SOUTH PORTLAND — On this day, we celebrate Presidents Day and the birthdays of two great leaders – George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Most of us will get some much-needed time off from school or work. Along with the chance to catch up on home repairs and paperwork, I will use it to reflect on what it takes to make this democracy of ours work.

It is a great honor to serve in the Maine House of Representatives. I am proud to serve alongside people from all walks of life from every corner of the state. Most of us hold other jobs, and full-time professional politicians are not the norm. Maine has a true citizen Legislature, and many of us won our seats using Maine’s first-in-the-nation Clean Election system.

Clean Elections does just what it was meant to do. It takes out the part of elections that results in politicians who are beholden to donors. It means that no lobbyist can hold a contribution over me as I weigh legislation. It puts a premium on small-dollar contributions from individuals within a candidate’s own district.

In short, Clean Elections allows your elected representatives to represent you in the State House, and that is a good thing.

President Lincoln summed up the essence of our system of government in his Gettysburg Address. In dedicating that famous Civil War battlefield, he implored all of us to make sure we honored those who gave their lives. He asked us to make sure that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The way I see it, those elected to the Maine Legislature go to Augusta for one reason, and that is to serve the people. That’s what it is about. But, in Maine, not all of the lawmaking is done inside the State House. Here, citizens are also able to act as legislators by engaging in the citizen initiative process and bringing new legislation directly to voters.


Last year, Maine people brought forward a new citizen initiative to strengthen Clean Elections and increase both transparency and accountability in our election laws. The measure passed with a 10-point margin of victory on Election Day and went into effect a few weeks later. Now, Maine voters have every right to expect timely implementation of this new law.

Surprisingly, there is talk in the State House of blocking certain parts of it. In my view, that attitude disrespects the will of voters. Maine citizens went through a grueling process to create this legislation, and our job as lawmakers is to honor that by fully implementing and funding the newly strengthened law.

I call upon all of my fellow legislators to follow the lead of Maine voters, who spoke loud and clear. They want a campaign finance system that reduces the influence of private money on lawmakers, allows people from all walks of life to run and provides greater transparency and accountability. They created and passed a law that will do these things, and it is our obligation as elected leaders to ensure its faithful implementation.

Maine’s Clean Election system can deliver results for Maine people, but only if it remains strong. The ink is barely dry on the newly enacted law. Maine people deserve the chance to use it.

There will be time to evaluate it and hone it if necessary. But right now, the Maine Legislature must make sure that citizens have the chance to test-drive their new law. That means that all of its provisions, including the funding it provides, must be in place for the 2016 elections.

If we believe in government of, by and for Maine people, then we must respect the outcome of the November election and fully execute the new Clean Elections law. I stand firmly with Maine voters who made it crystal clear that they want a robust, fully funded Clean Election system.


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