KVO Candidate Forum by Topic: Workforce Development

(For ease of isolating candidate responses by topics, the larger full forum post is being offered as single stand alone posts. ~KVO)
shenn2
(State Senator Shenna Bellows of Manchester, who served on the Maine 128th Legislature’s LCRED- Labor, Commerce, Research, Economic Development- standing committee, discusses supporting broadband expansion and encouraging more potential young Mainers to become business owners.) 

Round 5: Workforce Development

  • Immigrant-owned businesses generated $60.8 million in business income in 2014 (Source: The Partnership for a New American Economy, “The Contributions of New Americas in Maine”, 2014 American Community Survey- 1 Year Sample.).
  • Medicaid Expansion will create about 6,000 new jobs, most with higher than average wages (Source: “Get the Facts on Question 2: Medicaid Expansion Will Help Maine”. Maine Equal Justice Partners.).
  • Despite historically low unemployment levels, Maine’s economy is still a major issue in the 2018 campaigns. That’s because Maine’s aging population, losses in traditional manufacturing industries, stagnant wages and the lure of better-paying jobs in other states continue to combine to create a workforce shortage for the foreseeable future. (Source: Central Maine’s “Morning Sentinel”, 9/18/18.)
  • According to a recent study, Maine students are graduating with an average loan of nearly $30,000. This places them with the 15th highest rate of of college debt in the nation.

Question for the Candidates: What is your vision of revitalizing our local workforce and boosting economic development? What concrete steps would be among your priorities for the next legislative session? Do you support college loan forgiveness programs as a means of encouraging students to stay in Maine after graduation?

 

(L-R)
1. Senator Shenna Bellows, Candidate for Senate District 14
2. Karen Kusiak, Candidate for Senate District 16
3. Jan Collins, Candidate for Senate District 17
4. Lindsey Harwath, Candidate for House District 79
5. Representative Kent Ackley, Candidate for House District 82
MODERATOR DAWN DIBLASI
6. Representative Donna Doore, Candidate for House District 85
7. John Clark, Candidate for House District 105
8. Aaron Rowden, Candidate for House District 108
9. Representative Colleen Madigan, Candidate for House District 110
10. John Thiele, Candidate for House District 118

 

KVO Candidate Forum by Topic: Food Insecurity

(For ease of isolating candidate responses by topics, the larger full forum post is being offered as single stand alone posts. ~KVO)

helen kent

(KVO President Helen Roy discussing Rep. Kent Ackley of Monmouth’s points regarding hunger being a “ticking time bomb” for Kennebec County youth.)

Round 4: Food Insecurity

  • In Maine, 183,310 people are struggling with hunger–and of them 50,520 are children.
  • 1 in 7 people struggles with hunger. 1 in 5 children struggles with hunger.
  • People facing hunger in Maine are estimated to report needing $108,086,000 more per year to meet their food needs.
  • In Kennebec County, the food insecurity rate is 14%–estimated number per individual is 16,970 out of 120,953 individuals. In Somerset County, the food insecurity rate is 15.6%–estimated number per individual is 8,030 out of 51,363 individuals.
  • In 2016, Maine dropped from 9th worse food insecure state to 7th in the national ranking, done by the USDA.
  • Food insecurity in Maine is 25% worse than the national average and is worse now than it was during the height of the Great Recession.
  • Food insecurity affects people across age and socioeconomic ranges.
  • Sources: Feeding America and Good Shepherd Food Bank

Question for the Candidates: How do we solve food insecurity in Maine? What avenues could be explored through the legislative process for strengthening food access in Kennebec Valley?

(L-R)
1. Senator Shenna Bellows, Candidate for Senate District 14
2. Karen Kusiak, Candidate for Senate District 16
3. Jan Collins, Candidate for Senate District 17
4. Lindsey Harwath, Candidate for House District 79
5. Representative Kent Ackley, Candidate for House District 82
MODERATOR DAWN DIBLASI
6. Representative Donna Doore, Candidate for House District 85
7. John Clark, Candidate for House District 105
8. Aaron Rowden, Candidate for House District 108
9. Representative Colleen Madigan, Candidate for House District 110
10. John Thiele, Candidate for House District 118

 

KVO Candidate Forum by Topic: Public Transportation

(For ease of isolating candidate responses by topics, the larger full forum post is being offered as single stand alone posts. ~KVO)
donna
(Rep. Donna Doore of Augusta, listening to HD 118 Candidate John Thiele)

