I am grateful and proud to have these fine organizations endorse my campaign.
I have been endorsed by the Maine State Employees Association and the Maine AFL/CIO. More coming soon.
The past few days have been brutal in terms of weather-humid, hot and occasionally drenching. Several times, I was ready to set off and knock on doors, but didn’t. Why? Because I put myself in the shoes of people behind those doors, asking myself, ‘If I’m hot, sweaty and feeling wrung out, would I want to talk politics?’ Many running for office might disagree with staying home, but the more I campaign, the more I realize that trusting my gut is absolutely necessary. The weather will improve.
Thus far, we’ve covered most of Cambridge and Ripley. I’m now working on Saint Albans, stopping at every house regardless of party affiliation or whether the people are registered. One gentleman I chatted with about his antique cars and his experience building them has never voted, but allowed as how he might this time around. Another is a dedicated firefighter, serving both St. Albans and Detroit as a volunteer. He’s worried about eroding financial support as well as the challenge of recruiting new volunteers. These are issues facing many rural towns and are the kind of problem a county-wide brainstorming session (something I’d like to see happen regularly, maybe as a potluck supper affair) might address.
Another gentleman is dealing with chronic Lyme disease, has no insurance and is very upset at the medical and insurance establishments’ reluctance/refusal to recognize that there is such a diagnosis. He told me about an eye-opening film, Under Our Skin (http://underourskin.com/) that offers a penetrating look at the issue. I have ordered a copy so I can show it later in the campaign.
I haven’t posted recently because Beth and I have put most of our energy into campaigning. We’ve met more than 150 residents in Cambridge and are now meeting folks in Ripley.
1-Everyone seems eager to be heard, whether they’re Dems, independents or Republicans. It seems that conversations with conservative voters are longer and they seem to be eager to voice concerns. Even the most ardent 2nd amendment supporters are uneasy about semi-automatic weapons and bump stocks. We can agree that things are bad and no easy solution lies in sight.
2-Folks in Cambridge have a lot of free range chickens and fewer ticks.
3-The state’s refusal/inability to reimburse rural Maine towns for taxes lose through the tree growth program is hurting our part of Maine a lot.
4-The addiction crisis is far bigger than most citizens realize. I’ve talked to people in Ripley, Cambridge, St. Albans and Hartland who all have first hand knowledge of the extent. Discarded needles and drug deals are common and law enforcement seems to be overwhelmed.
5-School funding, bullying, inadequate services for special needs students and a return to teaching useful life skills are all issues mentioned by people I talked to. One sixth grader who was listening while I chatted with her mom, whispered in Mom’s ear. Her mother told her to tell me and she said school safety was on her mind every day.
6. I greeted one woman and when I asked what was her biggest concern, she hesitated before telling me her 18 year old step son had terminal cancer. How do you respond to that? I was able to express my sadness at her situation and noted that nothing I could say or suggest could be more important than her sorrow.
7-Kids need more attention when they lose interest in reading or getting some form of higher education. One woman told us her thirteen year old wanted to be a game warden, but wasn’t interested in school. I suggested she borrow Kate and Roger’s A Good Man With a Dog and see if he would read it.
8-Milk prices and the survival of dairy farms is big up here and points out how much of a disparity there is between the two Maines. One woman said farmers who go out of business get hit a second time because they have to pay a capital gains tax on each cow when they sell them.
9-Jobs are a big concern. Many we talked to work multiple jobs, travel 1-3 hours daily and have little or no health insurance.
10-Retirement security is a big concern. We have a disproportionate number of retired citizens and few have anything other than social security to rely on. Some are terrified that Trump and the Republicans in Congress will cut what they do get.
11-I don’t think people realize how hard farmers work. We saw a number of large cornfields that hadn’t been cut. we were told that two brothers ran a big dairy operation and when one had a heart attack, the other couldn’t pick up the slack and wasn’t able to hire help.
