The only people politicians should ever owe any favors to are their constituents.

Not wealthy special interests.

Not lobbyists.

Not rich campaign contributors.

That was always my belief when I served as a Republican State Senator in the Maine Legislature and it continues to be my belief today, which is one of the reasons why I am such a strong supporter of Question 1 on November’s ballot.

It’s also why I was disappointed to see Al Diamon’s recent column that included glaring inaccuracies about Question 1 and misrepresented the important role Question 1 will play in increasing transparency and accountability in our elections so we truly have a government that is of, by and for the people of Maine.

Few would disagree with the fact that spending on elections is out of control.

Because of recent changes at the state and federal level that have weakened campaign finance laws and opened the floodgates for large amounts of undisclosed money to flow into our political system, wealthy special interests and their lobbyists are dominating the election process.

Question 1 on November’s ballot gives Mainers an opportunity to change that by putting control of elections back in the hands of the voters.

It’s a common-sense reform bill – that’s supported by Democrats, Republicans, Greens and independents throughout the state – that will limit the influence of wealthy special interest in our elections and ensure that politicians are accountable to us – the people.

It does this by making some much-needed changes to our current election and campaign laws.

First, it increase fines and penalties for those who break our election laws so that politicians are accountable to everyday Mainers – not wealthy special interests, corporations and their lobbyists who make big campaign contributions.

Second, it will demand transparency and shine a light on special interest money in our elections by requiring outside groups spending money in support or against candidates to list their top three funders on any ads they buy. Bottom line, we deserve to know where politicians get their money. Following the money and knowing who’s paying for ads allows us to spot corruption and conflicts of interest so that we can hold our representatives accountable.

And third, it will encourage strict campaign spending and contribution limits by restoring funding to Maine’s Clean Election system so that candidates can run for office without being beholden to wealthy special interests and corporations.

It does all of this without raising taxes on any individual or family in Maine.

Like most Mainers, I believe we deserve politicians who are working for us – the people. But, when politicians depend on contributions from the wealthy, lobbyists, and special interest groups – they work for them, and the priorities that matter to everyday people get ignored.

Question 1 will put government back in the hands of Mainers, so that politicians will focus on the issues that matter to us, like education and creating jobs.

This November Mainers have a choice to make. We can either continue down the road of unlimited amounts of undisclosed big money influencing our elections, where people are so cynical that they have lost faith in the political system and think that their voice and vote do not count and cannot compete with big money special interests. Or, we can stand together and stand up to big money special interests by voting yes on Question 1 and putting control of election where it belongs – in the hands of Maine voters.

To me the choice is simple. I urge you to vote yes on Question 1.

Ed Youngblood, of Brewer, is a former state representative.

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