He worked on the committee with Fecteau. – He would make fun of us, but we could make fun of us. It just fit.
In his second term, Fecteau soon became chairman of the joint committee, alongside the chairman of the Republican Senate committee. Then, in 2018, former Speaker Sara Gideon was appointed Assistant to the Leader of the Majority, tasked with whipping votes and assisting newly elected colleagues in Maine’s part-time legislature.
Fecteau was 26 when he took over the leadership role. “I think with deadlines, that’s one of the funny things that results,” he said. “Someone at the age of 26 can be a more experienced legislator than one at the age of 50, 60 or 70.”
Gideon reached his own term in 2020, leaving the pulpit and House open to continue the challenge of failed U.S. Senator Susan Collins and provide an opportunity for Fecteau to replace him.
“Did I expect to be the next speaker in the House?” No, Fecteau said.
Unlike its federal counterpart, the Maine Constitution requires a balanced state budget every year — whatever it is. The pandemic drained state revenues of the Fecteau into a difficult position.
“It’s going to be miserable,” Mastraccio said, “but he added that Fecteau is in the right position to handle that.
“We have reached a point where my experience in the Labor Committee, the experience of an assistant manager, working with a very good speaker in the House for four years I think he will know how to get people through this horrible period that we don’t have done, ”he said.
“Right now, he’s the best person for the job,” he added.
What is the next step
Faced with his own duration, Fecteau spends his last two years in the house. He’s just started a new job at the Catalist data store in Washington, D.C., as an account manager – and he and 3-year-old Goldendoodle, of Pancake, Biddeford, are benefiting from home flexibility from work done during the epidemic.
“I’ve been serving in the legislature since I was 22, and I’ll be 30 by the time this term expires,” Fecteau said. – I have to think about what I want.