Sunday, April 20, 2014
By BONNIE PORTA
CAPE ELIZABETH - Maine has a well-earned national reputation for producing leaders of unusual distinction. Men and women who can bring people together, who can find solutions to the most difficult problems of the day, who can make peace where before there has been only war.
But in the last few years, that's changed -- especially in Augusta.
The divisive rhetoric and petty antics that have become the hallmarks of Maine's political climate couldn't be more at odds with the way most of us live day to day or the way we expect our political leaders to behave. This is not who we are as a state.
Fortunately, in 2014, Maine will have U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud on the ballot for governor.
Humble and compassionate, with deeply rooted values that are consistent with the Maine way of life, Mike Michaud has built a distinctive track record in the Maine Legislature and in Congress.
He has long been a champion of the working, middle-class people of Maine. He has supported small businesses, passed landmark environmental protections and remained committed to his core values and vision.
He has also demonstrated an increasingly rare capacity to build consensus and earn respect from colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Over the course of his career, he has proven that he can be trusted to put the interests of Mainers first.
Mike Michaud was just 25 years old, working at a mill in East Millinocket, when he first ran for office. Disturbed by the pollution he encountered on the Penobscot River, he took action. Risking his livelihood, he took on the mill owners, standing up for what he believed in. He won the election, helped clean up the river, and continued working at the mill for 22 years while serving as a state legislator.
Maine needs a governor who will take a stand; who will cultivate an economy that helps working people; who will expand access to affordable health care, and who will ensure that all Maine kids get a high-quality public education. These are the priorities of Rep. Mike Michaud.
Mike Michaud also knows that supporting women, children and families plays a key role in strengthening our economy so that everyone can prosper.
That's why he was an early and strong supporter of the Lilly Ledbetter Act, ensuring pay equity for women.
It's also why he supports earned sick days so moms -- and dads -- can stay home with their sick child, and why he has consistently supported increasing the minimum wage so that Mainers who work hard and play by the rules can put food on the table and support their families.
From his start as a young man serving in the Legislature through his time in the United States Congress, he has never stopped learning and he's never stopped listening to the people who he serves.
Early in his public service, Mike cast votes on issues of choice that I disagreed with. But as he has grown as a person and a leader, so has his understanding of the issue.
I trust Mike and know he will do the right thing when it comes to protecting the rights of women to make their own decisions about their bodies.
I care deeply about a woman's right to choose, which is why it's important to know that as governor, Mike will not support any attempt to weaken Maine's Reproductive Privacy Act, which codified the protections of Roe v. Wade in Maine law.
He will also protect women's access to health care -- including birth control -- improve economic opportunity for women and work hard to ensure people can take time off when they have a child or need to care for their sick parents without putting their own economic security at risk.
In 2010, I was one of the Democrats who supported Eliot Cutler's campaign for governor. Along with many other Mainers, I learned some hard but important lessons from that election. The stakes will be even higher in 2014, and we must elect a chief executive who will restore, protect and fight for Maine
Mike Michaud has been a strong voice for working people in Congress. The people of Maine deserve to have a straightforward, respectful person in the Blaine House who represents their values and their way of life.
As a woman, a mother and Maine voter, I believe that Maine needs Mike Michaud. He's the best person for the job.
Bonnie Porta of Cape Elizabeth is the campaign treasurer for Mike Michaud's 2014 gubernatorial campaign. She is married to Robert C.S. Monks, a former investor and current board member of MaineToday Media.