10 Questions With Justin Chenette
LSC Student and Candidate For Maine State Representative
Published: Friday, May 4, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 4, 2012 01:05
He has been on the Maine State Board of Education, a television political host, a communications intern, a youth organizer for the Democratic party, an assistant morning news producer, a news anchor and most recently – a candidate running for a state representative position in the state of Maine.
However, most Lyndon students know Justin Chenette as the friendly, personable guy who has been involved in almost every corner of the community.
From being involved with student government to becoming president of the Society of Professional Journalists, Chenette now faces the next chapters of his life as he graduates in December.
This week, The Critic sat down with him to learn more about what he’s doing today and his dreams for the future.
Q: You’ve been doing television for years. Why have you decided to turn to politics now?
A: I’ve dabbled in both. I have always tried to keep them intertwined – seeing how government operates and holding leaders accountable. It was difficult for me sometimes. During interviews with officials, I sometimes wanted to just interject but I knew I couldn’t. I want to do something more important. It’s about public service, not politics.
Q: Why did you choose Lyndon?
A: I did a campus tour of a bunch of really good broadcast schools. After visiting them, I felt empty. They were great campuses but there was not “meat” to it at the end of the day, you know? I came back to LSC almost five times for open houses and such before making my decision. It ended up being the only school I applied to.
Q: You’re very upfront with your thoughts and concerns on student affairs. What makes you so vocal?
A: It’s a spark of energy from within. When something irks me, I want [to] speak up and make it better or change it. People expect it from me now, they know I stand up for what I believe in.
Q: You are openly gay – how has that impacted you in being a public figure?
A: I’ve talked to a lot of people, and it seems that it’s better to not mention that component of my life in my campaign. I don’t think it’s really important, especially at this time in my life. I’ve always though that it is about a person’s soul. I know when to be professional. It’s a “take it or leave it” attitude, you know?
Q: Tell me about your job at Fox 23 in Maine.
A: I am an assistant morning producer for a morning show. It is all off-air work, so there is no conflicts or anything in regards to my political positions. I’ve enjoyed it. I book guests and help make sure things run smoothly.
Q: What is your dream job?
A: I would love to be a political analyst on MSNBC.
Q: What is your favorite thing about yourself?
A: If I were to look at myself from a third-person perspective, my best quality would probably be my friendliness and openness with people. It’s not always to be that way, and I know I sometimes slip up. I try to be positive and upbeat, both in school and at work.
Q: Tell me about your campaign slogan and why you chose it.
A: “Rethink priorities, reform policy and renew commitment.” It’s simple and to the point. We must do these things for our children!
Q: Who is your role model?
A: In terms of news and politics, it is definitely Tim Russert. I watched him every Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press. When he passed away, it hit me how great of a journalist he was. I loved the way he held politicians accountable and I think we need more of that.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Maine?
A: The people. When you go there, you’ll feel the friendly and positive atmosphere. People will bend over backwards to help you. There are so many great people up there and I hope I am able to work with them as their state representative.
Chenette’s Democratic primary will be held on Tuesday, June 12. There about are 900 people who are eligible to vote in it, and he’s been busy trying to meet as many of them as possible. To learn more about his campaign, visit his website at www.justinforsaco.com