Barack Obama for president

The popularity of Barack Obama’s hope-themed campaign shows that the country is eager for positive leadership, not a continuation of the divisiveness fostered by the Bush administration.

A positive message, of course, is not enough to be elected president, and we do have reservations about Sen. Obama’s limited experience. But his policies for righting the economy, ending the war in Iraq and moving America toward energy independence align with voters’ top concerns.

This paper has long respected and supported John McCain. However, Sen. McCain has compromised his principles by switching his positions on key issues and tolerating a persistently negative campaign to get elected.

The Barack Obama and Joe Biden ticket, with its serious focus and consistency on our most pressing issues, will better serve Maine and America.

Susan Collins for Senate

Sen. Susan Collins will be instrumental in bridging partisan divides and moving needed legislation forward as the country faces many pressing issues. That is why Maine voters should re-elect her to the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Collins has been at the center of congressional debate and policymaking on all the major issues in recent years. She is one of 20 senators working on a comprehensive energy policy. Her legislation to shift more of the Iraq war burden to the Iraqis was recently enacted.

She has helped secure more than $100 million in funding for research and development in Maine, creating new jobs.

Sen. Collins is not afraid to stand up to her party leadership. She voted against the last three budgets submitted by the Bush administration and successfully resisted White House efforts to eliminate an Iraq reconstruction watchdog.

Democrat Tom Allen has no shortage of big ideas, especially with regard to health care. However, his resume is short on legislation fulfilling these ideas.

Sen. Collins’ success shows that diligence, persistence and a centrist approach are necessary and valued. Such qualities will be needed even more over the next six years.

Mike Michaud for 2nd District

Mike Michaud’s ability to work with his colleagues regardless of political affiliation and get things done is good reason for the voters of the 2nd Congressional District to return him to Congress.

During his tenure on the Veterans Affairs Committee, a new clinic has been built in Lincoln, and the local hospital in Houlton has partnered with the VA to provide services in that community. An innovative complex in Bangor, which combines a VA clinic, veterans home, hospice care and low-income housing, and a mobile clinic to serve veterans in rural areas are also in the works.

He worked for nearly four years to create the Northern Border Regional Commission, which will invest $30 million per year in economic development and job creation projects in the most economically distressed areas of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.

Rep. Michaud’s hard work and priorities serve the 2nd District well, and he deserves to be re-elected.

Chellie Pingree for 1st District

Though both Democrat Chellie Pingree and Republican Charlie Summers are strong, knowledgeable candidates with well thought-out positions on the issues, it is Ms. Pingree who should represent Maine’s 1st Congressional District.

Ms. Pingree’s commitment to health care reform, an energy policy that gets beyond petroleum, a tax policy that fairly addresses growing budget deficits, and a foreign policy that would end a war costing up to $400 million a day will serve Maine and the nation well.

Ms. Pingree distinguished herself in four terms in the Maine Senate during the 1990s, where she rose to leadership, serving as the Senate majority leader. Though her core principles are liberal, Ms. Pingree was a pragmatic Democrat in the Legislature, working to ensure that health care reform and other initiatives eased the burden on small businesses as much as they helped middle-class families.

That approach will serve the 1st District well.

No on Question 1

Adding a few pennies to the cost of a beer or soda is not going to cause hardship among Maine residents or wreck the Maine economy. Eliminating health care coverage for thousands of Maine residents will.

There are problems with the state’s Dirigo Health program, but rejecting this tax will not fix them. Instead it will ensure that the program meant to expand insurance coverage and improve health care by maximizing savings and improving quality remains hobbled. Rejecting Question 1 would give Dirigo a chance to succeed.

The taxes replace the controversial savings offset payment. The SOP was meant to be a calculation of the health care savings resulting from Dirigo reforms, with the savings to be used to extend health care policies to those without insurance.

The Maine State Chamber of Commerce, a supporter of the beverage tax repeal, recently filed another lawsuit challenging the SOP, endangering this funding source as well.

A vote against Question 1 will give an innovative health care reform system a chance to succeed.

No on Question 2

With the exception of the Hollywood Slots facility in Bangor, Mainers have rejected casino and racino proposals when they have come before them for ballot approval. A full-service gambling casino and resort in Oxford should meet the same fate on Nov. 4.

Like the other gambling proposals, the Oxford casino would direct a substantial portion of revenue toward public education, expanding health care access, developing alternative fuels and other worthy endeavors. But these sums pale in comparison to the money that will leave the state.

Most troubling is the terribly flawed law attached to the referendum question. It calls for lowering the gambling age from 21 to 19, allowing the casino to extend credit to patrons, and putting the president of the casino on the boards of gambling regulatory agencies and the institutions that would benefit from the revenue. Casino backers have pledged to rewrite the law, a process with a highly unpredictable outcome in the Legislature.

This is not a gamble Maine should take.

Yes on Question 3

The $3.4 million the state wants to borrow for public water systems and wastewater treatment plants is important for public health, economic development and easing sewer and water rates. The bond should be approved.

The money will replenish two revolving loan funds that towns and cities use when water supply and delivery systems and wastewater treatment plants need upgrades. The $3.4 million will bring in $17 million in federal funds.