The reality of bipartisanship

In 2008, when I was first running for the Legislature, I attended a Belfast debate that stuck in my mind over the past two years. Two legislative incumbents, a Republican and a Democrat, agreed on one thing: 90 percent of what is done in Augusta is bipartisan. The rest becomes fodder for attacks during elections.

At the time, I couldn’t help but stifle a scoff. I mean, those two couldn’t seem to agree on anything! Back then it was about taxes on soda and now it’s about expansions on sales tax to reduce the income tax. As I sit at my desk responding to the eighth attack against me from a special interest group, I think back to our work in Augusta during these past two years. Can our work be simply boiled down into a series of four-line attack mailings? Absolutely not.

The truth is that real policy work happens in committee, and when it came to the budget, our committee of Republicans and Democrats was darn near unanimous on every line of the budget. For example, we all agreed that support for dairy farmers needed to be ensured, state parks could not forgo spring maintenance, and that, given their workload, we could not afford to cut the number of meetings of the Land Use Regulation Commission.

We had to organize bipartisan working groups to find a solution to unacceptable budget proposals, such as cuts in aircraft support for fighting forest fires. The committee’s unanimous budget recommendations were then sent to the Appropriations Committee, which wove them into a final budget that was unanimously approved by both Democrats and Republicans. That’s not to say we didn’t have our committee spats, particularly over issues such as pesticides and land use in the unorganized territories, but those were only about 10 percent of the bills we handled. Even after the most intense committee battles, we were all able to have lunch together.

A legislator’s job doesn’t end in Augusta. In late 2008, my wife began letting the answering machine go when I wasn’t around because there was a 50/50 chance it was a constituent call. Sometimes it’s something simple like pressuring the Bureau of Labor to update me on a constituent’s unemployment application or contacting our U.S. representtives to ensure a permit for the building of a fire station.

Other times, I’ve traveled through my district to take pictures of crumbling roads for constituents to send to the Maine Department of Transportation. I’ve had meetings with our state senator, local selectmen and the DOT commissioner to draw attention to a deteriorating bridge. I’ve met with constituents to intervene on hunter/landowner relations and invited constituents over to my house to talk about their ideas that they felt were being ignored by politicians.

Other times it’s not so simple. The representative is often the last person to call when other avenues fail. When the phone rings I often say a little prayer that the call isn’t about a child custody case involving the child welfare department, or cases that seem to call for a King Solomon kind of judgment. By far my favorite constituent calls are from inventors. Over the past few years constituents have invited me to their homes to look at a friction heating device and a super vacuum pump. Although I certainly don’t have the capacity to finance these ideas, I’ve done extensive research to try to connect these folks to the right people.

As the 2010 campaign comes to a head, and the messages from both parties become strident and negative, it’s important to remember what those two legislative incumbents in 2008 said in a moment of clarity: the economic Nor’easter that crept up from Wall Street a few years back still hasn’t let up, and we have a lot of work ahead of us. This will require lawmakers who are willing to work together, be responsive to their constituents and do everything they can to help them through this turbulent time.

As your state representative, I feel I have gleaned great knowledge and understanding of this complex system during these past two years and feel confident I am up to the task. I respectfully ask for your vote on Nov. 2.

Andrew O’Brien

State Representative, District 44

Lincolnville

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Thibodeau the ‘crystal clear choice’ for state Senate

In any election, it is important to pick the best person for the job. Here in state Senate District 23, the choice could not be more crystal clear.

Mike Thibodeau has my vote. Mike is a small-business owner, a fiscal conservative and a devoted family man. Mike knows the struggles we all face during these uncertain economic times. He knows what it’s like to face a sea of state-mandated red tape. He knows that taxing and spending our way to prosperity is not the answer. We need Mike in Augusta to represent the frugal taxpayers of Waldo County!

Our state government is a mess: Maine hospitals owed millions of dollars, a staggering unfunded liability with our state pensions, a Dirigo Health plan that only the truly partisan claim is financially feasible and a greedy state treasury that looks at taxpayers like ATMs. State spending is out of control, jobs are hard to come by and the budget limps from shortfall to shortfall year after year. As an “unenrolled” voter, I’ve had enough — Mike has my vote.

Mike Thibodeau knows that the private sector and small businesses drive job creation and job growth, not state government. I’m convinced that a man with his business acumen and friendly demeanor will do an outstanding job as our new state senator, just as he’s done as state representative.

I encourage all my friends and neighbors in District 23 to vote for Mike Thibodeau. We need a fiscal conservative to watch over our tax dollars in Augusta, not a “shift-and-shaft” tax-and-spender. Those who want to raise our taxes got a loud and clear message during the June referendum election, when more than 60 percent of Mainers said “No” to more than 100 new taxes that were being proposed.

Good folks of Belfast, Belmont, Brooks, Burnham, Frankfort, Freedom, Islesboro, Jackson, Knox, Liberty, Lincolnville, Monroe, Montville, Morrill, Northport, Palermo, Prospect, Searsmont, Searsport, Stockton Springs, Swanville, Thorndike, Troy, Unity, Waldo and Winterport — we need to send another loud and clear message to Augusta come Nov. 2: Senator Mike Thibodeau!

Thomas Carter

Montville

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Piotti has ‘positive energy, proven track record’

We are very fortunate in Waldo County to have an outstanding candidate running for state Senate. During his eight years representing western Waldo County, John Piotti has demonstrated time and time again his ability to listen to all sides of complex issues and forge creative, win-win solutions across party lines and multiple interest groups.

John Piotti is no bench-warmer; he brings positive energy to address tough challenges head-on and delivers results. He believes in building our economy from the bottom up. His proven track record in supporting farming, fishing and forestry — all critical industries to Waldo County and Maine overall — is well known.

Let’s hope John Piotti and many more like him are elected at all levels. This is the kind of effective leadership and fresh thinking we need to rebuild our government system and strengthen our small-business and natural resource-based economies. Criticism alone will get us nowhere.

Mary Ann Hayes

Thorndike

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Republican support for Piotti

I am writing to reaffirm my unwavering support for John Piotti, who has ably served the people of western Waldo County in the House of Representatives and is now running for the open Senate seat to represent all of Waldo County.

Many people have been surprised that I — a Republican — have supported John, a Democrat. But John has clearly shown the people of my area that he deserves wide support.

