Eleven years ago, I returned to Maine after a 25-year absence. I brought my family, purchased a business and felt at last, once again, I was home.

For the first time in my life, after reading November’s ballot initiatives, I feel unwelcome. I feel that as a business owner, I am no longer wanted. I feel that as an employer, the jobs of my employees aren’t good enough and that if I achieve a measurable degree of success, I will be punished and that my vote at the ballot box will be stricken from the record if others don’t agree with me.

This November, we have ballot issues that punish small independent business owners, ballot issues that remove a leg from the stool of our tourism industry, ballot issues that punish those who are successful, ballot issues that remove the honor in our voting system, ballot issues that make it a crime to hunt with a friend’s shotgun and ballot issues that will eliminate thousands of good-paying jobs.

Oddly, these issues have one thing in common: They remove the independent nature of what it means to be a Mainer. The backers of these referendums want to steal from us that which makes us unique.

Mainers have striking resilience, immeasurable ingenuity and an unparalleled persistence to make our own mark in life.

These ballot issues call for each of us to become nothing more than a copy of each other, no one more successful than the other, no one any different than the other, forcing the majority to rule over and ignore the will of the minority.

These “citizen initiatives” aren’t from citizens. They don’t represent who we are, as Mainers, as independent thinkers or as individuals. We are each different, unique and amazing. Let’s keep it that way.

Matt Mattingly

Gorham