Courier Publications reporters and editors came up with a list of questions for candidates based in part on concerns raised by members of the public in "Heard on the Street" interviews. The questions were posed to candidates via email.

State Sen. Cynthia Ann Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth is seeking election to the U.S. Senate, to fill a seat being vacated by Sen. Olympia Snowe.

Dill, a civil lawyer, is running against former Gov. Angus King, an independent from Brunswick and Secretary of State Charlie Summers Jr., a Republican from Scarborough, among others.

Why are you running?

I want to make a difference, and believe it is time for a new generation of leadership in Washington. The U.S Senate needs younger people, diversity, and a middle class working mother in touch with the challenges of Maine families who will fight for jobs, affordable quality health care, education and a government that works for people and small business.

What changes, if any, would you propose or support to federal programs providing health coverage and disability benefits to citizens, including Medicare, Medicaid and social security?

I support Medicare for all, and will fiercely protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — vitally important social insurance programs.

Social Security is one of America’s signature achievements that allow seniors a modicum of security in their retirement, and Medicare and Medicaid provide necessary health care and nursing home services. Every working American has paid into these programs over the course of their working lives, and they need to be strengthened by raising the income cap, and containing the explosive cost of health care.

I would not consider cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. These social insurance programs, part of the New Deal, are the very foundation of economic security for middle class Americans. They should be strengthened, not gutted. There are more responsible ways to balance the budget and reduce the debt.

Do you support a government program to create a single-payer universal health care program, or do you feel these services would be better provided in the private sector? Can you explain your position on national health care?

Yes, I am the only candidate who supports a single-payer universal health care program. In the short run, full implementation of President Obama's Affordable Care Act is key. Millions are already benefiting from the law. Seniors on fixed incomes are saving money on prescriptions and checkups. Insurance companies can no longer set arbitrary lifetime caps on benefits that put millions of Americans one car accident or heart attack away from bankruptcy. As a U.S. Senator next year, I will work to develop a pilot project for a national single-payer system, while strengthening the ACA, and to reform the current fee for service system that creates the wrong incentives.

We need to decouple the health care system from American businesses.

What changes would you propose or support when it comes to tax policies?

We need to reduce the debt and deficit without destroying the middle class in this county.

I support the president’s proposal to extend the so-called Bush tax cuts to everyone up to $250,000, but repeal them on income above $250,000.

I support the equalization of taxation on capital and labor, a financial transaction tax, and eliminating subsidies for the gas and oil industry and other mammoth corporations that don’t pay their fair share.

I oppose the elimination of the home mortgage tax deduction, and balancing the budget on the backs of middle class and working Maine families and seniors.

I support the Main Street Fairness Act, which will level the playing field for Maine small businesses.

What is your position on women's health issues including insurance coverage for contraceptives and the option of having abortions to terminate unwanted pregnancies?

I support a woman's right to reproductive freedom and will vote against any statutory or constitutional measure that would repeal or reduce any currently existing reproductive rights or freedoms, or which jeopardize or degrade the confidential relationship between a patient and her doctor. I will vote to reauthorize the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act — the law which makes money and resources available to sheriffs and small town police departments to investigate and prosecute domestic violence cases.

Conservatives have been trying to dictate medical decisions to women seeking an abortion, defund Planned Parenthood, cut funding for prenatal services and repeal Obamacare, the law that, among other things, prevents insurers from charging women higher rates. I will vigorously defend against these attacks on women’s rights.

What would you do about the ongoing presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan? Do you support the planned withdrawal?

In June 2011, President Obama pledged to bring home 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2011 and to withdraw an additional 23,000 troops by September 2012. I support bringing a substantial number of U.S. combat troops home from Afghanistan according to the timeline proposed by President Obama.

It is time to end the war and transition to sustainable peace.

What should we as a nation do for veterans returning from Afghanistan and other war zones?

I thank all our veterans for their service and commitment to our country. That is why I am such an ardent supporter of President Obama's Affordable Care Act, which will help veterans with health care and the President's veterans jobs bill that was stopped in the U.S. Senate by the Republicans. These are important policy changes that President Obama needs support in the U.S. Senate to achieve. I will make this a top priority as Maine's next U.S. Senator.

It's unconscionable that Congress failed to pass the Veterans’ Job Corps bill recently. President Obama endorsed the legislation which had bipartisan support. But in the end, claiming the bill cost too much, nearly all of the Senate Republicans gave the veteran's jobs bill a big thumbs down. Passage of the legislation right then and there, would have provided veterans with a package of services and job training programs, including the creation of a pilot program for 'One-Stop Centers' to help veterans search for jobs and jobs for veterans in conservation and historic preservation projects on public lands. Veterans would have opportunities to become police officers and firefighters.

I have a track record of supporting veterans as a state senator — supporting the Veteran’s Court, among other measures — and will never stray from my support for our vets who so richly deserve to live good lives after serving our country and keeping all Americans safe.

What do you think should be done to stimulate the economy and job growth?

Simply stated, we must end tax cuts for millionaires, billionaires and big corporations; build and improve our national infrastructure; and invest in high-quality public education, from birth through college.

R&D investments must also be a priority of the next Congress, and public private partnerships encouraged. Government must use science and facts to solve some of society's problems including climate change. The federal government has a major role in research since companies are more focused on their core and day-to-day operations. Once a concept is invented, such as the Internet and space travel, we see what free enterprise does — it takes that new opportunity and grows in myriad ways no single entity could have imagined. Both have important roles.

