There is little doubt that Mainers believe their political system is defective. It seems anything that comes out of Augusta these days is met with pessimism. In fact, in the last nine months on the campaign trail, I have met people who were unsure if they would even vote on Nov. 8. These feelings aren’t unwarranted. People are tired, frustrated and angry that Augusta isn’t getting much done.
I agree, and that is why I decided to run to represent District 10 in the Maine Senate. But something I’ve come to realize over these last nine months on the campaign trail is that pessimism has a way of permeating beyond politics. By focusing on everything Maine is getting wrong, we lose sight of what we do incredibly right and how much more we could accomplish.
My sense of optimism has been renewed thanks to meeting hundreds of hardworking Mainers through this campaign. From Hampden to Newport, Glenburn to Etna, I could tell a unique story about each person I’ve met. But what’s most powerful is that everyone I talk to is determined to work hard, contribute and make a good life for themselves and their families.
Our elected officials should empower these qualities rather than breed cynicism. I believe Augusta has lost sight of this, and people there are too caught up in the game of politics. Partisan victories trump common-sense policy, and special interests from out of state influence our leaders through political contributions, including to my opponent in this race.
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The first and continuing priority needs to be the people who elect us.
Take Elaine, who I met in July. Elaine is 69 years old, a survivor of stage 4 cancer and a full-time single grandmother to a 5-year-old. Strength, resolve and fortitude are what characterize her, as well as the fact that she is barely scraping by financially.
Or how about Matt, one of the many young farmers I have had the pleasure of meeting. Matt was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and faces treatment that costs more than $1,000 per month. Naturally, his top concern is controlling rising health care costs.
We should rally around Mainers like Elaine and Matt, and Augusta should do better for them by creating a comprehensive vision for Maine’s future, one that allows Mainers to take pride in their state. After all, Maine is the forerunner in the likes of shipbuilding, fishing, manufacturing and forestry. This proud past proves our potential is limitless.
Through this campaign I have learned most everyone has something they are willing to contribute, and that Mainers are tenacious when it comes to getting the job done. These are probably the greatest things an economy can harness.
That is why I will support continuous investment in our state’s technical schools, community colleges and universities. Skills-centered jobs still are the gateway to the middle class, and we need a viable workforce in order to attract good companies. But we must be deliberate with our investments, which is why I would advocate for more strategic coordination between the Department of Education and the departments of Labor and Economic and Community Development.
I will also work to curb Maine’s drug epidemic. We need a plan that includes education and treatment, law enforcement and a continued funding mechanism. Otherwise, drug addiction will drain our economy and weaken our families and communities.
And I will work to defend the towns that make up District 10 from policy that shifts cost burdens onto the backs of small communities. Property taxes are too high while essential services get cut. Better state policy can help put more money back into the pockets of hardworking Mainers. Government must do better.
I’m not running because I have all the answers, but because I love my community and am prepared to earnestly help government do better. Listening and learning from those in this district has been an honor, and I’m ready to work hard, keep listening and give people a little more faith in politics again.
Dennis Marble is running as an independent for Maine Senate District 10. He is a Hampden town councilor and served as the executive director of the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter for 20 years.