The future is ours to create

By Jonathan Fulford

Last fall, as I was playing with my youngest grandson, he was beaming up at me with a look of complete trust and joy in being alive. It hit me that I could not look back into his eyes and reflect the same hope and optimism about his future.

In that moment, I decided that I had to do something to ensure that his future — and therefore all of our futures — would be as safe, happy and filled with opportunity as he believed it to be. The important work that I had done raising children and building houses was no longer enough. I had to do more.

As a first-time candidate for office, my goal is to represent the people of Waldo County, not special interests and Big Money. I am running a Clean Elections campaign because I believe that the influence of money in politics is bad for Maine. Everyone should have equal strength to their voice.

Since March, I have knocked on more than 8,000 doors in Waldo County and have listened to the concerns of people from all walks of life. They tell me about the hardship of increased property taxes. They tell me about the lack of good paying jobs in Waldo County, the increasing cost of living and their concern for the future of the environment.

To solve these problems, we need to work together. This will require listening with respect to everyone’s thinking and considering the experiences they bring to the table. This is what has worked in my family and in my business. It is how I will lead in Augusta.

I will work to restore fairness to our tax structure, so that the people of Waldo County see real tax relief. The tax cuts of 2011 favored the wealthy. Our current tax structure provides subsidies and loopholes to the largest corporations and the gap has widened between the rich and the rest of us.

Those tax policies also pressured the state budget into cuts that hurt some of the most vulnerable and shifted the burden onto local property taxpayers for town services and schools. I support tax policies that build our middle class, strengthen our communities with adequately funded town services, and fully fund the local schools.

We have tough economic issues to tackle here in Waldo County. As a small businessman, I have experienced firsthand the challenges we face in providing good paying jobs, keeping our best workers and growing our businesses. We need to increase the minimum wage to keep pace with the cost of living and build a skilled workforce so businesses can grow and prosper.

We can grow jobs and stimulate the economy right here in Waldo County. We must support small businesses by leveling the playing field, providing access to a skilled workforce and ensuring credit is available at favorable rates. We must invest in farms–a vibrant and critical piece of the local economy.

We must encourage innovation; giving our young people a reason to stay by providing real opportunities for good paying jobs right here in Waldo County. Opportunities like local food hubs, expanding MaineCare and investing in renewable energy — all rejected by our governor and his allies — would have added jobs here in Waldo County.

As a homebuilder, I know investing in renewable energy and efficiency will save Mainers money while also adding jobs and growing the local economy. The more we produce our own energy, and the more efficient we are in its use, the more stable and cheaper our energy will be.

This is also something we can do to reduce our nation’s need to be involved in conflicts and wars around the world that are costing us precious lives and our tax dollars. We hold the future in trust for our children and grandchildren and they should not be forced to pay for our refusal to address climate change and ocean acidification. By acting now, we can ensure the world we pass on is something we can be proud of.

I believe that we still have the ability to create a great future. The obstacles are not a lack of resources but a lack of courage, political will and hope.

We no longer have the luxury of allowing our discouragement and apathy to stop us from taking action. That time has passed. Instead, I ask you to join me in deciding that the future is ours to create.

Jonathan Fulford, D-Monroe, is candidate for state Senate District 11, which covers all of Waldo County.