It is especially meaningful to be honored by your peers, Sen. Pat Flood, R-Kennebec, said after receiving the Abby Holman Public Service Award at the MFPC annual meeting. But Flood couldn’t resist joking with his peers and poking a little fun at the Executive Director Patrick Strauch’s long list of reasons the senator deserved the award.
“It’s very, very nice and I do want to tell you how much I appreciate the lies that you said,” Flood said, getting a big laugh from the crowd. “I appreciate this award very much and it’s very meaningful to me. I very much value it because it’s coming from my peers and the only thing I did want to say is that the peers look a whole lot older than the last time I was here.”
The Abby Holman Public Service Award is presented annually by the Maine Forest Products Council to an individual (or individuals) in recognition of outstanding service on behalf of Maine’s forest products industry. The criterion for this award is simple. The recipients must demonstrate a level of passion, loyalty, and dedication to Maine’s forest products industry, to good government, and a robust economy much the same way that former MFPC Executive Director Abigail Holman did.
“Abby’s love of Maine and our natural resources showed in her work,” Strauch said. “And it was here that Abby built a reputation as a fierce defender of our traditional natural resource industries.”
Sen. Flood has a long history with the forest industry. He received his undergraduate degree from the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and from Syracuse University in 1974. He began his career as a field forester in the Adirondacks and quickly moved through the ranks into various management roles, including the New York regional manager, the northeast regional forester, the Maine procurement manager and ultimately northern regional manager covering International Paper Company’s operations in New England, New York, Pennsylvania and the lake states.
When he retired from that position in 2004, he began a new career in the Maine Legislature, serving with distinction in the House from 2005 to 2012 and for the past two years in the Senate. He is the former chair and longest-serving Republican member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, and one of the leading dealmakers during budget negotiations. He decided not to run again to represent Senate District 21, which includes Chelsea, Farmingdale, Gardiner, Hallowell, Litchfield, Manchester, Monmouth, Pittston, Randolph, West Gardiner and Winthrop.
Flood also finds time to serve on the Board of Directors for Kennebec Behavioral Health in Augusta, the Family Violence in Augusta, the Winthrop Area YMCA, the Winthrop Area Chamber of Commerce, and as a member of the Board of Advisors of Healthy Futures in Winthrop.
“Many of us worked for Pat while he was at IP and respect him for his honesty and integrity,” Strauch said. “This same reputation followed him into his service in the Legislature. Here are just a few of the ways he’s been described by his constituents and his colleagues:
- “A brilliant and knowledgeable legislator.”
- “He has a gift of listening and relating to people young and old.”
- “Extraordinary leadership skills.”
- “Impeccable integrity.”
- “My ideal of what a legislator should be.”
- “One of the hardest working legislators in Augusta.”
With his strong background and interest in Maine’s forests, Strauch said, Flood “has always been approachable, and interested in the perspective of the Council. On the Appropriations Committee, he dealt with balancing serious priorities during tough financial times for the state of Maine. I know there were many occasions late at night — when I wasn’t there – when he was looking out for our interests and we certainly appreciate that.”
“So he was a leader in our industry and he has created an admirable record of public service in the Maine Legislature. His passion for the people of Maine is evident and his legacy is befitting the memory of Abby Holman and other industry leaders who served in the Legislature like Joe Sewall and David Huber,” Strauch said in closing. “My hope is that some of you will follow in Pat’s footsteps. It is with great honor that I present this award to Senator Patrick Flood.”
In his acceptance speech, Flood took the opportunity to thank many who had helped him, beginning with his wife, Marge, for coping with the “weird” hours of legislative life.
“Sometimes we really only work about 20 minutes out of a 12-hour day and then other times where we work about 64 hours straight and you just don’t know what your schedule is going to be,” Flood said. “And I wanted to thank Marge for her patience and her kindness in dealing with that for 10 years.”
He also thanked long-time friends Kevin McCarthy of Sappi, and his wife, Sue McCarthy, MFPC office manager.
“Some of you may not know it but Kevin was my campaign treasurer for seven successful campaigns and he kept me out of trouble, balanced the books and took care of all that stuff very patiently and very kindly for a long time,” Flood said. “Sue and Kevin are good friends of mine and I want to recognize them both tonight.”
Flood also told MFPC members “how well received you are at the State House. Your people are a very well-respected group. You get my attention certainly and I think you get the attention of people when you ask to have time to talk about the issues that are important to you. So you’re represented very well and I wanted to make sure everybody here knew that.”
In closing, Flood expanded on Strauch’s theme that others in the forestry community should consider running for public office. The training and education he received in his forestry career, he said, was great preparation for his second career at the Maine Legislature.
“You have competing issues and competing needs – very legitimate needs. The training and education that I received in preparing me to be a natural resource manager were exactly what I needed as a person going into a different kind of a work environment. So I do encourage other people to work at the Legislature. It’s extremely rewarding work. Not quite rewarding enough to have me want to continue to do it,” he said with a laugh, “for 10 years it was wonderful and I certainly have enjoyed the working relationship with all of you guys. So I’m very, very proud of this award and I thank you so much for it.”