Round 3: Public Transportation

  • Public transportation is essential for those who cannot drive or afford a vehicle. As Maine (already the oldest state in the nation) ages, this is becoming a major challenge for our seniors… yet Maine spends only 40 cents per capita on public transportation compared to a national average of $45.66.
  • The recently adjourned 128th Legislature passed LD 1248, “An Act To Improve Public Transportation in Maine”. This bill provides funding to the Department of Transportation to support and expand local volunteer driver networks; to create a pilot purchase of service program in a selected region of the State to provide senior citizens and persons with disabilities vouchers to purchase their own transportation services; and for regional transportation providers throughout the State to expand their services.
  • The funding for this bill was split into two: 50% to urban and 50% to rural. This bill was also geared only to seniors and developed disabled individuals.
  • Maine Council of Aging, Maine Transit Authority and Maine DOT are among those who testified in strong supportive of the bill, where some of the funding is designed to go to start-up volunteer ride programs such as “Neighbors-Driving-Neighbors”, which serves the northern Kennebec County communities of Belgrade, Rome, Mt Vernon, Vienna and Fayette. A new group with a similar mission is forming in Winthrop, Readfield and Monmouth.
  • LD 1248 passed out of committee with a 12-1 vote. It later passed the House to be enacted and was in the possession of the Senate, when the 128th Legislature adjourned sine die on September 13. At that point, LD 1248 was placed on file and is dead.

Questions for the Candidates: Do you support or oppose funding for LD 1248? Will you commit to revisiting the proposed bill in the next legislative session?

(L-R)
1. Senator Shenna Bellows, Candidate for Senate District 14
2. Karen Kusiak, Candidate for Senate District 16
3. Jan Collins, Candidate for Senate District 17
4. Lindsey Harwath, Candidate for House District 79
5. Representative Kent Ackley, Candidate for House District 82
MODERATOR DAWN DIBLASI
6. Representative Donna Doore, Candidate for House District 85
7. John Clark, Candidate for House District 105
8. Aaron Rowden, Candidate for House District 108
9. Representative Colleen Madigan, Candidate for House District 110
10. John Thiele, Candidate for House District 118

KVO Candidates Forum by Topic: Racism and Immigration

(For ease of isolating candidate responses by topics, the larger full forum post is being offered as single stand alone posts. ~KVO)

sam

(Foreground: Kate Brennan and Samarali Daniels of Maine Equal Justice Partners)

Round 2: Racism and Immigration

  • Refugees in Maine have come from over 30 countries in: Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Former Soviet Republics, Middle East, Eastern Africa, South/Central America, Caribbean and Cuba. Current refugee populations that are coming to Maine are from Somalia, Sudan, Congo, Ethiopia, Burma, Iran and Iraq. Trends in refugee resettlement mirror the conflicts and tragedies that are happening worldwide and as such, Maine has most recently assisted in the resettlement of Eastern African and Middle Eastern refugees.

In the last 40 years, RIS has assisted nearly 10,000 people through its resettlement program and assisted over 20,000 with refugee and asylee support services. In fiscal year 2017, RIS resettled 358 primary refugees and assisted more than 37 secondary migrants and 86 asylees in becoming self-sufficient new members of our community. Similar populations and arrivals are expected to be resettled in FY18. (Source: Catholic Charities’ Refugee and Immigration Services)

  • In 2001, Maine topped the nation with 96.9 percent of its population described as white. According to the 2010 United States Census, that number had decreased slightly to 94.4%.
  • There are roughly 48,835 Maine residents who were born abroad, and 931 people who immigrated to Maine between 2010 and 2014 (Source: The Partnership for a New American Economy, “The Contributions of New Americas in Maine”, 2014 American Community Survey- 1 Year Sample.).
  • Make a note of additional cultural holidays, see attached.

Questions for the Candidates: Would you cosponsor a resolution asking that the 129th Legislature make note of these additional major holidays as well as raise awareness within your district’s schools? What is your personal commitment to assisting New Mainers feel welcome, know that they “have a place at the table” and within our communities?

(L-R)
1. Senator Shenna Bellows, Candidate for Senate District 14
2. Karen Kusiak, Candidate for Senate District 16
3. Jan Collins, Candidate for Senate District 17
4. Lindsey Harwath, Candidate for House District 79
5. Representative Kent Ackley, Candidate for House District 82
MODERATOR DAWN DIBLASI
6. Representative Donna Doore, Candidate for House District 85
7. John Clark, Candidate for House District 105
8. Aaron Rowden, Candidate for House District 108
9. Representative Colleen Madigan, Candidate for House District 110
10. John Thiele, Candidate for House District 118

KVO Candidates Forum by Topic: Healthcare

(For ease of isolating candidate responses by topics, the larger full forum post is being offered as single stand alone posts. ~KVO)

colleen

(Rep. Colleen Madigan of Waterville discussing how Maine’s recently passed Medicaid expansion law helps working people across the state.)

