For the People
[Update: On Nov. 4, 2008, Beck was elected to the Maine House of Representatives.]
Sitting behind the table next to his fellow city councilors, Henry Beck, a 21-year-old Colby senior, looks intently at a man addressing the council. The man, a local activist, is angry about the direction the country is headed and has come to speak his mind. Beck’s brow furrows in focus. He says there is not much that can be done at this level of government but encourages the man to not give up.
From his seat in the council chambers and — he hopes—as a representative in the state legislature if he is elected in the fall, Beck’s approach to politics is as pure as it is simple: compassion and hard work.
Beck may be Waterville’s youngest city councilor—and the youngest in recent memory—but he has been focused on public service for a long time. “Since I was very young, I was really involved with the local Democratic Party, knocking on doors in my neighborhood, getting involved in campaigns,” he said. “But, like most people, my political interest came from my family and from my parents.” His father joined the Teamsters, a labor union, after high school and became aware of the way that policies affect people’s livelihoods. Beck’s mother (Michaela Murphy ’78) was involved in public service as a prosecutor and public defender and now is a judge. “I’m really proud of a lot of the things she’s done,” Beck said. “I probably get my tenacity from her.”
Growing up in a close-knit community like Waterville also helped form Beck’s down-to-earth approach to politics by keeping him conscious of the way people are connected to one another. “It was a great place to grow up, a great place to live. … It’s really shaped my political philosophy in that I believe in community action and the way that government can be a force for good. I don’t believe in an on-your-own society; I believe in a connected, whole society.”