Administrative staff, Benoit, Larry, Cohen, William S., Cory, Gayle, Driving, Humor, Judiciary Committee, Maine, Mitchell family, Mitchell Institute, Speeches, U.S. Senate campaign (1982)
Michael M. Hastings, a native of Morrill, Maine, graduated from Tilton School (NH) in 1968 and Bowdoin College in 1972. Following a year of graduate study in Public & International Affairs at George Washington University, he worked for seven years as a foreign and defense policy aide to Senator William S. Cohen (1973-1980) and for four years for Senator George J. Mitchell (1980-1984). In October, 1984, he joined the international staff of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and moved to Africa. Over a span of eight years, he worked as a CRS development administrator in Kenya, Tanzania, Togo and The Gambia. During the same period, he assisted in the provision of emergency food for people displaced by civil wars in the Southern Sudan and Liberia. In 1992, he returned to Maine to direct a “center for excellence,” focusing on aquaculture and economic development. Since 2004, he has worked for the University of Maine as its Director of Research and Sponsored Programs. Between 1992 and 2008, he also served on several civic boards and institutions including the Maine Fishermen’s Forum, The Maine Oil Spill Advisory Committee (which he chaired), the Maine Indian Tribal State Commission, the Down East Institute, and the Maine Sea Grant Policy Advisory Committee. Between 1996 and 2001 he was elected three times to be a member of the Town Council of Hampden, ME, where he resides with his wife, a middle school teacher.
Anita Holst-Jensen was born in Karl-Marx-Stadt (Chemnitz), East Germany, on March 16, 1945, to Rasma Rasmanis and Arvids Lusis. Her mother emigrated from Latvia in September of 1944, and Jensen was born in a displaced persons camp, where she lived until she was four years old. Her family eventually emigrated to Australia in 1949, settling in Victoria. Jensen received all of her schooling in Australia and went to university in Melbourne. She married Henning Holst-Jensen, and in 1966 they moved to Perth. When immigration into the United States became possible in 1968, they relocated to the Washington, D.C. area, and Jensen took a job with Investors Overseas Services, later Equity Funding. In 1970, she went to work in Senator Ed Muskie’s office, where she continued until he became secretary of state. She transitioned to George Mitchell’s staff when he was appointed to Muskie’s vacated Senate seat and remained for his fourteen years of Senate service, becoming increasingly involved with speech writing and research.
Estelle Lavoie was born in Lewiston, Maine, on November 23, 1949, and grew up there, the youngest of three children. Her father worked as a building contractor until his death in 1964, after which her mother worked part-time as a bank teller. She attended Lewiston public schools and was graduated from Bates College (class of 1971), spending her junior year studying in Switzerland. At the end of 1972, she went to work for Governor Ken Curtis. By September of 1973, she had been hired as part of Senator Ed Muskie’s staff, working first as a caseworker and eventually as his legislative assistant. She attended law school at American University from 1978 to 1981 and transitioned to Senator Mitchell’s staff when he assumed Muskie’s Senate seat. She left Mitchell’s staff in the fall of 1983 and joined the law firm of Preti, Flaherty, Beliveau & Pachios the following June. Her practice has evolved from health law to other political practice issues. She served on the Democratic State Committee from 1986 to 1990 and was a delegate to the 1988 National Convention.
Mary Elizabeth McAleney was born on March 18, 1945, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Her mother, Helen Irene (Twombly) McAleney, was a Works Progress Administration worker, and her father, William McAleney, was a U.S. Customs officer. Mary came from a strongly Democratic Maine family and was politically active from a young age. She was sent from her home near Vanceboro, Maine, to St. Joseph’s boarding school in South Portland, and from there she went to Merrimac College. After her graduation, she taught high school in Maine, first at St. Joseph’s and then at Catherine McAuley High School. After eight years of teaching, she went into political work. She quickly rose through the ranks during Senator Muskie’s ‘76 campaign and worked for state Senator Jim Tierney. She served in George Mitchell’s U.S. Senate office for ten years (1984-1994), focusing on Maine issues.
Interview includes discussion of: how Mary McAleney became Mitchell’s scheduler; the transition from Muskie to Mitchell; how Mitchell’s briefcase would be searched entering the office because initially no one knew who he was; the Elizabeth Taylor story; the cow joke; the 1982 U.S. Senate campaign; anecdotes about when Mitchell accidentally sat in a canoe backwards and when David Emery’s float sank in the Kennebec River; the relationship between Cohen and Mitchell; Mitchell’s gaining the support of one of Estelle Lavoie’s friends because he knew the name spelling; Mitchell’s work ethic; Mitchell’s complimenting Byrd on his history of the Senate; Mitchell eye glasses and the striped belt; visiting Talmadge Plantation after Mitchell’s reelection in 1988; Mitchell’s ability to learn and adapt; Anita Jensen’s experience driving Mitchell to work; Mitchell’s lifestyle in D.C.; Sally Mitchell’s decision to stay in Maine and not become involved in politics; the women’s restroom situation in the Capitol; the machine-gun ban and how Feinstein did not want to come to the Senate floor the day after it passed; Mitchell’s process for examining different points of view; an anecdote about Mitchell’s changing his mind and explaining it to the press; Jensen’s lively discussions with Mitchell; the Rehnquist nomination; the role of the staff in Mitchell’s office; Gayle Cory and her influence in the office and with Mitchell; Buzz Fitzgerald; the dynamics of the Mitchell Senate office and the office organization’s lack of hierarchy; the longevity of the staff; Anita Jensen’s role as the speechwriter; writing updates about China; Larry Benoit’s and David Lemoine’s traveling around Maine to update the voter lists; Larry Benoit; Mitchell’s making sure that there were Mainers working for him; the interns; and the Mitchell Institute.
This recording and transcription are © 2011 Bowdoin College and are presented for private study, scholarship, or research only. For all other uses, including publication, reproduction, and quotation beyond “fair use” (Title 17, United States Code) permission must be obtained in writing from the George J. Mitchell Dept. of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, 3000 College Station, Brunswick, Maine 04011-8421, USA.