Round 1: Health Care

  • Medicaid Expansion, while passed at the ballot box in November 2017, is caught in the Maine legal system. When implemented, this will provide health care access to an additional 70,000 low-income Mainers.
  • Medicaid Expansion will open up health care access to adults who earn less than 138% of the federal poverty level, which is about $16,000 for one person or $22,000 for a family of two (Source: “Get the Facts on Question 2: Medicaid Expansion Will Help Maine”. Maine Equal Justice Partners.).
  • According to a recent news article in the Portland Press Herald, the LePage administration is rejecting applications for Medicaid from people who became newly eligible for the program as of July 2.

Question for the Candidates: Do you support Medicaid Expansion? Do you believe health care is a moral imperative and a human right? Please relate a constituent story you have heard during this campaign season.

(L-R)
1. Senator Shenna Bellows, Candidate for Senate District 14
2. Karen Kusiak, Candidate for Senate District 16
3. Jan Collins, Candidate for Senate District 17
4. Lindsey Harwath, Candidate for House District 79
5. Representative Kent Ackley, Candidate for House District 82
MODERATOR DAWN DIBLASI
6. Representative Donna Doore, Candidate for House District 85
7. John Clark, Candidate for House District 105
8. Aaron Rowden, Candidate for House District 108
9. Representative Colleen Madigan, Candidate for House District 110
10. John Thiele, Candidate for House District 118

 

KVO Conducts 2018 Candidates Night Forum

the shotKVO’s biannual event was held this year the evening of September 25th, at Waterville First Congregational Church and moderated by Somerset County county administrator Dawn DiBlasi.
All Kennebec and Somerset County 129th Legislative candidates were invited to attend as well as submit their answers in writing after the conclusion of the forum, for those wanting to participate but unable due to scheduling conflicts.
Jennifer Day, Candidate for House District 86, submitted her responses electronically. They are available by clicking on this link: KVO Forum
The evening’s topics were raised from surveying members at our Issues Assembly at St Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Winthrop earlier in the summer .
Local media coverage can be found via this link: Legislative candidates participate in Kennebec Valley forum

 

(L-R)
1. Senator Shenna Bellows, Candidate for Senate District 14
2. Karen Kusiak, Candidate for Senate District 16
3. Jan Collins, Candidate for Senate District 17
4. Lindsey Harwath, Candidate for House District 79
5. Representative Kent Ackley, Candidate for House District 82
MODERATOR DAWN DIBLASI
6. Representative Donna Doore, Candidate for House District 85
7. John Clark, Candidate for House District 105
8. Aaron Rowden Candidate for House District 108
9. Representative Colleen Madigan Candidate for House District 110
10. John Thiele Candidate for House District 118

Notes below were taken by KVO staff, regarding candidates’ responses:

Shenna Bellows (Senate District 14):

  1. Health Care – Supports a universal single payer system. Supports Medicaid Expansion.
  2. Racism and Immigration – Was an exchange student to Brazil when she was a teenager. Works at the Holocaust and Human Rights Center on the University of Maine at Augusta campus. Supports diversity.
  3. Public Transportation – Thinks investments into transportation is needed. Is committed to revisiting LD 1248. She has met a senior citizen who recently gave up driving, stating it has been hard to drive and costs too much money.
  4. Food Insecurity – Thinks the points raised is good starting points. Mentioned something of a full plates collation, which expanses access to school breakfast for students in need. Said school lunch programs should be expanded to online sign up options for parents and students alike. Bring these programs into the twenty-first century.
  5. Workforce Development – Agree with statewide bond program. State should engage with loan forgiveness options for recent graduates who decide to stay in-state after graduating from college. Recruiting options should be happening to bring young people and new businesses to Maine. Broadband access around the state should be happening too.

 

Karen Kusiak (Senate District 16):

  1. Health Care – Is moved by the Maine AllCare work. Supports Medicaid Expansion and a single payer option at the federal level.
  2. Racism and Immigration – Works with Capital Area New Mainers Project. Supports resolution in Augusta’s schools around cultural holidays representation on the school calendars.
  3. Public Transportation – Doesn’t know about LD 1248. Is committed to revisiting the bill if elected into office. Mentioned knowing about KVCAP expanded their public transportation options.
  4. Food Insecurity – Mentioned SNAP benefits at farmer markets for healthy options for families and children. Encourage food options with school lunches.
  5. Workforce Development – Supports loan forgiveness, keep it simple for those who wish to apply for this. Supports funding community college and the UMaine system for options in keeping the up and coming workforce in the state. Expanding broadband and cell services in the areas that need it.