John is principled, approachable, effective and as non-partisan as anyone in Augusta.

As a past legislator who keeps in touch with happenings at the Statehouse, I know that John is highly respected by both Democrats and Republicans. He is known as someone who is easy to work with, and as someone who gets things done.

John took the lead on a series of difficult bills that protected the dairy industry. He brokered the bipartisan compromise that protected Katahdin Lake. He even took on a Herculean effort to try to reform our outdated tax code.

Of course, John wasn’t successful with that last item. He impressively pulled together a broad coalition around a bipartisan tax reform plan; but that plan was then weakened and modified and ultimately rejected by the voters. Still, I applaud John for having worked so hard on so difficult a problem.

Amazingly, I hear some people criticize John for these efforts. To my mind, any criticism should be leveled not at John, but at the many legislators (of both parties) who would rather sit back and take potshots than work to solve tough problems.

John Piotti has done exactly what we should expect from everyone we send to Augusta — he has committed himself to working his hardest to try to make a difference.

This is an election year, so you are likely to hear all sorts of things that aren’t true about different candidates. About John, you may hear that he is a “tax and spend” Democrat, when in reality, he has been a force behind major budget cuts and he voted for the same version of the current state budget as Sen. [Carol] Weston.

You may hear that the many bills John has passed are unimportant, because “the last thing we need is more laws”; but if you review the critical changes to law that John has made (in support of dairy farming, animal welfare, transportation, etc.), you’ll see that they have saved jobs or saved money and made Maine better.

Rep. Piotti has brought great credit to the state of Maine. Waldo County could do no better than electing him as our next state Senator.

Rod McElroy

Unity

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Waldo woman suggests candidates to choose

Democrat or Republican, I am impressed with the fact that people of Maine vote independently, for the person. It is rare that Belfast has the kind of talent available to serve its functions of government as in this election season, and I wanted to share what I know about this year’s slate of candidates.

Topping the list of choices is Marina Delune, remarkably qualified for her position as Belfast city councilor from the first ward. Born with cerebral palsy, it’s harder for Marina to function physically than most of us, but that hasn’t stopped her from becoming valedictorian of her high school in Cape Elizabeth and graduating with the first class of women to attend Bowdoin College.

Not many people know that she served in Africa for the Peace Corps, and that she was the successful grant writer who brought a free dental clinic to Waldo County. Marina was the city councilor to call owners of the Crosby School about selling their building to the city, she sits on the Belfast Energy and Climate Committee and she cares deeply about holding the line on spending.

Because of term limits, John Piotti’s role as Maine state representative has provided us with the option of sending him to the Maine state Senate. You may know that he is founder and executive director for [Maine] Farmland Trust, a statewide nonprofit organization. Did you also know that he was majority leader, that he is a graduate of MIT, an excellent public speaker and a dynamic problem-solver? What an excellent candidate for Waldo County!

Then, there’s the young and determined Erin Herbig, captivating voters wherever she goes. And she is everywhere, going door-to-door, making speeches, and spreading hope about what she can do to bring jobs to our community in her role as representative to the Maine House. It is good to see a young woman running for office, and I’m really hoping to see her rise to the top in Maine politics. (I must confess to a certain fondness for Erin, as I was her Sunday School teacher many years ago. Go, Erin!)

Having Betty Johnson as a Waldo County commissioner would bring stability and drive to the county. She is a tireless worker who will serve us well.

Though it is true that I am a Democrat, there are times when I cross the line to vote for especially talented and dynamic people running on the other side of the ticket. I know that voters are looking for the right candidate in this election, and I urge you to consider these folks for that magic day when we all take up our positions in the voting booth.

Jennifer Hill

Hungry Heron Farm

Waldo

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‘Enthusiastic support’ for Delune

I am enthusiastically supporting Marina Delune’s re-election to the City Council. She has been active in her efforts to improve the economic climate of Belfast, such supporting the use of the budget surplus to keep property taxes from rising. This, I really appreciate! In response to requests from small-business owners, she has supported easing restrictions that unnecessarily hamper their potential.

On a larger scale, she has actively sought economic development, such as a food-processing plant to bring jobs and support local farmers. She favors development of the waterfront as a benefit to both residents and tourism, while also advocating the preservation of our working waterfront.

Mindful of the needs of low-income residents, she was instrumental in securing a $48,000 weatherization grant for Belfast. Marina is also committed to bringing in environmentally sound businesses with jobs for less-skilled workers, so that the community can retain its social diversity and character. This is a very important issue.

While I am impressed by Marina’s efforts to date, that is not the main reason I support keeping her on the City Council. After watching numerous televised sessions, I can see that she is a real asset to the group. She is a thoughtful and respectful listener, and after listening quietly, she often makes very insightful and constructive responses to difficult issues. This same willingness to listen prompted her to investigate the possibility of using the former Crosby High School as a community center, a plan favored by many residents, both long-term and recent. Let’s do something positive and vote for Marina!

Joanne Boynton

Belfast

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Piotti ‘effective and respected leader’

I am writing to express my strong support for John Piotti to be Waldo County’s next state senator in the Maine Legislature. We are fortunate to have someone as qualified and talented as John to represent our interests. He is exceptionally knowledgeable about the issues that affect our lives most, such as jobs, agriculture, rural development and the environment. John has served four terms in the Maine House and was majority leader during this last session. His collaborative instincts and non-partisan approach make him an effective and respected leader.

In his job outside of the Legislature, John is executive Director of Maine Farmland Trust, an organization that has helped preserve more than 16,500 acres of Maine farmland — more than two thirds of all the farmland preserved in Maine. John’s work with Maine farmers puts him in touch with the needs and concerns of hardworking people at the grassroots level.

With his experience at MFT, John has become a leading advocate for agricultural issues, introducing legislation that supports Maine farmers and Maine agriculture. John is a visionary leader working hard for a healthy and vibrant Maine.

We can’t afford not to have John Piotti in the Maine Legislature. Please vote for John Piotti Nov. 2.

Buck O’Herin

Montville

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Troy woman urges support for Piotti

John Piotti has served as my state representative for the past eight years. I couldn’t be happier with his service.

