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Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011: Casino referendum, same-day voter registration and harness racing

Election Day observation

For over 20 years I have had the pleasure of being an Election Day worker in Thomaston. On numerous occasions, Thomaston residents, some of them my friends and neighbors, have come to the polls to vote only to find their names had been removed from the centralized voting list. Their names were removed even though they had not moved since the last time they voted in Thomaston. Because we had same-day registration, these citizens were able to register and vote a regular ballot.

Keep same-day registration. It is safe, fair and has worked for 37 years. Vote yes on Question 1 on Nov. 8.

Michael Mayo


Not ready for upgrade

Maine is not ready to approve the construction of two new casinos. With the Oxford casino already under construction, Maine voters should think carefully before casting their votes this fall.

On the Nov. 8 referendum Maine residents will be asked whether they approve the construction of casinos to be built in Lewiston, Biddeford and Calais. I urge Maine residents to see the issues that will arise if we see three new casinos built in such a short period of time.

First, this would take the number of casinos in Maine from one to five almost overnight. This is way too many and it’s way too fast. We have a unique opportunity to see what happens when the Oxford casino is built, and then determine if Maine is ready for any more casinos.

If we approve Questions 2 and 3, we will essentially be upgrading the vehicle before we test drive it.

I am also concerned about the impact this many casinos will have on this area. I have no problem with healthy competition, but if Maine has five casinos, the pie will simply be sliced too thin for anyone to survive.

The prospect of jobs always seems attractive at first, but make sure you see how these jobs in other parts of the state might impact the jobs that we have here – the jobs that we need here – in our own backyard.

Please join me in voting no on Questions 2 and 3.

Teague Palmer


Unlikely risk

The Republican claims that their voter suppression campaign is only intended to protect the integrity of voting instead of their own partisan interests is hogwash.

Do the math. Voter fraud is a Class D crime in Maine, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine. In the 2010 election, 589,538 votes were cast for governor. Republicans would have you believe that there are sinister people out there willing to risk a year in jail and a $2,000 fine by voting twice in an election, when it would make an incredibly small difference in the outcome.

“But wait,” they say, “local races can be much closer, sometimes deciding a 3,000 vote race by a single vote.” True. In which case perhaps there is an idiot out there willing to risk a year in jail and a $2,000 fine in order to make a one in 3,000 difference in the outcome.

“But wait again,” they say. “Maine’s town officials are so overwhelmed currently that somebody could vote multiple times in different jurisdictions.” This would mean that some poor slob will take the time to falsify enough fake IDs, travel to 10 different towns, registering 10 different times with the threat of being caught each time, risking a decade in jail and a $20,000 fine, to influence the next gubernatorial race by a minuscule percentage.

The real threat to democracy is when politicians try to make it more difficult for voters to hold them accountable. Vote yes on Question 1.

Rep. Bob Duchesne


Ash’s ‘quiet leadership’

Before becoming a member of the Belfast City Council, I had the impression that the mayor had a very small role in city government, limited to presiding over council meetings and cutting a ribbon here and there. I quickly found out that there was much more to the position than that, and that what Walter Ash brings to the position is valuable to me personally, and to Belfast.

I did not realize until this past year that our “figurehead” mayor takes time every day or so to walk through City Hall to visit with city employees, as well as to speak with the city manager or other department heads about current issues. I’d be willing to bet that Walter could name almost every city employee — and that in most cases he knows their families, and who held the position before.

Walter knows Belfast intimately. As a long-time business owner, he has been part of the transitions that have taken place over the years. He also has a long history of involvement with the inner workings of city government, its committees and employees.

Walter’s opponent has a great deal of obvious enthusiasm for Belfast, which I applaud. And it takes a great deal of energy to run for office, as I well know. However, I believe Walter Ash’s quiet leadership, personal knowledge of Belfast history and years of community involvement are what Belfast needs as we move forward into the future.

Nancy Hamilton


Save harness racing

You know the saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”

I’m concerned that we might be saying this soon about Maine’s harness racing industry, and I don’t want to let that happen.

As you’re thinking about Question 2 on the ballot this year, I’d ask you to consider the connection between two Maine traditions – harness racing and agriculture. Question 2 would allow the construction of new harness racetracks, slots facilities and hotels in Biddeford and Washington County.

We have heard the message loud and clear from Maine’s horsemen and women. We need to pass Question 2 to create integrated racinos, which would give the harness racing industry a chance to compete against other types of entertainment. Wendy Ireland, the director of the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association, has basically described this as a do-or-die vote.

We should heed her warning. If we allow harness racing to disappear, that will not just have an impact on those who own and drive horses. It will have a huge ripple effect on many families, including horse trainers, feed suppliers, veterinarians, hay farmers, blacksmiths and others.

Harness racing supports working farms, open space, and our rural way of life. These are all worth fighting for. We can help by voting Yes on Question 2.

Rep. Stacey Fitts


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