I have to admit, I’m a little baffled by the reelection strategy of Gov. Mills’ team. Some recent decisions are making it really hard for me – and many other Democrats – to break out the blue pom-poms for this year’s election.

For example, in this year’s legislative session, we had a real chance to go back and right some of the wrongs that were perpetrated against the tribes in Maine. After more than 40 years, reform of the 1980 Land Claims Act (a bad-faith agreement governing the relationship between the state of Maine and the Wabanaki people, affecting their sovereignty and status) finally received support in the Legislature.

Tens of thousands of community members supported this reform, as well as Maine’s congressional delegation. Maine tribes were poised to finally be on equal footing with so many other federally recognized tribes around the country – but Gov. Mills said she’d vote “no,” stopping all progress.

As the first Native woman elected to Portland’s City Council, I cannot express how disheartening and disappointing this was. Why is the governor continuing to work against – not with – the tribes in Maine?

Meanwhile, there is a humanitarian crisis in the largest city in our state: Portland is attempting to house and care for nearly 1,800 people, mostly adults and children seeking asylum.

Portland’s leadership – including my colleagues on the City Council, city staff and our representatives in Augusta and Washington – have worked tirelessly for months to ensure that these newcomers aren’t forced to live on the streets, but we can’t do it alone: We need the support of surrounding communities, as well as the state.

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But the governor has largely ignored this crisis. The state’s Office of Emergency Management can and should be called in (perhaps with assistance from the Maine National Guard) to coordinate a resettlement effort shared between cities, counties and other levels of government.

Portland had been told by the governor’s office that there will be no state-coordinated effort. Now, after getting a letter Friday from 79 nonprofits and community organizations calling for state coordination, the governor’s office is saying it will review and consider the groups’ recommendations.

Action, if any, by the governor will be long overdue. This crisis cannot – and should not – fall on a single municipality, and yet almost daily we on the City Council hear about another failure of our governor to step up.

And if that were not enough, the LGBTQ+ community is the latest to be thrown under the bus.

We know that the Maine Republican Party has made the LGBTQ+ community a target. Just recently, they added explicitly anti-LGBTQ+ language to their platform. So we, as Democrats, should want to support, uplift and protect that community – right?

Apparently not. Instead, Gov. Mills – with astounding speed – decided that an educational video intended to teach our youngest learners about the freedoms won by the LGBTQ+ community is inappropriate for children. And why? Because former Gov. Paul LePage’s campaign said so in a television ad.

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No age is too young to learn about the importance of acceptance, tolerance and the freedom to be who you are. I have four kiddos who have gone through public school, who hold biracial identities. One is a trans child. What lesson should they learn from the pulling of this video?

Part of being a leader is standing up for the things we hold to be true, even when it’s difficult. We believe in love, equity, freedom, reproductive justice, racial justice, the right to food and shelter. We proclaim that our LGBTQ+ neighbors should have the same rights as everyone else, that Black Lives Matter, that science is real and that health care is a human right. We acknowledge that we live on land stolen from sovereign tribes.

And we believe in educating our children to be better than we are, and leaving them a world that’s better than we found it.

I am proud of this platform. Our Democratic governor should be, too, and should be working to make it a reality.


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