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Troy Jackson has courage: That’s what it will take to combat Washington’s tea party extremism

Posted May 04, 2014, at 10:35 a.m.
Sen. Troy Jackson
Sen. Troy Jackson Buy Photo

I’ve been giving a lot of thought regarding the race for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, the seat held by U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, whom I expect will be elected our new governor. As the only independent in the Maine House of Representatives who does not caucus with either party, I am pleased to announce that I am supporting Democratic state Sen. Troy Jackson.

Maine’s 2nd District is the largest district in the country east of the Mississippi. While the district includes Bangor, Lewiston and Auburn, 72 percent of its population lives in rural areas, making it the second most rural district in the United States. Jackson epitomizes the congressman who can represent the rural and populist values of its people. I honor the fact that he is employed as a logger, a perfect fit where farming, forestry and marine resources dominate the cultural landscape and economy.

With the U.S. House dominated by right-wing Republican tea party operatives, Jackson has what it takes to help reverse this trend. While he is friendly, compassionate and fair, he is also tough. As he has aptly demonstrated in Augusta, he’s one of the few legislators who won’t back down to a bully.

Jackson had the guts to take on Gov. Paul LePage, whose inappropriate comments and insults directed at Maine workers and students needed a strong response. While many in Augusta fell silent during the LePage barrage, Jackson showed all Mainers what it takes to stand up to a bully who has gone too far. His courageous response to LePage’s tactics underscore the talents he will take to Washington to reverse the tea party extremism.

Jackson is a throwback to the great rural populists elected to Congress during the Great Depression. He has voted to support Maine’s workers 100 percent of the time and is diligent in his support of our farmers, fishermen and the forest products industry.

But there are other important issues Mainers must consider as well that underscore judgment and compassion.

During debate on the state budget in 2011, Jackson told Mainers the truth behind this noxious LePage budget, which included income tax breaks for the wealthy and for corporations. This budget and its irresponsible tax cuts resulted in a $400 million dollar revenue shortfall for our state.

With Maine’s infrastructure in a serious state of disrepair, Jackson understood how harmful this budget would be to our state’s people. Jackson had the courage to vote against this regressive budget. His primary opponent this June, then-Rep. Emily Cain, voted to support it.

In 2013, during the budget negotiations of the 126th Legislature, efforts were underway to repeal a portion of these irresponsible tax cuts in order to avoid raising the regressive sales, lodging and property taxes. Many members of the Legislature, including me, were stunned when Sen. Cain, a member of the Appropriations Committee, announced that repealing the income tax cuts enacted by the previous Legislature were off the table.

As a result of this poor decision, municipal revenue sharing to our communities was slashed, the homestead exemption and circuit breaker programs were eliminated or curtailed, and the regressive sales, lodging and property taxes were raised across our state. Apparently it was lost on Cain that the art of compromise includes getting something in return for giving something up. In the case of her decision to scuttle consideration of even a partial repeal of these irresponsible tax breaks, what did we get in return? Regular working Mainers and those on fixed incomes took it on the chin.

Jackson will represent the 2nd District with the same values he’s personified in Augusta. He supports working people and their right to a livable wage and affordable health care. He has an understanding of those on fixed incomes, and unlike his primary opponent, he will only support a tax policy that is fair and progressive. I also like the idea that he can be tough.

I believe Mainers will make the right decision to support Jackson in the June 10 primary and then elect him to the U.S. House of Representatives in November.

Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos of Friendship represents District 49 in the Maine House, which encompasses Cushing, Friendship, Union and Warren. He serves on the Legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Ethics committees.

 

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