I am committed to Fair Trade. As U.S. Senator one priority will be to shine light on the negotiation process. Right now corporate lobbyists negotiate deals behind closed doors that are not in the public interest, and have resulted in too many manufacturing jobs going overseas. I support the president’s bill to provide tax incentives to companies that bring jobs back to America, and stop rewarding the off shoring of the U.S. middle class.

Today the American worker is under siege. My Italian grandmother worked at Full Flex Rubber Corporation for more than 40 years on the third shift. She was a member of the executive board for the United Rubber Workers Union. The Union allowed my grandmother, a woman of meager means in the 1950s and 1960s, to enjoy the bounty of a middle-class life.

Today the national Republican Party is working hard to diminish workers right. Unions and public pensions are being blamed for budget shortfalls in many states, including Maine. I will support unions, because they lift the middle class.

When the 2012 presidential race is actually framed as a contest between the upper 1 percent of the wealthiest Americans and the 99 percent of the rest of us, we realize we need unions more than ever. As Governor of Maine, Angus King vetoed many worker protection bills that I, as a legislator, have wholeheartedly supported. King vetoed laws to raise the minimum wage, expand Maine's Family and Medical Leave, and fund Meals on Wheels law. The list of bills passed to help the poor and working families is long.

As a lawmaker, Charlie Summers failed to back the very same worker protection bills, and the Secretary of State repealed same-day voter registration. As the next U.S. Senator from Maine I will fight to preserve worker's rights, including voting and collective bargaining rights, not diminish them.

What should be done about the national deficit?

The debt and and deficit was caused by the Bush tax cuts, unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the collapse of Wall Street. We need to restore tax fairness, responsibly reduce unnecessary military spending without threatening national security, and hold Wall Street accountable by reasonable regulation and the imposition of the Financial Transaction Tax.

Can you explain what role, if any, you feel the government should play in providing higher education to low income and middle income high school graduates concerned about the cost of school loans?

The United States Government should insure that every child has an equal opportunity to succeed, equal treatment under the law, and that public education and child care is adequately funded.

At a time when too many are unemployed, our country is challenged to fill job openings with workers who have 21st-century skills. Public education has never been more important to our children, our economy and our nation.

All Maine families deserve access to quality, public, early childhood care and education, including preventative health care and proper nutrition.

We need to address the problem of college affordability, and student debt, because it's negatively affecting the economic futures of a generation. I support funding Pell grants and the G.I. Bill, the prosecution of unscrupulous lenders who are preying on our kids, and programs that will allow the repayment of college loans to be based on a percentage of income, to encourage public service jobs.

The federal government should require states to ensure comprehensive, meaningful evaluation systems developed collaboratively by educators and administrators in each local district.

What is your position on the environment? What specific policies would you support in balancing the needs of the environment with the needs of industry and the economy?

I have always been an environmentalist. I believe we must invest in renewable, sustainable energy, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, eliminate and label toxic chemicals, and protect our wilderness and open spaces.

Unlike my opponents, I oppose the Keystone XL pipeline because excavating one of the world's dirtiest fuels, tar sands oil, and transporting the toxic residue through America, to be shipped overseas, is an enormous environmental risk. It won't create economic prosperity at home.

I support studying the feasibility of a Maine Woods National Park. The gift of 70,000 acres of private land, with a $40 million endowment to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service will create jobs and diversify Maine's economy.

I support the president's initiative to raise the average automotive fuel economy standards to 50-plus miles per gallon during the next several years, and generally applaud all local initiatives to source our energy closer to home with new investments in tidal, solar, bio-mass and wind power. These are next generation innovations. America should lead, crating high-tech paying jobs in the process.

Where do you stand on campaign financing?

I support two reform proposals currently circulating in Congress:

The Fair Elections Now Act, which would establish a public funding system for federal elections and outline eligibility and contribution requirements, as well as prohibitions such as those on joint fundraising committees.

The Disclose Act, which seeks to increase transparency of corporate and special interest money in national political campaigns by requiring organizations involved in political campaigning to disclose the identity of the large donors, and to reveal their identities in any political ads they fund.

Do you support allowing gay marriage?

Yes. As a member of the Maine House, I was proud to vote for the law, making Maine the first state in the region to legalize marriage equality. It was repealed, moving Maine backward. I will work on behalf of my friends, neighbors and colleagues in the LGBT community to ensure the passage of the measure again this November.

Summers and King haven't pledged to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA. I have. On day one I will work to repeal DOMA, which is a federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. That law discriminates against gay couples. And it's wrong. And we need to change it. The Democratic Party stands for civil rights. We fight for civil rights. No qualifiers.

I applauded the Democratic Party's recent decision to include marriage equality in its national platform. For the first time, a sitting president has declared his support for gay marriage and the first time a major political party — the Democratic Party — included marriage equality in its platform.

Can you tell us a little bit about your family? Are you married with children or grandchildren?

I am 47 years old and happily married to Tom Clarke, who is a high school math teacher at Thornton Academy in Saco. My daughter Isabel is a sophomore, and son Harrison is a senior at Cape Elizabeth High School. Marley is our 3-year-old yellow lab.