Maine House Democrats have nominated Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross to be the next House Speaker, a history-making choice if she is confirmed next month.
Talbot Ross, of Portland, is poised to be the state’s first Black lawmaker to serve as House Speaker. She faces an official vote Dec. 7 and with Democrats controlling the chamber with 82 of 151 seats, her election is all but certain.
Talbot Ross is a ninth-generation Mainer and is the daughter of Gerald Talbot, the state’s first black legislator when he was elected in 1972.
“I am truly honored and humbled to be nominated by my House Democratic colleagues to serve as Speaker of the House,” Talbot Ross said in a statement. “I am proud of all that we accomplished during the 130th Legislature, but I know there is still so much more to do to address the many challenges facing our state, including the rising cost of living, climate change and a lack of access to affordable housing and healthcare.”
Talbot Ross has worked for the city of Portland, led several nonprofits dedicated to social justice and served in leadership roles with the NAACP in Maine. As a lawmaker, she has worked to pass legislation to expand tribal legal authority over domestic violence against Native Americans and to create Maine’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Tribal Populations, according to the House Democratic Office.
Democrats also chose their caucus leaders on Thursday, selecting Rep. Maureen Terry of Gorham as majority leader and Rep. Kristen Cloutier of Lewiston as assistant majority leader.
Earlier in the week, Republicans chose their House leaders, elevating Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham of Winter Harbor to minority leader and Rep. Amy Arata of New Gloucester to assistant minority leader.
Faulkingham, a lobsterman, said in a statement that Republicans had “a difficult showing on election day.”
“We have been branded by the opposition, it is time we brand ourselves as the party of family values and workers,” he said. “We can and will dig down deep and be more effective going forward.”
If confirmed next month, Talbot Ross will take the gavel from outgoing Speaker Ryan Fecteau (D-Biddeford) who was prevented from running again because of term limits. He described his tenure as “both challenging and immensely rewarding.”
“Her nomination is historic and sends a powerful message to Mainers about what’s possible,” Fecteau said in a statement. “I wish her every success as she takes on this new role.”