I started listening to him when Unity was discussing the TIF [tax increment financing] issue. Many like myself just could not get our heads around this complicated issue, and at our annual town meeting John got up and explained it to us like only John can do. I then clearly understood how a well-constructed TIF could actually lower our local tax burden while supporting community infrastructure. From that day on I have taken careful note to what he has to say.

John’s priority is clearly the people of our district and of Maine. Ask many local people what political party John is from and they may not be able to tell you. That’s because John is not a typical politician. He doesn’t see politics as “us versus them.” He works to understand all viewpoints. He pulls people together.

Before being elected as our legislator, John had earned the admiration of many people in our area, including myself, because of his amazing efforts to help re-energize Unity. He brought people together around community planning and to create Unity Barn Raisers. He has been the catalyst for so much good that has occurred in our area.

As I think about the challenges facing the state of Maine, it seems to me we need people exactly like John Piotti in the Senate. We need someone who is exceptionally hardworking and totally committed to local people. We also need someone like John who is principled and practical rather than political. I hope you will join me and vote for John Piotti for state senator.

Jacqueline McCormick

Troy

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Arrison has ‘open mind,’ ‘ability to listen’

The Nov. 2 election finds Belfast in a state of anxious hopefulness, with families and businesses snared by a deep recession, even as they see signs of new energy and expanding economic growth glimmering on the horizon. Obviously the next City Council will confront tremendous challenges as it attempts to expand Belfast’s economic and cultural base while keeping a tight rein on expenditures.

Ward 5 candidate John Arrison offers a fresh, open-minded perspective and years of community involvement that would serve the Council — and all areas of Belfast — well. A resident of Ward 5 for 15 years, John has immersed himself in diverse community efforts, from Habitat for Humanity of Waldo County to the Greater Bay Area Ministerium and Come Boating! His leadership in these and many other organizations has been marked by his ability to listen to and appreciate many points of view, and then find the common threads that can be woven into cooperation and progress.

John is a quick learner with a vibrant intellect and engaging personal manner. While working for the benefit of Belfast as a whole, he has pledged to be especially sensitive to the concerns of residents of Ward 5, whose voices are sometimes lost in the public arena.

He is not pushing a narrow agenda on behalf of any one segment of our diverse community.

Rather, he promises to continue on the path for which he is well known: to listen carefully, to decide thoughtfully, and to serve honestly and wholeheartedly. John Arrison deserves your vote on Nov. 2.

Pat Griffith

Belfast

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Herbig ‘carries on proud Maine tradition’

I’ve been thinking lately about women leaders in Maine because I’m excited to support Erin Herbig for state representative of District 43 (Belfast, Belmont and Northport). I did some research and found that Maine ranks 13th in the nation for its percentage of women leaders in the state Legislature (29 percent, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University). Maine has a rich history of strong women leaders such as Margaret Chase Smith, and our two current U.S. senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. Hannah Pingree is an exciting leader, as is her mother, Chellie Pingree. Whatever side of the political spectrum you are on, it’s something to be proud of.

It’s not just in the realm of politics that Maine women are taking leadership roles. The Maine Women’s Fund encourages women to actively network and make the necessary connections to start strong new businesses and successfully lead them. MWF runs the “New Girls’ Network” that brings young women together to combat the idea that only the “Old Boys Club” can get anything done.

Erin Herbig advocates for young women in politics by her own example and through her involvement with Emerge Maine (which addresses the under-representation of women in state and local politics), and is strongly for new business and job creation in Maine. She has the desire and the ability to find solutions to the tough problems we face. I am so proud to give her my vote on Nov. 2.

Jill Cote

Belfast

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Belfast mayor supports Piotti

I’m pleased to support John Piotti as he seeks election as the next state Senator for Waldo County.

I have served with John Piotti in the House of Representatives and know him well. He is smart, very capable and easy to work with.

John has a great reputation in Augusta among both parties. A lot of people talk about bipartisanship, but John Piotti has done it.

John successfully advanced several pieces of needed legislation which required puling together both Republicans and Democrats. He did this on several bills supporting our dairy farmers and on the bill that preserved Katahdin Lake, among others.

John has also been a great moderating force on the Democrats. He is moderate and fiscally responsible. He pushed hard to make sure last year’s budget was balanced with cuts, instead of [increased] taxes. He will do the same next year.

We all know that the next legislative session will be a tough one. We need people in Augusta who are real workers and who have proven themselves capable of working cooperatively for the benefit of all Mainers. We need John Piotti in the Senate.

Mayor Walter Ash

Belfast

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Piotti a ‘terrific supporter for farmers’

We urge Waldo County voters to join us in voting for John Piotti for state Senate. John has worked hard for the citizens of Waldo County as well as the rest of Maine in the state House of Representatives and before. He has been a terrific supporter for farmers, and has made it possible for many dairy farmers to survive in these years when the price they were being paid for milk was not enough to cover their costs.

John knows how important agriculture is to the state of Maine, and that we need to be sure that farmers don’t have to sell their farms to developers, because once farmland is lost to building lots, it’s no longer available to farm.

John’s energy and ideas over the years he has served in the House have led him to be the primary sponsor of more than 25 bills that have been supported by a majority of the Legislature. In his committee work, he has worked to find common ground with other members, resulting in bipartisan support.

He knows that the state needs to have a balanced budget, and if the Legislature just cuts a lot of services, our property taxes will go up as towns try to make up the shortfall. He realizes the problem is more complicated than just saying we need to cut taxes or cut services.

His approach is intelligent and thoughtful and respectful of others’ ideas. He is just the sort of leader we need in the state Senate. Please vote for John Piotti for state Senate.

Paula and Sumner Roberts

Meadowsweet Farm

Swanville

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Herbig has ‘solid roots and good family values’

I’m proud to call Erin Herbig family and I’m proud to be voting for her on Nov. 2 for state representative.

Erin and I grew up together in Belfast. We also worked together at Moss for three years. Erin is smart, genuine, hardworking and always has been. She has solid roots and good family values.

Erin has always had the best family support, and that shows. We’ll all be there on Election Day and proudly support her as our state representative.

Vote Herbig!

Kyle Payson

Belfast

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‘Maine needs more legislators’ like Piotti

I have worked with Rep. John Piotti for over 20 years and know how much he has done for Maine’s small businesses. I first met John when he was overseeing innovation programs at the Maine Science and Technology Commission and have worked with him since that time. He has advocated for economic development in all aspects of his work.

