Paul Gray of Oxbow, Maine, sits to fill out his ballot at the community center — once an old one-room schoolhouse — in this 2016 file photo. Credit: Micky Bedell

Cote offers new path for Democrats

With seven candidates in the Democratic primary for governor, there is a candidate for every preference. And while all seven agree on the broad outlines of policy — universal health care, a strong safety net, restrictions on gun purchases, restoring civility in Augusta — they differ on how such policies would be enacted.

We recommend that Adam Cote, a businessman and veteran, be Democrats top pick.

Janet Mills has a strong resume and, as attorney general, has served as a responsible check on some of Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s worst — and sometimes unconstitutional and illegal — impulses, such as removing young adults from the state’s Medicaid program.

Mark Eves, a family therapist and more progressive candidate, was House Speaker during the early years of the LePage administration, offering a counter to the governor’s push to cut spending and reduce services.

Democrats, however, have a long record of backing candidates who fit the party mold and who are deemed to be next in line. This has not been a path to electoral success.

Cote offers something different.

As a 20-year member of the Maine Army National Guard, Cote served three overseas deployments, in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, earning the Bronze Star for his leadership in Afghanistan.

Cote, who works as a renewable energy consultant, would bring innovative approaches, such as his human capital investment fund and a focus on return on investment and program effectiveness measures to state spending decisions, to state government.

Others in the race are: Betsy Sweet, an advocate and lobbyist; Mark Dion, a state senator and former Cumberland County sheriff; Diane Russell, a former state representative; and Donna Dion, a former Biddeford mayor and school committee chair.

In GOP primary that leaves out moderates, Moody is top pick

This year’s Republican primary for governor is an extreme example of our divided government and society. All four candidates are racing to the right, portraying themselves as the best person to emulate the divisive governor.

While Mary Mayhew served as commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services aid to poor families was cut and hunger increased, the state’s public mental health facility lost its federal accreditation and thousands of calls to a child protection hotline went unanswered.

Ken Fredette, the Republican leader in the Maine House of Representatives, is best known for shutting down state government. Last month, he convinced his Republican colleagues to end the legislative session, despite reams of unfinished business, rather than negotiate a resolution with other legislative leaders.

Garrett Mason, the Senate majority leader, has a consistent record of conservatism. But his restrictive views on marriage, abortion and immigration are cause for concern.

Shawn Moody, owner of a car repair business in southern Maine, ran as an independent candidate for governor in 2010 and only recently joined the Republican Party, raising questions about where he stands on important issues. However, his emphasis on education, especially vocational education, as both a pathway out of poverty and an important tool in growing Maine’s trained workforce can be a foundation for other state entities and for other partnerships between the state and private businesses.

Among this disappointing slate of candidates that leaves out moderates, Moody is a worthy contender for Republicans’ top ranking on the June 12 ballot.

St. Clair’s monument experience gives him edge

Jared Golden, assistant majority leader in the Maine House of Representatives and a veteran of the Marine Corps, and Lucas St. Clair, who runs his family foundation, was instrumental in creating the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, are formidable candidates who bring strong, but very different, skills to the race to challenge 2nd District Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin. The third candidate, Craig Olson, is a bookseller from Islesboro with a record of local public service.

We believe that St. Clair is the best choice in this Democratic primary.

After his mother’s plan to create a national park in the north Maine woods was met with strong opposition, St. Clair took over the job of working to convince Mainers that it was a good idea. He he met with hundreds of people, many of them adamantly opposed to the idea and not afraid to let St. Clair know it. He improved the plan based on these meetings.

In August 2016, then-President Barack Obama declared more than 87,000 acres that the foundation had donated to the federal government as the state’s first national monument. It has been the biggest economic development boost to the region in recent memory.

After serving in the Marine Corps and working for Sen. Susan Collins in Washington, Golden was elected to the Maine Legislature in 2014 and quickly rose to a leadership role, where he earned the respect and praise of fellow lawmakers while introducing legislation to improve rail service, to lower prescription drug costs and, especially, to support Maine veterans.

We believe St. Clair’s work with diverse groups to create a national monument gives him the edge in the Democratic primary for Maine’s 2nd District.

No on Question 1

Maine voters, in November 2016, approved ranked-choice voting for future elections. The new voting system allows voters to rank their choices, rather than voting for just one candidate, when there are three or more candidates in a race. Backers of ranked-choice voting say this will lead to better candidates running for office, less nasty campaigns and less grumbling after an election.

However, it isn’t constitutional for all Maine elections, according to an advisory opinion from the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. It can’t be used for state general election races, such as this November’s election for governor.

This is a recipe for confusion and increased frustration among the very voters who were hopeful that ranked-choice voting would improve election outcomes. This has allowed Republicans to repeatedly challenge it in court and for lawmakers to drag their feet, further adding to the confusion.

We understand the difficulty of amending the Constitution — the Legislature, by a two-thirds vote in both chambers, must agree to send an amendment to Maine voters for their approval. However, we strongly believe that Maine’s voting system should be fully constitutional and consistent for all state elections. That’s why we oppose Question 1.

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