Forecaster columnist Edgar Allen Beem has sunken to a new low with his recent personal attack on Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew (“Mary Mayhew’s war on the poor”), which weaved mention of her early life and family into criticisms of her policy proposals while DHHS commissioner.

Beem’s primary complaint seems to be that once a Democrat, Commissioner Mayhew has since become a Republican through her advocacy of welfare reform. I have news for Mr. Beem. She’s not the only one-time Democrat who feels their party is increasingly out of touch with reality when it comes to one of the major issues facing our state and indeed our nation: our prolific welfare spending and the culture of generational dependency it creates. As a matter of fact, I am also a former Democrat.

To make it worse, Beem can’t even get his facts straight. He falsely stated that Riverview Psychiatric Recovery Center has lost federal funding under Mayhew’s watch, when it has not.

Having worked closely with Commissioner Mayhew for four years, I can say firsthand that she is motivated to realign our social safety net to help the most vulnerable and frail people for whom it was originally created. That’s why she has helped Gov. Paul LePage reduce welfare spending on the able-bodied in order to increase funding to nursing homes and homecare services for the severely disabled and elderly.

I think most Mainers would agree that DHHS cannot be all things to all people, and the LePage-Mayhew reforms are long overdue.

Maine Rep. Heather Sirocki,