The current black-and-white polarization in Maine and nationally bothers me. Businesses and individuals need to engage in the process with good faith and perhaps a little optimism. I have tried to do so through active participation on various boards and commissions and through my role on the board of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.

To my mind, no legislator has done more to try to improve Maine’s business climate than John Piotti. He has also championed economic development in his 9-to-5 job, where for over 20 years he has been supporting small business. He was an early force behind efforts to help Maine businesses innovate and commercialize new products. For the last 15 years his focus has been increasingly on our local farms, where he has made a real difference.

Maine needs more legislators like John, people who are willing to seek solutions rather than mindlessly opposing change without proposing any constructive alternatives. Empty words are one thing. Real work in support of our economy, and especially our farms, is another.

Maine’s small businesses need John Piotti in the state Senate.

Wick Johnson

President, Kennebec Technologies

Augusta

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Freedom man says farmers need Piotti

I don’t know if many people of Waldo County understand how much is at stake if we do not keep John Piotti in the Legislature by electing him to the state Senate.

John has been the major player supporting Maine’s dairy industry, during a time when the federally-set price of milk has been so low that hundreds of farms would have gone out of business had the Legislature not acted.

Back in 2004, John sponsored a landmark bill that created Maine’s Dairy Stabilization Program, which helps Maine farms weather tough times without any costs passing on to our consumers. Since then, the program has repeatedly needed to be tweaked in response to federal changes, most recently this last spring. John has always been there for us farmers, guiding needed changes through the legislative process.

Without Maine’s stabilization program, my farm would have gone out of business. Many farmers will tell you the same. All you have to do is look at Vermont, where no such program exists, to see what could have happened in Maine. Vermont has lost a third of its dairy farms in the last two years.

Because of how the federal government sets the price of milk, dairy issues are extremely complicated. We need more than legislators who want to help dairy farmers. We need John Piotti, who fully understands this complex issue and who is articulate and persuasive with the many legislators who know nothing about farming.

If you care about Maine’s farms, please vote for John Piotti for state Senate.

David Spencer

Freedom

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Cutler a ‘business person who will unite’

The election of governor is going to be most critical to the state’s economic welfare. We need a person who will not be beholden to a political party or special interests. Eliot Cutler will need a surge in people voting for him, but logic should dictate that the Republican candidate would alienate those not in agreement and the Democratic nominee is not a business person.

So a vote for Eliot Cutler will be to elect a business person who will unite, not divide, and who will achieve instead of the constant bickering between two political parties trying to satisfy those who donate to them.

Alan Wood

Belfast

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‘Bankruptcy of the Republican Party’

The Maine Republican Party is morally and intellectually bankrupt and, like the national party, offers nothing to the poor, the working class, and the middle class. Those facts were quite apparent in the candidate statements published in The Republican Journal of Oct. 13.

The economic situation has not been worse since the Great Depression. The demand for forest products has plummeted and the seas have been depleted. The mills have been closed and the jobs exported. And what do our Republican candidates offer?

Following the lead of Paul LePage, they all resurrected the hoary “issue” of “welfare abuse,” suggesting that Maine was a magnet for “cheats” attracted by our high level of benefits. I would suggest that readers speak to their friends and relatives who receive public assistance (TANF, MaineCare, food stamps), and ask them about our “generous” benefits. Readers might also ask themselves how many people “from away” they know who have been lured to the Pine Tree State by extravagant public-assistance benefits.

The Republicans, who are always quick to denounce any hint of the rhetoric of “class warfare,” are shameless in their efforts to turn working- and middle-class people against the poor, all the while serving the interests of their corporate masters.

The party that is never reluctant to trumpet its adherence to “Judeo-Christian” values is the first to kick the person who is down and, worse yet, to exploit that person’s suffering for political gain.

I’m not sure that Moses or Jesus would approve.

Bob Meggison

Belfast

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Piotti a ‘leader who transcends partisan politics’

Although I am a registered Republican, I am without hesitation going to cast my vote for John Piotti, Senate District 23, and I urge other small businessmen to do the same. John has supported the business community since 1988 with his creation of the Centers for Innovation program that spurred development in aquaculture, food processing and small-scale manufacturing, such as my business.

John’s leadership in western Waldo County has generated dozens of new businesses there. John is committed to rural Maine, helping grow businesses that fit with the rural economy, and is responsible for many hundreds of new jobs in an area that needs new jobs. No one in the Senate will be more experienced or better qualified to spur business development.

As a part-time farmer I am grateful for John’s efforts over the past 20 years to support, rejuvenate and protect Maine’s farmers and farmland. Waldo County has a significant, viable and vibrant farming community, thanks in no small part to John’s efforts, which are now being realized statewide through his work with the Maine Farmland Trust.

Over the past eight years as a representative, John has demonstrated strong bipartisan leadership that has earned him respect from all parties. He has worked tirelessly to find consensus and to bring people together around difficult and divisive issues. Maine needs leaders that transcend partisan politics to grow our economy, and John Piotti is such a leader.

Steve Page, President

Ocean Farm Technologies Inc.

Morrill

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Piotti has ‘outstanding record’

We in Waldo County are fortunate in having a candidate as well-qualified and experienced as John Piotti to represent us in the Maine state Senate. He has an outstanding record of accomplishments in serving his local, county and state government and his leadership in promoting business is also a tribute to his accomplishments.

John was elected by his peers to be the majority leader of the House of Representatives. He has a proven record of being an energetic, intelligent public servant and leader. His past record as chairman of Unity Planning Board and Unity College board, president of the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments and serving farmers, and other businesses in Waldo County, is full of examples of his dedication to serving the citizens of Waldo County and the state of Maine.

I hope you will join me on Election Day, Nov. 2 and vote for John Piotti for the state of Maine Senate.

Nat Crowley Sr.

Former state legislator

Stockton Springs

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Hurley offers Council endorsements

The Belfast City Council is a genuine race of clear choices this year. Who you elect will help shape Belfast. I have spent years working with good and bad councilors. Believe me: there’s a great difference and it’s why I make an effort to tell you who I will be voting for.

