A voice for Maine’s working families

By Emery Deabay, Special to the BDN
Posted Aug. 07, 2012, at 7:47 p.m.

When I was a young man, my grandfather used to tend the gates of the roads for what is now the North Maine Woods. I spent weeks with him wandering through the working forest of northern Maine. As I grew up, I learned to hunt and fish from Ashland to Allagash. These are some of my most cherished memories, and I think my experience is not unique, because many others grew up with the same wonderful opportunities in the Maine woods.

Today, I work in the paper mill in Bucksport, where I have worked for 37 years. My father worked for over 40 years in the paper industry until his retirement 8 years ago. I take great pride in working in an industry that has sustained my family and so many others in Maine.

We need to make smart decisions now and move forward to ensure Maine’s working forest, which has been integral to the Maine economy, is sustained for generations of loggers, papermakers, guides, hunters and fishers coming after us.

This is just one of the reasons I am running for the state Senate in District 31. This district includes Maine communities across Penobscot and Hancock counties. People of these towns, including my hometown of Bucksport, are looking for new leadership in Augusta.

I decided run for Senate because I watched the most recent Legislature make decisions that were not in the best interest of the working families of Maine. It became very clear to me that the everyday, hardworking people of Maine do not have enough of a voice in Augusta, while big insurance companies, big banks and big corporations are always well represented.

The current Legislature passed a bill that will make health insurance more expensive for older Mainers and people that live in rural towns. They passed a bill that will deny coverage to our most severely injured workers when they get hurt at work. I watched as promises were broken and the state raided teachers’ and state workers’ pensions to give tax breaks to the richest Mainers. Time and time again decisions were made that will only put more pressure on our communities, require cost shifts and will result in increased property taxes.

Our economy is struggling now because average, working people can’t make ends meet. Many Mainers have to work two or three jobs to pay bills and feed their families. On average, wages are lower than they have been in the past. Fewer workers have benefits, and many simply can’t afford health insurance and are left with hefty medical bills they can’t pay. We need to focus on creating good-paying jobs in Maine that put money in workers’ pockets. This will strengthen our local economies, bolster struggling small businesses and put us back on the track of prosperity for many, not just a few.

The LePage administration and his friends in the Legislature have recklessly given tax breaks to the wealthiest Mainers while cutting teachers’ and state workers’ retirements. It’s time for the richest among us to pay their fair share. It’s not right that the governor is giving out tax cuts to the rich while the middle class feels the squeeze.

We need someone in Augusta to speak up for the hardworking people of Maine. If you work at a convenience store or a big-box store I will be your voice. If you are a woodcutter, farmer or fisherman, I will be your voice. If you work for our state, towns or school districts, I will be your voice. If you are a millworker, nurse or construction worker, I will be your voice. If you are disenfranchised and need help, I will be your voice.

It’s time for Maine workers to have a voice in Augusta, and I am ready to go to the State House and speak up for those that feel like they don’t have a voice in our current political climate.

I’m running for the Senate to be a common-sense voice for Maine’s working families. I will stand up to the heavy-handed policies of the current administration and fight their attacks on Maine workers. We’ll invest in education, work to create good-paying jobs and put the political power back where it belongs — with the people.

Emery Deabay is a 2012 Democratic candidate for District 31 of the Maine State Senate.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/08/07/opinion/a-voice-for-maines-working-families/ printed on August 20, 2014