Who am I?
For more than 30 years I have made my home in North Haven, a small island town of 350 people located twelve miles off the coast of Rockland. I raised my three children here, ran an organic farm and a knitting business and now co-own and help manage Nebo Lodge, a restaurant and inn.
I am a native of Minnesota, and I moved to Maine right after high school. As others from away will tell you, it isnt always easy to come and live in a small community! I had to earn the trust and respect of the people in my town. Over the years I have come to realize that it is quite a gift to be part of a community, and that being a part of a small town includes the responsibility to think of the greater good with as much concern as one thinks of ones own self interest. Remembering that we are all in this together, is often lost in politics today " from our international relations to domestic policy " and I think that denying that principle ignores a very important American value we all share.
That sense of responsibility to my community is at the heart of my life in politics.
In addition to my family and my work, island life provided many opportunities to engage in the civic life of North Haven. I have baked pies for school bake sales, supported neighbors in difficult times, participated in our annual Town Meeting (an essential New England tradition) and, of course, voted (always on a paper ballot!). Being active in the community led to my running for and serving in several local offices, including tax assessor and chair of the school board.
In 1992 I ran for a seat in the Maine Senate and won, and I served for eight years " the maximum under Maines term limits law. For four years in the Senate, I served as Senate Majority Leader. Some of the highlights of my time in the Maine Senate were the passage of landmark prescription drug pricing legislation, as well as authoring the states first corporate accountability law and a bill that created Parents as Scholars, Maines humane response to welfare reform. Those who know me will tell you I have always been someone that can be counted on to stand up and tell the truth, even when its not what ones colleagues or opponents want to hear, and this was particularly true during my time in the State Senate. Im proud of my record in the Maine Senate and of the fact that many of the laws I helped to pass continue to positively impact the people of Maine.
In 2002 I ran for U.S. Senate, challenging Republican incumbent Susan Collins, and lost. That was a difficult year for Democrats around the country, and I was cautioned not to oppose the impending war in Iraq. Since Ive never been known for being particularly cautious, and with the Congress facing the enormously consequential decision of whether to grant the president authority to engage in a preemptive war, strong opposition was the only honest response. I have absolutely no regrets about my decision to publicly oppose the war during that campaign " and I was proud to be endorsed by MoveOn.org during that election cycle for doing that.
After the campaign I was selected to serve as the National President and CEO of Common Cause, a 30-year old non-partisan citizen activist group with nearly 300,000 members and 35 state chapters. Needless to say, the last four years provided lots of opportunity for a reformer in Washington D.C.! During this time, I worked to strengthen the organization and to use its influential voice to limit media concentration and consolidation, promote Net Neutrality, and expose the cronyism in the governments Iraq war contracts. We also pursued our traditional goals of campaign finance and election reform, fighting for a paper trail on electronic voting machines and strengthening the rules on government ethics and accountability. I also made it a priority to assist important state efforts, such as the state of Connecticuts successful effort to pass a public financing system for state campaigns.
Why am I running?
I think that 2008 will be the most important election of our lifetimes and the decisions that our country needs to face could decide whether we even have a future to pass along to our children and grandchildren. I decided to run again because I believe that we need to elect people who are not afraid to demand big changes and provide bold leadership. If I am fortunate enough to be chosen to represent the people of Maines first Congressional District, people will be able to count on me to take on the tough battles in Congress just as I did in the Maine Senate and at Common Cause.
The publics expectations will be very high for what I hope will be an even larger Democratic majority in Congress after the 2008 election. This Congress will have to deliver significant change in areas like foreign policy, energy and the environment and health care if it is to earn and deserve the trust of the voters - and the confidence of the public is currently very low. Good ideas are not enough! Congress needs members who will provide strong, tenacious and effective leadership, and my skills, experience and willingness to take on the tough fights are exactly whats needed at this point in time.
My goals are ambitious - but essential. I want to address the serious and chronic issues we face with bold, effective solutions. I want to strengthen the backbone of our Democratic caucus so that every solution we propose is based on sound, fair, responsible and constitutional principles. I want to build coalitions across constituencies in order to win the policy battles and ensure their successful implementation.
There are so many examples of important issue areas where Congress has fallen short and let down the American people. Health care, taxation and energy are just a few, but the one that troubles me the most is the failure to effectively oppose President Bushs disastrous foreign policy. I never want to see America act as an aggressor nation again, viewed as a threat rather than a beacon of hope by most of the world. Its time to rebuild our relationships and reputation around the world - no task is more important.
Our first task is to end the war - we must begin bringing home our troops immediately. And we need to make bold strides toward repairing the broken international relationships that our misguided aggression has created. Clearly, there can be no future for our children and grandchildren if we do not move towards creating peace in the world and reducing international conflict.
Second, we need to fix our broken health care system - and stop fearing the terms single payer or universal access. I am deeply troubled that we continue to have a health care system that, unlike every other industrialized county in the world, is unaffordable to a large percentage of individuals and small businesses, and is increasingly bankrupting our country. I believe that health care is a basic right, and that mustering the political will to change is the most important task of the next Congress. I can stand up for whats right when it comes to health care, I have a record of success on this issue, and I intend to use these credentials to make progress on this critical issue.
Third, it is extremely important to me that we bring the state of our environment into harmony. I see this both on a large scale - dealing with climate change and energy, for instance, and also on a smaller scale - changing how we interact with the natural world in our daily lives and communities. It is very important that we are able to trust that the food we eat is safe, and that its production is not causing harm to us or our environment. It is vital that we are able to live in health and comfort, and that we preserve a healthy balance in our communities between growth and conservation. I spent many years as an organic farmer, and have a BA in Human Ecology -- this ethic has been a very important part of the issues I have worked on, not to mention the way I have lived much of my life. While there is much we can do as individuals, there is a critical role for the federal government to play - in conservation, regulation and the development of new technology. Without it, we will never be able to find and mount solutions that match the scale of the problems we face.
Finally, even as we work on these important issues, it is critical that we return our country to a thriving and functioning democracy - one where every vote is counted, where big money does not control the decisions our politicians make, where we can trust our media and where we respect the rule of law and the US Constitution. Fighting for that requires eternal vigilance. Without a healthy democracy, I believe that many of the things we care about will never be achieved.
My DFA Values
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My Campaign is People Powered!
Grassroots organizing is central to my campaign for Congress. Maines First Congressional District has 125 towns, and I am campaigning in every one of them by joining citizens at community events and getting together with supporters in their homes. This kind of across the district campaign is possible because grassroots leaders are organizing in their towns. They are deciding how to connect with voters based on what really works in their area. They are advising the campaign on timing and location and taking the reins in a true neighbor-to-neighbor fashion. Grassroots leaders are coordinating educational events, making calls to gauge support and build the network and relaying valuable information to and from the campaign HQ. There is true back-and-forth between the grassroots, the whole campaign team, and me, and I wouldnt have it any other way.
A great example of this is our campaign office hosting an open house during Portlands First Friday Art Walk. Our campaign HQ is located in the Portland arts district, and several volunteers urged us to be a part of our communitys most notable monthly celebration. Those same volunteers found some local high school artists who wouldnt have otherwise been able to show their work, and they turned our headquarters into a gallery for a night, complete with hot cider and cookies. We talked to more than 60 people during the art walk and were truly excited be a part of our blocks party and support some young artists!
Good campaigns are about people and empowering communities to organize in the way that makes sense to them - my campaign gives people the tools, and we often learn new and exciting lessons that we would not have realized had we just been working on our own.