Ward Five: John Arrison is a thoughtful, careful, hardworking person with a long history of serving the people of Belfast. Whether he is organizing Come Boating!, Habitat for Humanity, or working with his church, he brings a positive energy. He will bring a fresh look and approach. John may not seem tough enough for Belfast politics at first glance, but his hobby says look a little deeper: he climbs mountains in winter. That’s plenty tough. His education and past employment as an engineer also encourage me to enthusiastically support John Arrison.

Ward Two: Roger Lee is an easy choice. Roger has done a lot of good work for Belfast. He is a budget hawk and has led the way lowering taxes three years in a row. His work for Belfast’s future isn’t a slogan: it is reflective of a well thought-out vision. His Tea Party challenger does not represent Belfast. If you want a tax-cutter and a resourceful public servant, please vote for Roger Lee. The best reason to vote for Roger is to say thank you. Roger Lee deserves your vote.

Ward One: Marina De Lune has been called the “conscience of the City Council.” She has a huge heart and leads with it. Her first concerns are for working and less-advantaged people and insuring that Belfast’s healthy melting pot is sustained. She is an active and deeply thoughtful representative for you. I support her re-election wholeheartedly.

A Council is made of six slices of people. We have to work as a team. Even when we disagree. It’s not always easy and it shouldn’t be. What kind of debates and solutions would they be if everyone agreed? This Council has done a good year of service for Belfast in a very tough climate. There is much to be proud of and still much to do. I am always impatient, but some things are better done right than quickly. I hope that you will help me move Belfast forward and support John Arrison, Marina Delune and Roger Lee.

And remember: everyone votes in all elections for all wards, no matter where you live, so please cast your vote for all three wards.

Thank you for your support and I’ll see you at the polls.

Michael Hurley

Belfast City Councilor

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Flags on political signs ‘disturb’

Whenever one leaves home nowadays, one cannot help but notice the proliferation of political advertising signs popping up like weeds along the roadsides. One in particular has drawn my attention because the candidate has attached small flags to the top of each sign. This disturbs me on several levels.

Not only are these flags being used as part of an advertisement (a practice not allowed under Title 4, Chapter 1, paragraph 8i of U.S. Code), but using the flag in this manner seems to send the divisive message that this candidate, James Gillway, is more patriotic than his opponent.

Paragraph 8j of the U.S. Flag Code states. “The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.” Thus, any use of the flag that can be perceived to be divisive becomes extremely disrespectful, not only of the “living thing” and the “living country,” but also of all that country’s living people, regardless of their political views.

Further perusal of the U.S. Flag Code brings to light the following rules:

• The flag should only be displayed from sunrise to sunset, unless properly illuminated during hours of darkness. (Does Mr. Gillway take all his little flags in every night, or properly illuminate them?)

• The flag should not be displayed in inclement weather, unless it is an “all-weather flag.”

• The flag should never be allowed to touch the ground. (I have seen some of Mr. Gillway’s flags that have fallen off and are lying in the grass or in the dirt.)

• The flag should always be “aloft and free,” and should “never be fastened, displayed, used … in such a manner as to permit it to be easily soiled, or damaged in any way.”

One would hope that the candidates running for public office in our state would show proper respect for a revered symbol of our country.

Diana H. Brown

Stockton Springs

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Voter offers ‘the right choices for Belfast’

Belfast voters face a clear choice in this year’s City Council elections. Do we want a Council that puts the needs of Belfast citizens first, or one that seeks office in order to enact the agenda of outside groups?

During their tenure on the Council Marina Delune and Roger Lee have been thoughtful, conscientious and committed to making decisions that were best for Belfast. They have honorably served the town and its citizens, and have not tried to turn Belfast into an experimental test case for any ideological movement. Both councilors have worked to be uniters in our community, not partisan dividers.

I believe that John Arrison will be that kind of councilor as well. His work with Habitat For Humanity, Senior College and other organizations in the area shows him to be the type of representative we need on the Council, one who strives to work for the community, not to grind some political ax.

I urge Belfast voters to rally as a community, reject divisive partisanship and mark their ballots for Delune, Lee and Arrison.

Neal Harkness

Belfast

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Former educator supports Sahadi

A vote for Helen Sahadi is a vote for honesty, hard work and dedication.

As a former principal and guidance counselor at Mount View High School, I had many opportunities to watch Helen’s work on our school board. She was always well prepared for meetings, took the time to seek input from others on issues and was fiscally responsible.

One of her roles was as chairman of the Dropout Prevention Committee. Her thoughtful approach supported many changes that resulted in a decrease in the number of high school dropouts. It was obvious that Helen cared deeply about our students and our community and still does.

I heartily endorse Helen’s candidacy for representative of House District 45. We would be lucky to have her representing us in Augusta.

Barbara Adams

Troy

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Lee ‘ hardworking,’ ‘visionary’

As a fellow city councilor, I would like to urge Belfast voters to vote for two-term incumbent Roger Lee, Belfast’s best and most experienced city councilor. Roger is hardworking, intelligent, cautious and visionary.

It was Roger who recognized that Belfast urgently needed a waterfront master plan. His vision will ensure that the Coastal Walkway is well integrated, that the working waterfront is preserved and supported, and that the best development options are pursued for the many properties that will change hands in the next decade. Roger’s foresight will positively impact the waterfront for years to come.

Roger Lee’s opponent for City Council says she’ll lower taxes, but I can tell you that nobody works harder to keep taxes low than Roger. He goes through the budget with a fine-toothed comb to find any line item that can be reduced, and he fought to use surplus funds to keep taxes from increasing this year.

Roger is a moderate who knows how to come up with practical compromises to address polarizing concerns. His solution for the Wal-Mart debate, which went on and on for years, paralyzing the city from moving forward, was brilliant. On the other hand, Roger’s opponent says she doesn’t believe in compromise.

Belfast needs Roger Lee’s experience, intelligence, moderation, integrity and good judgment. Please re-elect our best city councilor, Roger Lee.

Marina Delune

Belfast

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Piotti represents chance to ‘invest in future’

This November, Waldo County has the opportunity to invest in its future with the upcoming Maine Senate election in District 23. I would like to point out the contrasts between the two candidates.

John Piotti is a consensus-builder who gets things done. John Piotti is a leader. John Piotti is principled, practical, moderate and exceptionally hardworking. John Piotti is trying to solve the problems of Maine. John Piotti has successfully worked with a variety of constituents.

