I am a longtime progressive advocate, entrepreneurial business woman, and, most importantly a Mom of 3 fabulous daughters. I have worked at the state house for 35 years advocating for ordinary, extraordinary Maine people and making sure their voices are at the policy making tables. Over the years that has meant working on behalf of women, children, people with behavioral health issues, addiction challenges, mental and physical disabilities, protecting the environment, helping with alternative health approaches of midwives, acupuncturists, naturopaths – allowing us access to things other than corporate health care as we achieve single payer health care. I did the research and helped write the first Clean Elections law in Maine, and in the country and the same with the first Family Medical Leave Act – the law that lets people care for their loved ones without losing their jobs. I am the “Sweet Spot” between an ordinary mom – trying to get health care, pay for my kids college tuition and my property taxes, and someone who knows how to get things done in the system, but is not part of the system that is so broken.
The Democratic side of the field is gaining in numbers and more are expected to join the race. Why are you the Democratic party’s best chance against the Republicans in the General Election?
First, because I will be the first Governor in the country to be elected as a Clean Elections Candidate. As a CE candidate I, and my team of volunteers will be out canvassing doors in Maine from Kittery to Ft. Kent – and we will be listening to people’s hopes, dreams, fears, frustrations, and then involving them in the solutions that make Maine the best state in the country. The people closest to the problem are closest to the solution – and we are so far away from that now. I am what I am. When people talk with me they know they are getting the real deal – and what I really think – not what a pollster told me to say. I am a listener, a bold, creative thinker , I have spent a life time bringing people together – and I am the most enthusiastic, hopeful, and fun one in the bunch – on any side!
You have said that “Maine needs to elect a Governor who answers to regular Maine folks.” Can you give one example of how our current Governor didn’t listen to regular Mainers and what you would have done differently?
That’s too easy – there are too many examples. Let’s start with the most obvious – I would NOT have worked to overturn and undo every single referendum that the Maine voters approved in November. Maine people matter. What they think matters. Voters count. Period. I would have honored what they voted on.
Most people view “lobbyists” as a dirty word. What do you say to people that try to use your history of advocating as a negative?
Yes, I will be posting a lot of my positions on issues and also my values and how I approach an issue. Meanwhile, people can give us their emails, follow us on FaceBook (Sweet for Governor) and Instagram and Twitter – (Sweet4Governor) – and a lot of what I stand for will be reflected there. But check back soon!
What do you think is the biggest challenge that Democrats face across the state and nationwide? And how do we fix that problem?
We need to be relevant to people’s lives. We need to listen. We need to stand for things – and let people know our ideas and creative solutions. We have to ask the right question – not “who is to blame” but “how do we fix this”? . We need to have bold, out of the box ideas that come from the people who are living the problem. We need to fight Citizens United and the corrupting influence of money in politics by running and electing Clean Elections Candidates. We need to widen our circle – make our table big enough for a diversity of opinions and a diversity of strategies. We need to get back to the grass roots organizing that keeps us grounded in the reality of the lives of the people we represent. Here in Maine and everywhere.
What are your thoughts on Ranked Choice Voting being current law but facing upcoming challenges of implementation, constitutionality and use for the 2018 Governor race?
As I’ve said, I have advocated on behalf of regular Maine folks for over 35 years. I have seen first hand what the impact of money in politics is. I did the research in 1992 that led to, and then helped write the first law in 1996. The impact now is even worse. Big money and the lobbyists it buys blocks progress on so many things Mainers care about and need – health care, prescription drugs that are affordable, renewable/affordable energy – to name just a few. And it’s on both sides of the aisle. It is not as simple and straight forward as “buying a vote” – but it buys access, gets a seat at the table for both strategy and policy making. It’s a ticket to those back rooms. And it is so limiting in terms of policy idease and development that reflects Mainer’s lives. Just this past session I watched solar energy, affordable generic drugs, and mental health services for people in jail all ultimately fail because of the influence of money. We have an opportunity to change that. To really bring about huge change to a very broken system. It seems that if there were ever a time that people are ready to say “ENOUGH” this is it… no more incremental tweaking at things – but to really cut off the special interests at the knees. And imagine having a Governor whose only special interest is the people of Maine. When I am elected as a Clean Elections candidate… it will not only fundamentally change Maine politics, but it will change national politics – forever.
What has to happen for you to be able to qualify for public funding via Clean Elections?
It’s a tough climb – as it should be. First I have to raise “seed money” to get the campaign going and to prove I have enough support to warrant receiving public money. That’s the phase we are in now – I have to raise between $40,000-$200,000 in individual contributions in increments of $100 or less. So where as a big money candidate can make one call and get $1,600 – I have to make 16 or more calls for that same amount. That’s where I am now. Then in October I have to get Maine registered voters to start giving $5 contributions to the Clean Elections Fund (not me) and get 3200 signatures to qualify and get initial public funding. Then after every additional 800 people give $5 and sign I can receive additional funding up to a total of 1 million in the primary and 2 million more in the general election – but to do so mutate get a total of 16,000 people signing on and giving $5 – . This is huge lift – but think that when we are done we will have personally talked to 16,000 people. It will also likely leave us at a monetary disadvantage to privately funded candidates, but I believe that the grass roots organizing will make up for it – in a way that has integrity and honor for the Maine people.
Any final thoughts or comments? And where can readers go to find more information or support you?