Victoria Foley had no idea when she was at King’s that a career in politics beckoned from the future. She was just enjoying the Foundation Year Program (FYP) and then, studying journalism.
“It taught me to have an open mind,” Victoria says. “It taught me to ask the right questions and find out what is really going on. It helps me understand some of the underlying assumptions.”
Those were lessons that served her well after graduation. She worked as a journalist for the CBC in Halifax and Toronto. She did a stint with Aspen Public Radio in Colorado. She covered all sorts of events and stories—from local politics and entertainment to the Democratic National Convention.
“I have always been very curious about people, about what they think and what motivates them. Journalism is a natural fit for that.”
Victoria moved back to Maine, her home state, in 2010, where she worked as a morning show host on a local radio station before landing a job as Director of Marketing for New England Cancer Specialists. She bought a house in the small city of Biddeford and because Victoria is nothing if not publicly minded, she called up the mayor and offered her services as a volunteer for whatever he needed.
“He said, ‘Great. We’ll put you on the Downtown Development Commission,’” Victoria says, then she tells what happened next.
“After six months the councilor for my district moved out of the area. I called the mayor and said I would be happy to serve as a city councilor. They appointed me. I was on council for three months and then it turned out I had to run for election. I was unopposed. So, I am serving until 2019.”
Victoria always considered journalism “public service,” so in that way being on city council wasn’t a huge leap. But in other ways, it was.
“It was daunting at first. The hardest part is sharing my opinions in a way that doesn’t insist that others believe the same thing that I believe. It’s a hold over from journalism. It’s hard to shout my opinions from the rooftop.”
Victoria carried a little bit of FYP into the political arena “the ability to have a civil conversation and debate, to agree to disagree or sway somebody through logic, this is something I always come back to.”
Then the arena got bigger. The state Democratic Party organizers wanted her to run for the Maine State Legislature. At first, she declined, but then the man who had held the seat called her. Victoria says Martie Grohman told her, “I think you would be a great person to fill this seat. And I will help you if you decide to run.”
She talked it over with her partner, Kevin, and before long she won the primary and is now running unopposed for election this fall (2018).
After years of interviewing politicians, Victoria is now on the other side of the microphone. For her, it is the right place to be.
“The best way to make change is to be part of it, from the inside. I want to bring civility and collaboration if no one else is doing it. It may feel like banging your head against the wall, but if you don’t make an attempt, it won’t get any better.”
Posted: August 2018
Photo credit: Justine Johnson Photography