John Piotti has the support of many moderate Republicans — he was elected four times to the state House in a predominantly Republican district. John Piotti understands small business; he has run a small business and supported hundreds of others through his work.

I ask you to join me in supporting our Maine future by voting for John Piotti for state Senator from Waldo County on Nov. 2.

Donna M. Gilbert

Winterport

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Belfast resident hopes to see Senator Piotti

I am part of what is clearly a large group of Belfast residents and business owners who are enthusiastically supporting John Piotti to be our next state Senator. But I want to point out two things about John Piotti that many local people may not know.

First, John was instrumental in the creation of Come Boating! Back when this community organization was nothing more than a dream, John was a key catalyst. He advised us on how to create a new nonprofit, drafted our bylaws, and secured our first grant funding. He lived 30 minutes away in Unity, but he supported us because he is clearly committed to doing whatever he can to help people improve their communities.

Second, John has been an ally to Maine’s boat-building industry. I’ve testified in front of the Legislature’s Taxation Committee when John chaired it, witnessing firsthand his skill, smarts and diplomacy. I’ve also learned from other business owners who spend more time in Augusta than I do just how highly respected John is. He is known as a creative problem-solver and as someone who is principled and practical, rather than political.

John showed a sincere interest in the boat-building industry’s concerns and spent the time needed to understand our particular problems in detail. He then worked hard to try to solve those problems. Not all of them could be solved, but our industry has taken some important steps forward, thanks in part to John’s efforts in the Legislature over the last few years.

As a Belfast resident, John wasn’t my state representative during this time, but I nonetheless felt well represented by him. I look forward to his service as our state Senator.

Todd French

Belfast

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Thibodeau ‘right person for the job’

Waldo County residents will elect a new state senator this November. After eight years of outstanding service, Sen. [Carol] Weston terms out. Having served with Representative Mike Thibodeau, I believe he is the right person for the job.

Rep. Thibodeau is a proven legislator who supports what is best for Maine people. Mike voted yes on LD 290, to allow Maine families to purchase more affordable health insurance out of state. Mike supported LD 347, a bill to reduce the regulatory burden for Maine businesses.

Mike said yes again to LD 1148, a bill to designate a “Sales Tax Holiday” one weekend each year, a very popular law in several states. Finally, Mike voted yes for the Wellness Bill (LD 590), legislation I introduced to encourage small businesses to start wellness programs for their employees. On each vote, Mike studied the issue to make the best choice for his constituents.

The Maine Economic Research Institute, chaired by Peter Vigue of Cianbro, is a nonpartisan organization that covers the voting records of Maine legislators on issues impacting Maine businesses and their families. MERI’s recent Roll Call 2009-2010, ranked Rep. Thibodeau as a very strong supporter of Maine’s economy. His voting record speaks for itself.

On Nov. 2, let’s vote for Maine families, Maine jobs and the Maine economy. Let’s vote for Mike Thibodeau to be Waldo County’s next state senator. Thank you.

Jayne Crosby Giles

State Representative, District 43

Belfast

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Taxpayer wants someone to ‘work for Belfast’

Rita Horsey says she is running for Belfast City Council because she doesn’t like how past councils have spent taxpayer money. As a Belfast taxpayer for the past 26 years, I like how my money has been spent for the most part.

I like having my roads maintained and the sidewalks plowed. I like the police and fire protection. I like having clean, clear water piped into my house and the sewage piped out. I like our library and the fact that our children can learn to swim at the park pool. I like the open spaces the city has preserved to improve our quality of life and bring visitors and new residents. I like the festivals that build community and bring tourists. And I like the pro-active, pro-jobs approach that hiring an economic development director represents.

What I don’t like are the extremist views of Tea Party members like Rita Horsey. We certainly don’t need that at our City Council meetings. What we need is someone who is going to work for Belfast, not against it. That person is Roger Lee.

Vote for Roger Lee for City Council from Ward 3.

Linda Buckmaster

Belfast

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Piotti has served ‘with real distinction’

Where do I begin to talk about the amazing contributions that John Piotti has made, both locally and statewide?

I now serve as executive director of Unity Barn Raisers, an organization that John conceived and helped create. For UBR’s first 10 years (through 2005), John served as UBR’s executive director and he did so as a volunteer, without pay.

During this period, UBR renovated several downtown buildings, created a new park, planted over 300 new trees, created a farmers’ market and community meals program, and so much more. In recognition of this work, UBR received the Noyce Award from the Maine Community Foundation as the most impressive nonprofit organization in Maine.

I’ve also followed John’s legislative work closely. He has represented western Waldo County with real distinction. Unlike many legislators who seem content just to have the title, John has been a “do-er.” His primary focus has been on farming, and he is widely credited with leading efforts that have made a real difference for Maine farmers.

But what’s more impressive than what John has accomplished is how he has done so. Locally, his approach has always been to bring people together, whether it be through his work at UBR or on Unity’s Comprehensive Plan Committee (which John has chaired or co-chaired since 1993).That is also the approach he’s taken in the Legislature.

I recently attended an event where Maine House Speaker Hannah Pingree talked about John, providing one detailed story after another about how John formed bipartisan consensus around tough issues. He is clearly a consensus-builder, with an impeccable reputation among both Democrats and Republicans. In these times where politics are getting more contentious and polarized, John is exactly the kind of person we need in government.

Here in the Unity area, we have been incredibly fortunate to have someone like John Piotti to represent us in the Legislature. I cannot imagine how anyone who knows this man who would not enthusiastically support him for state Senate.

Tess Woods

Unity

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Prospect woman calls Brooks ‘career politician’

So Joe Brooks is running for the Maine State Legislature yet again. From 1996 to 2002 Mr. Brooks served in the 118th, 119th, and 120th Maine State Legislatures. House term limits kept him from running again in 2002 so he ran for the Maine State Senate that year. He lost. He ran for the House again in 2004 and lost. He ran for the House again in 2006 and lost.

Now he is running for the House again in 2010. I would call Mr. Brooks a career politician. Folks who remember how Rep. Brooks voted in the House don’t want him back. I would ask those who do not remember his legislative record this, do we really want a failed career politician in our state Legislature again?

Kathleen Williamson

Prospect

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Will Pelletier extend a helping hand?