 

Jan Collins (Senate District 17):

  1. Health Care – People shouldn’t lose their homes from their health care costs. Supports Medicaid Expansion and universal health care coverage. Health care is a moral and universal right.
  2. Racism and Immigration – Has personal experience with refugees, supports about building bridges with Muslims, educating Mainers about their countries and traditions.
  3. Public Transportation – Mentioned stories of the bad experiences with the current system. Rural Maine is affected more by the lack of public transportation than the rest of the state.
  4. Food Insecurity – An issue is excess produce from the area farms after harvests. Mentioned producing a network to gather excess foods to those in need. Need to have larger scale income, increase the minimum wage.
  5. Workforce Development – Jobs and profession options made available and not seen in rural areas. Expand broadband, cell service, and internet options. Mentioned the depletion of industrial arts in high school and how these skills are important for job opportunities for those who do not want to go to a four-year higher education institution.

 

Lindsey Harwath (House District 79):

  1. Health Care – Mentioned about how we should learn from other cultures about their health care systems in comparison to ours. Mentioned Medicaid Expansion is a duty that should be done, not caught up in the legality side of implementation. People voted for it. Health care access is a moral right.
  2. Racism and Immigration – Has done a lot of work with refugees. Need people from away to boost the economy. Small business options open for refugees and immigrants gives another way to boost the economy.
  3. Public Transportation – Doesn’t know all the specifics about LD 1248, but supports the thought behind the bill. Mentioned in Japan, there are taxis voucher options available for those who need to get to doctor appointments.
  4. Food Insecurity – Has experience with other countries and what they do at school with food options for their students. There is a misconnection with school gardens and the students. There is a misconnection with where your food comes from. There should be options available for learning to garden.
  5. Workforce Development – Get back to looking forward. Look at all options for economic development. Mentioned solar and wind industries to bring in newer industries to the state. Mentioned it should not take twenty plus years to pay off student loans. Mentioned human-capital development, which helps people and employees. Think about how that will make our state flexible with workforce and economic development.

 

Kent Ackley (House District 82):

  1. Health Care – Supports Medicaid Expansion. Health care is a human right.
  2. Racism and Immigration – Son of an immigrant. Mentioned should make the state both ethnical and economically attractive to young people. Yes to religious holidays being on school calendars.
  3. Public Transportation – Aging state, aging in home is key for many people. Public transportation is key to this. Supports revisiting LD 1248.
  4. Food Insecurity – Food insecurity is a ticking time bomb. There are additional social costs when children who experience food insecurity grow into adulthood. Mentioned matching local resources with incentives for food access.
  5. Workforce Development – Referred to David Anderman’s remarks about social and human capital, as to help people become self reliant. What can we do as a state to make the workforce more flexible, educated and receptive to changing needs?

Donna Doore (House District 85):

  1. Health Care – Affordable health insurance is a right, not a privilege. Did vote for Medicaid Expansion in the House. Mentioned that her son’s fighting to keep his SSI benefits.
  2. Racism and Immigration – Yes to cosponsoring recognition of all immigrants.
  3. Public Transportation – Did support LD 1248 in the House and continues to support. Mentioned that the city areas in the state are fortunate to have transportation options. Mentioned the state should revisit expanding rail options for transportation.
  4. Food Insecurity – Teach people who can farm to farm. Raise money to send backpacks home with food for those students in need. Need to fix the food insecurity issues in the state.
  5. Workforce Development – Need broadband to be expanded. Need to push vocational colleges and options for reducing student loan debts.

 

John Clark (House District 105):

  1. Health Care – Yes to Medicaid Expansion and yes to health care being a moral right. Mentioned how health insurance is like a reverse lottery ticket: don’t have it, their stuck.
  2. Racism and Immigration – Immigrants are going to be vital to an expanding workforce. Support holiday inclusion.
  3. Public Transportation – Has concerns—money to finance either LD 1248 or a bill similar to this model. Mentioned transportation is vital. Mentioned maybe having shuttle options between towns established down the line.
  4. Food Insecurity – It is cheaper to screw something up than fix it. Mentioned how every town has land to start community farms.
  5. Workforce Development – Supports a bond issue to fund costs for a bond person in rural areas to start up a business.

