Ross and his husband, Patrick Oathout, live in Biddeford — just a few miles from the home where he was raised and the mills where his grandparents worked as immigrants from Quebec more than 100 years ago. After being wounded in battle in Vietnam, Ross’s father returned home to Biddeford and drove a UPS truck as a proud Teamster and his mother babysat neighborhood children to help the young couple build a nest egg.
They eventually moved to neighboring Arundel so they could raise animals and grow a large garden — not as a hobby, but as a way to put food on the table. Ross grew up doing chores around their small family farm, tending cows, turkeys, pigs, chickens, and sheep. As a teenager, he mowed lawns and worked at a local pizza shop to earn extra money.
Ross’s parents saved every penny they could and pooled resources with friends to open a small hardware store, but it failed. Ross vividly remembers the bank assessors coming to the family’s home to decide if they would foreclose on the mortgage. His mother began cleaning the homes of wealthy families in nearby Kennebunkport to make ends meet.
A few years later, Ross’s parents opened a hardware store and this time it was their own. They worked long hours, seven days a week for 21 years, building it into a successful small business before retiring in 2008.
Ross went to Biddeford High School where he played sports, was President of the National Honor Society, was an Eagle Scout, and worked nights and weekends at the hardware store. But most importantly, he studied hard. After graduation, he went to Dartmouth College on a mix of scholarships, loans, and work-study jobs.
Ross started his career by working for Senator George Mitchell and later, for Senator Edward Kennedy, where he helped shape civil rights policies, government reform initiatives, and national and community service issues.
After graduating with honors from Harvard Law School, Ross had tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Ross faced a difficult choice: stay home in Maine or move where he could earn enough to pay off his student loans and build some savings. He joined his brother in California, and worked at a law firm.
Ross eventually served as Chief of Staff to two top California Democratic officials and was Deputy Chief of Staff to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had a bi-partisan senior team. Working with all three leaders, Ross developed and executed plans to bring high-speed internet to millions of people, including rural areas; he attacked government abuse and waste; and he brought together a coalition of law enforcement, educators and faith leaders to address the gang-related violence that was destroying many communities.
Ross went on to work at Google as Head of International Relations, where he managed a global team focused on leveraging the Internet’s power to help small businesses grow and create jobs, as well as advance human rights. In 2010, Ross negotiated with the Chinese government and then executed Google’s landmark decision to stop censoring Search results in China, putting principles and human rights ahead of billions of dollars in profits.
But as Google has continued to grow, it has increasingly put profits ahead of people and principles. So Ross faced a critical decision: be silent, or stand up for the human rights of Google users around the world; be silent, or stand up for the rights of women, people of color and the LGBTQ community who suffered harassment and discrimination by the company. Ross stood up for them. When Google tried to buy his silence, he walked out the door rather than remain at a company that is abusing its corporate power.
Ross is running for the Senate because he knows first-hand what it takes to fight corruption and abuse of power in Washington and in the corporate boardroom. Ross knows that serving as a U.S. Senator is not just another job — it requires courage, conviction, and a willingness to stand up for others, putting Maine and Mainers ahead of politics and self-interest.