As a lifelong Mainer, Republican and former state senator, I’m proud to be supporting Question 1 on November’s ballot.
That’s why I was so disappointed to read a recent opinion piece from my former colleague and fellow Republican Rep. Lawrence Lockman that was not only riddled with inaccuracies and misleading information about Question 1 but also attacked those who support it.
Lockman’s characterization of Question 1 couldn’t be further from the truth.
Question 1 is a grass-roots, nonpartisan, citizen-led initiative that will increase transparency and accountability in our elections so we truly have a government that is of, by and for the people — not one bought and paid for by wealthy, out-of-state special interests trying to buy political favors from elected officials.
Last year, I, along with more than 1,000 Mainers — Democrats, Republicans, Greens and independents — came together to collect more than 80,000 signatures from Maine voters to place Question 1 on the ballot this November.
Though we were from different political parties and shared different views on many different issues, we were united by one common goal: returning control of elections to the hands of the people.
Since that time, support for our initiative has only grown. Thousands of Mainers have given their time and resources to the campaign by knocking on doors, making telephone calls, volunteering in our offices or donating money.
More than 40 grass-roots organizations from throughout Maine have now endorsed the referendum and, just last week, U.S. Sen. Angus King and former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell endorsed Question 1 because they know it’s good for Maine and good for our democracy.
Question 1 is a common-sense reform bill that will elevate the voice of everyday people in our democracy by making some much-needed changes to our current election and campaign laws.
First, it increases fines and penalties for those who break our election laws, so that politicians are accountable to everyday Mainers — not wealthy special interests, corporations and their lobbyists who make big campaign contributions.
Second, it will demand transparency and shine a light on special interest money in our elections by requiring outside groups spending money in support or against candidates to list their top three funders on any ads they buy. Bottom line, we deserve to know where politicians get their money. Following the money and knowing who’s paying for ads allows us to spot corruption and conflicts of interest so that we can hold our representatives accountable.
And third, it will encourage strict campaign spending and contribution limits by restoring funding to Maine’s Clean Election system so that candidates can run for office without being beholden to wealthy special interests and corporations.
It does all of this without raising taxes on any individual or family in Maine.
Like most Mainers, I believe we deserve politicians who are working for us — the people. But when politicians depend on contributions from the wealthy, lobbyists and special interest groups, they work for them, and the priorities that matter to everyday people, like education and creating jobs, get ignored.
This November, Mainers have a choice to make.
We can either continue down the road of unlimited amounts of undisclosed big money influencing our elections, where people are so cynical that they have lost faith in the political system and think that their voice and vote do not count and cannot compete with big money special interests.
Or, we can stand together and ensure that everybody has a voice in our democracy by voting yes on Question 1 and putting control of elections where it belongs — in the hands of Maine voters.
To me the choice is simple. I urge you to vote yes on Question 1.
Edward Youngblood of Brewer is a former state senator.