Editor’s note: This is the first in an occasional series of columns on business and politics by writers who are not affiliated with a major party.

More than one-third of Maine voters do not belong to a party. That’s a fact. Since 1994, an independent or third-party candidate has run in every gubernatorial election, garnering no less than 6 percent and as much as 35 percent of the vote. Maine has three times elected an independent governor and in 2012, elected an independent U.S. senator.

Yet mainstream political commentary has remained solidly in the hands of partisan pundits.

My advocacy within the state’s mainstream media for a voice from an independent perspective began in 2012 with Angus King’s run for Senate and continued through this last election.

With the 2014 campaign season now behind us, and 2016 already in the headlines, I’m gratified that MaineToday Media is allowing independents to address issues that are crucial to Maine in a non-partisan voice that acknowledges the more than 367,000 Mainers who are unenrolled in a party and who are tired of partisanship.

We want access to affordable health care. We don’t want health care used as a wedge issue. We want an end to welfare fraud. We don’t want welfare fraud used as a political weapon. We want a government that works. We don’t want squabbles on talk radio and cable TV.

It’s increasingly clear that what the partisans want is power and control. That has led to gridlock as each side maneuvers for political advantage for the next election. Solutions – and the citizenry – just have to wait while the parties angle to score the next political point.

Many in the media struggle with the question: “What does unenrolled mean?”

Some tell me they don’t believe either that there is a growing number of independents or that they vote in numbers great enough to matter. But there is and they do.

In a 2013 Gallup poll, 42 percent of the country no longer identifies with a party. That staggering number is at a 25-year high and its growth is something we should all be talking about whether we are a member of a party or not.

For the media, classifying people – Democrat, Republican or independent – is a challenge. Having spoken to many reporters, I’ve heard them say they know what a Democrat and Republican stands for – that the independent doesn’t fit into the same mold.

And to that I answer: Absolutely right – that’s the point. I think most people would agree that what we want most from all of our elected officials is for them to do what’s in the best interests of the people – no matter how hard it is, no matter which special interest group they may upset, no matter the strain of the next campaign – no matter what.

So what is an independent? Independents may sometimes vote with one of the parties just as, if given a good independent choice, they vote for candidates who are unaffiliated.

The people I talk to say they want to vote in the best interest of Maine and the country and the labels simply don’t matter to them.

I have many friends dedicated to both political parties, hardworking men and women who love this state and this country. Their party membership is an important affiliation for them. They have organized, beaten the bushes, and practically shed blood, sweat, and tears for their respective candidates. Being a member of a party doesn’t have to mean being a partisan.

But unfortunately, party leaders and their mouthpieces on MSNBC or Fox News perpetuate the dogma that they, and only they, are the source of good ideas and sound policy.

To look outside the party for solutions is anathema.

One close friend with significant ties to a party at the national level told me: “The political system will work again if we reform the party structure from within.”

I, and other independents, agree with my friend that the party structure is broken. But we disagree with thinking it can be fixed.

We believe the entire two-party system is broken. We believe that only a wholesale shift in thinking – and voting – will begin to cure the ills associated with the blind adherence to party ideology.

It is imperative that we look and listen to voices outside the parties, as so many voters already have done, not only in Maine but also across the country. It’s a conversation whose time has come.