What I’ve Learned Thus Far
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.