In Sarah Reynolds’ interview with [House District 44] Republican candidate Wendy Pelletier [that appeared in the Oct. 13 TRJ], Pelletier says that, “Money should never be taken from those who have earned it to give to those who don’t have it.” Harsh words from someone who has publicly stated that as a single mother with small children, she accepted government assistance. Why is Wendy Pelletier unwilling to extend a hand to the neediest families now?

On her Twitter feed, Pelletier advocates Bible classes in public schools, but has sent her own children to private Christian schools. So how did she miss this crucial message from the New Testament?

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18.

Representative Andrew O’Brien has spent the last two years helping his neighbors in Waldo and Knox counties — working parents, farmers, small-business owners, elderly folks on a limited income. On Nov. 2, I hope you’ll vote for him.

Elizabeth Hand

Lincolnville

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Palermo man defends Piotti

David Parkman, treasurer of Waldo County, has written a letter chastising John Piotti for not responding to a letter that was sent in May of this year [“County treasurer backs Thibodeau” letter to the editor, Oct. 6 TRJ].

I would like to comment on that letter.

First, it seems that it took Mr. Parkman a long time to bring the matter to the attention of the public. I learned long ago that a simple phone call, made in a timely manner, can clear up many misunderstandings.

Second, I have known both gentlemen for a long time and have considered both of them to be friends. While, admittedly, my leanings are Democratic in politics, I have known many honorable men and women of both parties in my lifetime.

John Piotti has been ever-mindful of his responsibilities to represent the people of his district. Waldo County will be well served by having John Piotti as its next senator.

Without going into the details, I have had a rather minor, although technical, ongoing septic tank issue involving the state of Maine, the town of Palermo and the DEP. Mr. Piotti has gone above and beyond and has been extremely supportive to me for the past two years in an effort to bring the matter to completion. He has found the time to be in regular contact with me through personal visits, phone calls and e-mails for that entire time. That epitomizes his dedication to the people of his district.

Lester B. Davis

Palermo

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Vote for Herbig is ‘vote in support of youth’

It has been my pleasure to get to know Erin Herbig through her involvement with the Belfast Area High School track team. As a teacher at the high school and as a coach myself, I understand how important it is to elect a candidate who sees the value in supporting education and empowering young people. With statewide budget shortfalls and talk of reform on the national level, this is a critical time in education; we need someone like Erin in Augusta who will fight for what’s best for Maine students.

Erin utilizes her strengths as a leader to inspire young people to get involved and to invest in themselves. She runs alongside her teenaged athletes in track practices, and I am confident that she will employ the same lead-by-example approach in the Maine Legislature.

Erin strives to increase students’ exposure to the benefits of furthering their education and future professional experiences. She works with the Maine Women’s Lobby as a volunteer for the Girls’ Day Program, bringing eighth-grade girls from across Maine to the State House to learn about the legislative process. In the past year she has also worked with the Maine Development Foundation and the Mitchell Institute on a project that researches the barriers to higher education in Maine.

Erin has already demonstrated that she cares about the future of Maine’s youth. As state representative she will continue to work to support education and job creation so that Maine’s best and brightest will not have to look elsewhere for higher education or employment opportunities.

I am a strong supporter of Erin’s for state representative because of her forward thinking, determination and commitment to increasing opportunities for young people in this area. Please join me in voting for Erin Herbig on Nov. 2.

Michelle Leavitt

BAHS Teacher

Belfast

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Belfast man impressed with Horsey

Thank you to The Republican Journal and VillageSoup for hosting the recent candidates’ night, so that the candidates for City Council could give their opinions. I enjoyed listening to all the candidates. I was most impressed by Rita Horsey.

Mrs. Horsey understands that a lot of us are having trouble paying our property taxes. What town has a higher tax rate than Belfast? None. We don’t have better services than any of the other towns, either. The only reason that I can see for our higher property taxes is that the City Council is spending our tax money for things that are not necessary, such as the strip of land they purchased for the walkway along the water. The way the City Council has been spending our money doesn’t make sense.

The Belfast City Council and the Planning Board really don’t want new business in this city. I know a lot of people from away moved to Belfast because they like the way it is. They are not thinking of us, who have been here a long time. We would like more convenient places to shop and we would like for the people who live in Belfast to be able to work in Belfast. When Jerry’s True Value wanted to expand and create more jobs, the Planning Board told them they needed 75 parking spaces. Art’s Canvas left Belfast because his property taxes were going to be increased a lot. I don’t know why Moss left Belfast — but they are gone, along with lots of jobs.

I support Rita Horsey for City Council. She knows spending needs to be controlled and Belfast needs new business. We should elect Rita Horsey for City Council.

Ed Berry

Belfast

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Belfast woman supports Sahadi

I’m writing in support of Helen Sahadi’s candidacy for state representative in District 45. She will represent Burnham, Freedom, Knox, Montville, Palermo, Thorndike, Troy and Unity. And when she casts a vote in Augusta, she will also represent me, a resident of Belfast.

Helen and her husband have lived in Thorndike for more than 30 years. She has raised a family, taught school and volunteered widely and enthusiastically. In addition to serving on the MSAD 3 school board for eight years, Helen has given her time to her PTA, her local food co-op, and her parks and rec committee, her daughters’ Scout troops, as well as her business community.

Helen’s Belfast yarn shop draws customers from a wide area and has a large and faithful following. They come for the yarn and are drawn in by Helen’s warmth and skill at community-building. She is a good listener, a quick thinker and good at seeking solutions. Her enthusiasm and willingness to give 150 percent to everything she does will serve her well in the Legislature.

Though only District 45 voters can get Helen to Augusta, once there, all of us who live in Maine will benefit. She will work to attract businesses to our state and to help schools use their funding more effectively. Fiscally, Helen is conservative. Personally, she is fair and open-minded. Please help her to help Maine be all it can be.

Gina Cressey

Belfast

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O’Brien ‘balanced, not an extremist’

In the race to represent District 44 (Lincolnville, Islesboro, Hope, Appleton, Searsmont, Liberty and Morrill) candidate [and current representative] Andy O’Brien represents us and our beliefs. Challenger Wendy Pelletier presents a stark distinction.

