Maine needs rational pot policy, so vote ‘yes’ on Question 1

A ‘yes’ vote says that there is such a thing as responsible, adult use of marijuana. The current law makes criminals out of people who are otherwise law-abiding and dumps millions of dollars into a tax-free black market. Legalization would put low-risk marijuana use on the right side of the law, and focus resources where they are more needed.

Our support for the ballot question does not mean that we consider all use of marijuana to be benign, or that we think its use is appropriate for everyone.

But we are confident that when the Legislature comes back into session, it could address that kind of issue before the law goes into full effect. We have no confidence, however, that lawmakers would take on this task unless the voters pass Question 1 and tell them to do it.

Vote ‘no’ on Question 2: Make Augusta fix schools

At first glance, the issue looks simple. The voters are being asked to levy a 3 percent surtax on adjusted incomes higher than $200,000 a year, and distribute the funds to school districts to supplement current spending.

But nothing about tax policy or school funding is ever simple. Every action has an opposite reaction somewhere else in the system, and something so complex rarely can be resolved with a simple yes-or-no answer.

Vote ‘yes’ on Question 3 to close Maine gun sales loophole

Imagine that there is a bar in your town with two entrances.

At the front door, a bouncer is checking IDs to make sure that no one under the age of 21 gets in. At the back door, customers can come and go as they please, regardless of their ages.

What might such a policy do to keep alcohol away from kids?

That, in essence, is how we enforce the laws around gun sales. Potential customers have a choice: They can buy from a federally licensed firearms dealer, who is required to conduct an instant background check that looks for a history of violent crime or severe mental illness.

Or they can opt for a private sale, where no background check is required.What does that policy do to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them?

‘Yes’ on Question 4: It’s time for Maine to raise minimum wage

The minimum wage has steadily lost value now for nearly 50 years, even as the people who hold low-wage jobs have gotten more educated and productive, more likely to be a family’s breadwinner, and less likely to advance to a better job.

That has left millions of Americans unable to support themselves and their loved ones even while working full-time, and that’s why we are endorsing a yes vote on Question 4 on the Nov. 8 ballot to raise Maine’s minimum wage.

A $12 minimum wage would help thousands of families that have been struggling to get ahead in an economy that produces an increasing number of low-wage, service-sector jobs.

‘Yes’ on Question 5: Ranked-choice voting is right for Maine

(Our current system) puts the largest group of voters, those who are not active as either Democrats or Republicans, in a bind.

They have no say in the selection of a party nominee, but they can’t vote for a third-party candidate without risking a vote for a “spoiler” who fragments opposition and gives an extreme candidate a path to victory.

Campaigns like this become exercises in handicapping, with voters and the media calculating who a third-party candidate “takes” votes from – as if anyone’s vote “belongs” to any candidate – instead of analyzing which person would do the best job.

Ranked-choice voting changes that dynamic. Voters can pick the person they think is the best without giving up the ability to have some say in the choice among the other candidates.

For better roads, more jobs in Maine, vote ‘yes’ on Question 6

It might feel like voters are always being asked to pony up more money for Maine’s roads and bridges. Indeed, in 2012, 2013 and just last year, bonds totaling tens of millions of dollars were approved at the polls.

But those funds are barely sufficient for maintaining the state’s transportation infrastructure – the highways, bridges, ports, railways and paths that allow businesses to move goods, and residents and tourists to travel safely. That’s why we are endorsing a yes vote on Question 6 on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Hillary Clinton is our choice for president

Republicans who can’t stand the idea of helping put Donald Trump in the White House have only one choice, and it’s to swallow hard and vote for Hillary Clinton. Not because they think she would be a good president but because they know Trump would be much, much worse.

And Bernie Sanders supporters who say they could never bring themselves to vote for Clinton have to acknowledge that if they don’t, they will be helping elect someone antithetical to Sanders’ progressive agenda. That will be just as true if they vote for a third-party candidate or leave their ballot blank as if they fill in the oval next to Trump’s name.

There will be a time for them to protest Clinton, but it begins Nov. 9, the day after Election Day, not Nov. 8.

Pingree our choice for 1st Congressional District

Chellie Pingree has shown herself to be a solid match for her district, winning re-election three times by wide margins, even in years like 2010 and 2014, which were bad ones for Democrats. She does that because she is in touch with her constituents and reflects their values.

We can count on Pingree to maintain strong, progressive positions on health care, immigration, gun control, reproductive rights and environmental protection. But her ability to work for her constituents when Congress is mired in partisan extremism is even more impressive.

Vote Emily Cain in 2nd District to make Congress work again

Emily Cain, whose experience in the Maine Legislature as a leader for both the majority and minority party would certainly benefit her in Congress, has been open and forthright about her positions on issues throughout the campaign.

That’s in direct contrast to Bruce Poliquin, who has frequently dodged questions, particularly those related to his party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

It is troubling that Poliquin refuses to say publicly whether he supports Trump, even as Trump has made the 2nd District a focus of his campaign. Trump has exhibited character flaws and a dearth of policy knowledge unprecedented among modern major-party candidates, and Maine residents deserve to hear what the congressman thinks.