 

Aaron Rowden (House District 108):

  1. Health Care – Mentioned health care is a moral and human right. Economic imperatives crushes the economy as a whole.
  2. Racism and Immigration – Ties together and mentioned moving beyond celebrating other cultures. Be more inclusive about immigrants and include their culture in the broader American culture.
  3. Public Transportation – Supports revisiting LD 1248, and wants to make it better. Public options to workers, who will use fairs, which in turn will boost economic services and revenue.
  4. Food Insecurity – Focus on stopping the slide between generations with food insecurity. Vulnerable children need access to food, they need people to get them this. Mentioned doesn’t understand the statistics provided in the packet.
  5. Workforce Development – Has friends who were educated in Maine and have since moved out of state. Mentioned that Maine doesn’t have high paying job options. Supports loan forgiveness. Mentioned people are still displaced by the recession.

 

Colleen Madigan (House District 110):

  1. Health Care – Supports Medicaid Expansion. Mentioned there is no excuse for people not to have health insurance. Access to affordable health care helps working people.
  2. Racism and Immigration – Supports a New Mainers day. Maine is a homogenous state, and this is a great opportunity idea to learn about cultures outside of our own.
  3. Public Transportation – A barrier is transportation options to work for those who do not drive and/or can’t afford a car, as is this a barrier for those who need to get to important appointments. Supports revisiting LD 1248, and mentioned addressing rural transportation barriers.
  4. Food Insecurity – Mentioned some options for seniors experiencing food insecurity is having their neighbors cook meals for them. Mentioned SNAP having agricultural shares and expanding WIC to farmers markets. Also mentioned expanding Meals on Wheels.
  5. Workforce Development – Medicaid Expansion will bring in jobs. Mentioned expanding broadband. Mentioned the state needs more workers and needs loan forgiveness options. People across the board need to make enough money to stay in the state.

 

John Thiele (House District 118)

  1. Health Care – Supports Medicaid Expansion. Aspects of individuals not getting to their medical appointments and what they need medically is the elderly. Mentioned health care is a human right.
  2. Racism and Immigration – Mentioned a way to make new Mainers feel welcome can happen at the social organization and local community churches to make these individuals and families feel welcomed to the state. Yes to supporting equality of cultures and religions.
  3. Public Transportation – Support funding public transportation options. Maine is an elderly and poor state. Mentioned the Medicaid money might help fund transportation options.
  4. Food Insecurity – Mentioned community churches, school systems, legislatures, employers, and insurance about getting a handle on children facing food insecurity.
  5. Workforce Development – Mentioned seeing Maine residents enrolled in a degree program get tuition free.

 

Some general thoughts:

  • We all care about our communities. We all share common commitments.
  • Loving your neighbors goes deeper than religious teaching.
  • Emphasis on listening to voices that are very low and work to try to listen to people who otherwise might not be heard.
  • The geography representation was well rounded with the candidates.

 

 

 

 

Poor People’s Campaign Maine Rally in Augusta

KVO, community faith organizations and other area partners were among the many groups represented and individuals in Maine’s state capital on Monday, standing in solidarity as part of nationwide  Thousands across the nation gathered at dozens of state houses with hundreds arrested across the country, including 22 in Augusta, standing up for truth & justice.

From the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival  Facebook page:

“We have begun our 40 day season of sustained, nonviolent moral fusion direct action! Don’t miss a moment of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival’s first week! All of the events will livestream to the Campaign’s FB page.” #PoorPeoplesCampaign

Via Moral Movement Maine:

Nonviolent moral fusion direct action underway!

We are here at the State House in Augusta for the launch of Maine’s participation in thePoor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. In 40 states and Washington DC, folks are gathering to confront the interconnected evils of systemic poverty, systemic racism, the war economy, and ecological devastation. Follow Poor People’s Campaign Maine, and join the movement!
#poorpeoplescampaign #PPCMaine #MoralMaine #40daysofaction

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Above are photos of Mainers coming together at the State Capital and Blaine House on May 14th as part of the national movement. Several people spoke to the crowd before gathering for a peaceful protest at the Governor’s Mansion. Some quotes:

“A government that would allow its children and its disabled people to starve is an immoral government.” – Carolyn Silvius, Homeless Voices for Justice

“A great nation is one that embraces all of its people and truly cares for those who are disadvantaged. We need a “moral revival” to restore real American values that are grounded in unity, compassion and healing as a society. “Peter Wohl, Buddhist monk

“Poverty and racism must end, until we unite and become a force, the rich will continue to get richer. Three families have more money than the entire lower 50% of people in the United States, that is not right, it is not moral. Where there is one person suffering, we all are suffering.”Diane Dicranian, Quaker