The recent attack ads distributed by Pelletier’s camp are disheartening. Rep. Andy O’Brien has run a clean, ethical and fair campaign. Moreover, through her twitter comments, Pelletier shows us she is an extremist; she said she wants Bible classes taught in public schools, forcing her religious views on our children. She is also intolerant of how people choose to run their businesses (see her Tweets — in her own words — on boycotting businesses that are welcoming), and how people want to live their lives.

In a recent interview, Pelletier stated that she would also “tighten” public assistance, which really means cutting off Maine families in need. Our public assistance is the lowest in New England. For a hardworking person it is heartbreaking to ask for help; our people are proud and hardworking. Times are tough for everyone, and Andy O’Brien responsibly voted to support the neediest people in our state.

I’ve volunteered in a food pantry and a soup kitchen. I’ve seen children and families that receive public assistance who need the help, and by no means are they living the high life on public aid. Helping our needy children and families is the right thing to do. And in Maine we do the right thing by our neighbors and fellow citizens.

Andy O’Brien believes we should have the freedom to live the lives we want, run our businesses the way we want and to worship the way we want.

Do the right thing and vote for Andy O’Brien.

Claire Adams

Appleton

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‘Two weeks to go’

Over the last six months, I have gone door to door in Belfast, Belmont and Northport. I’ve visited more than 2,500 homes discussing the issues and listening to your concerns. With just under two weeks until Election Day, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the experiences and interactions I have had during this campaign.

I understand that people are frustrated, scared and concerned about the future of Maine and our country. There is a lot to be concerned about. As Mainers face the coming winter and all the uncertainties it holds, it is sometimes hard to know which candidate is going to best serve their needs in Augusta.

I am running because I believe that the strength of our communities lies in our small businesses, our teachers and the inherent sense of fairness found in the small towns of Maine. I believe that health care is a right, not a privilege. I believe that access to quality education is the hallmark of America’s promise to its youth. I believe in preserving the traditions of Maine in the face of those who wish to exploit our state for temporary gain.

My upbringing in the hardworking community of Belfast has given me the perspective, strength and desire to bring local concerns to Augusta and help create the change needed to move us forward through these challenging times. This is not the time to give in to fear, to allow those who would manipulate our apprehensions to gain ground and sacrifice the things we’ve worked so hard to maintain.

I deeply value hearing from each of you, whether you have a concern or question, an idea, or information to share. I think that great ideas can come from many places. By listening to each other, we can find the best solutions at home and in Augusta for the challenges we face, and we can guide public policy to benefit our community and other communities across Maine.

I believe in Maine and the strong people who live here. My state and community have given me so much that now I’d like to give something back. I respectfully ask for your vote on Nov. 2.

Erin Herbig

House District 43 candidate

Belfast

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District 44 ‘fortunate to have O’Brien’

I’m writing in response to the mailings my family has been receiving claiming that Andy O’Brien does not represent the communities of District 44.

My own experience has been exactly the opposite. Andy represents us, understands us and works tirelessly for us in Augusta.

As the former chair of the CSD board and a three-year member of the local school reorganization committee, I’ve had the opportunity to see Andy at work. New educational legislation put our Five Town school district in the peculiar position of possibly losing more in state education subsidies if we reorganized than we would have to pay in penalties if we didn’t comply.

It’s a complex issue, with estimates of penalties and subsidies changing every few months, but Andy has worked diligently to make sense of it all. He’s worked with us to develop a legislative strategy, drafted and submitted bills, and attended all of the relevant hearings and work sessions.

He’s intelligent, he understands the issues, and he is hardworking, positive and always respectful. We are fortunate to have Mr. O’Brien representing us in Augusta.

I urge everyone to vote for Andy O’Brien as state representative from Lincolnville, Islesboro, Hope, Appleton, Searsmont, Liberty, and Morrill.

Michael Kosowsky

Lincolnville

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Thibodeau’s thoughts on taxpayer rights

As a Maine citizen and taxpayer, you have a right to see how your hard-earned tax dollars are being spent. It is crucial that our government be completely open and accountable to avoid waste, fraud and abuse, and to make sure hardworking Mainers aren’t paying a penny more in taxes than is truly needed.

Mainers should be equipped with accurate, up-to-date information about the decisions made in Augusta and exactly what those decisions mean for you, your family, and your wallet. Elected officials have a responsibility to make sure the meeting rooms, checkbooks and file cabinets are open to the public.

There are three key things we can do in Augusta to start making Maine government truly open and accountable to you:

• Government spending at your fingertips

Each and every penny used to fund each and every government program comes from you and your fellow taxpayers. So it stands to reason that taxpayers have a right to see exactly how their money is spent. This doesn’t mean that some government number-cruncher compiles a 400-page report that gets buried in the Statehouse archives. This is about transparency.

I support an easily searchable Web site, updated regularly, that allows you to see how each tax dollar is spent. The Maine Heritage Policy Center has provided a great example and a great place to start with their site, MaineOpenGov.org, but that’s not good enough. Officials who oversee the use of tax dollars should be responsible to accurately and immediately report to the taxpayer how our dollars are spent.

• More muscle for Maine’s Right-to-Know Law

Our government is by, and for, the people. So any information that government has also belongs to the people. In Maine, we have a law that allows you to request and receive all types of government information; from government salaries to legislative voting records, to e-mails sent by and to politicians.

However, the current law is weak. It doesn’t require time limits for government entities to fulfill your request for this public information. In fact, the law only requires that your request be “acknowledged” and eventually fulfilled “in a reasonable amount of time,” which can be months or even longer. We need to strengthen Maine’s Right to Know Law to make sure government cannot stall or stonewall when you ask for information that is rightfully yours.

• Lights, camera, accountability!

You can sit at home and watch on C-SPAN as elected officials in Washington, D.C., make decisions. You should be able to keep just as close an eye on your elected officials here in Maine. You should be able to see from your own livingroom, events such as legislative committee hearings and announcements from the governor.

This will give you the opportunity to keep tabs on your elected officials and give you a front row seat to the important events that have a huge impact on you and your family. With a chance to see things unfold under the dome in Augusta, you will be prepared to hold elected officials accountable for what they say and do, and the votes they cast.

With an open government checkbook, a stronger Right to Know Law, and a window into the Statehouse, the reins of government are handed back to you, the taxpayer.

Mike Thibodeau

State Representative, District 42

State Senate candidate

Winterport