12-There’s plenty of frustration on both sides of the aisle regarding what’s perceived as able bodied young folks getting undeserved benefits. It seems almost everyone has a family member or knows someone fitting that description. I have what I believe is a viable way to deal with that, but more on it later as I’m still in the information-gathering stage.
13-Listening and understanding are my best tools in the campaign and many relate when I say I’m hoping to go to Augusta and work with everyone in the legislature.
Now that we have signs and a way of creating street lists, Beth and I are spending time several afternoons every week, knocking on doors and meeting voters. Contacting 7,000 people between June and early November is easy peasy…Right?
This was the part I was most hesitant about, but it’s really rewarding and eye-opening listening to what really matters to citizens in Somerset County. We’re alternating between Palmyra and Cambridge right now and we keep careful notes regarding what folks tell us so I can distill all that information into better policies as the campaign moves on. There are side benefits to doing doors. Yesterday, I chatted with an old friend of the late musician Jack Woodbury and at another place, Beth took some great photos of three butterflies getting a drink from a freshly watered garden.
Look for us at your place sometime down the road.
I received a call several nights ago from a voter I’d contacted about a clean election contribution. Her call was in regards to a pretty strong odor problem her parents were experiencing that originated in the Hartland landfill behind their house. When I brought my Clean Election contribution forms to be validated by the town clerk, I took a few minutes to talk the issue over with Chris Littlefield, our town manager. The upshot was that he was aware of the problem, was working on fixing it and offered to set up a meeting with the concerned citizens, a representative from Maine DEP, the town engineering consultant, the wastewater treatment supervisor and the town crew member responsible for covering new additions to the landfill. Chris offered to have me attend as well.
We met today and everyone had a chance to speak freely. It lasted for better than an hour and in addition to the citizens feeling like their concerns were heard, Lou Pizzuti, the DEP licensing and compliance specialist who is assigned to our landfill, spent a great deal of time explaining the laws relating to landfills like ours, how the number in Maine is shrinking, what the overall effect of those closures is having on municipalities and why our lined landfill was important not only to Hartland, but to other Maine towns up against the wall because of closure. In my opinion, Lou went above and beyond in how detailed his information was and how well he answered questions. In fact, the conversation segued into a couple areas outside the current landfill, both of which could provide new industry in town, more jobs for town residents and even a revenue stream that could help hold taxes steady or even lower them. I can’t say more about these possibilities right now, but this was exactly the kind of meeting I find makes running for office worthwhile because it was a coming together to make things better affair. Stay tuned for more information as I am able to divulge it.
Come join the fun at the Somerset Middle School in Hartland this Saturday. It runs from 10:30 to 1. Kids will get to talk to a fireman, a state trooper and a game warden. Other activities include enjoying an author reading, acting in a play, plant seeds, learn to be smart about money and several other fun activities. There will be a number of learning stations, a free eye screening for youngsters, free lunch for all, ice cream from Darlings and more free books than you could imagine. If you live in any nearby town, you’re welcome to come join the fun.
The Friends group offered a program on human trafficking last Thursday. Since it was poorly attended, I’ve done a summary as my regular post today at Maine Crime Writers. Please share with those you think should be aware.
I have been invited to attend.
Wednesday March 28, 2018 The Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its Meet the Reps event. This will be at T&B’s Celebration Center at 414 Madison Avenue, Skowhegan from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Waterville March For Our Lives
Waterville City Hall
One Common Street
Waterville, ME 04901
We are holding a candlelight vigil in memory of all those who have lost their lives as a result of mass shooting and gun violence. We will call out those trying to maintain the hold on members of Congress who are owned by a powerful gun lobby and refuse to enact even simple sensible gun legislation. We will also demand that our Members of Congress, Senators Collins and King, Congresswoman Pingree and Congressman Poliquin pass sensible gun laws as advocated for by so many including: Moms Demand Action, The Giffords, Bradys and others. We are joining in solidarity with the brave survivors and students from all over the country who are demanding#NeverAgain and who are bravely marching on Washington on this day. Bring your own candle or one will be provided for you.