Administrative staff, Cohen, William S., Maine
Joan (Speed) Pedersen was born on February 11, 1940, in Boston, Massachusetts. Her mother was a legal secretary for an attorney’s office and her father worked in distribution for Firestone Tire. She grew up in West Roxbury, a heavily Irish Catholic part of Boston. She married and moved to Cape Cod, and later to Maine. From 1982-1984, she worked in Senator Mitchell’s field office in Lewiston, Maine, serving constituents. She later worked for Senator William S. Cohen and Representative John E. Baldacci.
Interview includes discussion of: growing up in Boston in the 1940s and 1950s; work as a caseworker in Senator Mitchell’s field office; heart transplant case for a veteran; gun control and abortion issues dealt with in the office; the relationships among Mitchell’s staff; Senator Mitchell’s reputation; Pedersen’s interactions with the Senator Mitchell; anecdote about her teenage daughter answering her phone when the Mitchell called; interaction between the Washington, D.C. staff and the Maine staff; daughter’s work in Northern Ireland; increased workload for caseworkers when Mitchell became majority leader; arrival of computers in the office; roles of the press secretary and the scheduler; state staff’s serving as the Mitchell’s eyes and ears; office security; transition to working for Senator Cohen after Mitchell left the Senate; Mitchell’s and Cohen’s working relationship; Mitchell’s qualifications for playing a role in the new administration; the value of bipartisanship and how Maine politicians have exemplified it; Mitchell’s confidence in his staff; and Pedersen’s feelings about having worked for Mitchell.
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