Governors’ Forum, May 12

Mal Gormley kindly posted the video.

forum video

There’s a good story by John Oliver at the Lincoln County News here.

Kate’s opening remarks:

WELCOME TO OUR 2018 GUBERNATORIAL FORUM. Thank you all for joining us on this beautiful Saturday to participate in the best kind of democracy: the kind where people show up!

I’m Kate Josephs, a member of Lincoln County Indivisible, and would like to thank my fellow LCI volunteers along with those from Indivisible-Boothbay who helped put this event together. Thanks also to the staff of Great Salt Bay Regional School for hosting us and running the event, to Mal Gormley for videotaping, to More Voice for helping us understand Ranked Choice Voting, and to the Lincoln County Democrats who have been helping us behind the scene.

Thank you most of all to our wonderful, hard-working, and generous candidates – state, federal, and local – who give so much of themselves in an effort to make our lives better. We really, really appreciate you. And to you in the audience, please stay afterwards for a few minutes to meet our local candidates, ask them questions, and sign up to volunteer for their campaigns. Their names are on the back of your program and many of them are here today.

Speaking with us this afternoon are six Democratic candidates for Governor: Adam Cote, Donna Dion, Senator Mark Dion, Mark Eves, Diane Russell, and Betsy Sweet. One more candidate – Attorney General Janet Mills – is here with us by proxy. She could not be here in person due to an unavoidable job conflict. We didn’t think it was fair to penalize her for doing the people’s business, so we came up with this – admittedly imperfect – compromise. Janet received her questions in advance, and has supplied written answers, which I will read, unrehearsed. This does give her an advantage over her fellow candidates who have to react on their feet. At the same time, they have the advantage over her of using their own voices, reacting to each other in real time, and showing their own warmth and intelligence to the audience. We’re all going to do the best we can and we’ll have to leave it at that.

A BRIEF WORD ON THE INDIVISIBLE MOVEMENT responsible for this event. It’s an organic political awakening that sprang up nationwide in the wake of the last election. Stunned… hurting… terrified… – you’ll remember how we all felt! – people gathered in twos and threes, tens and hundreds, and finally in the millions for the incredible Women’s March the day after the inauguration. We asked each other what had happened. We asked what we should do next. And we began building new communities to heal ourselves and do that work.

Lincoln County Indivisible was started by three local women after the march, and Indivisible-Boothbay had a similar start. LCI today numbers more than 500 activist voters, and Boothbay has more than 400. Are any of the founders here? Could you stand, please, and take a bow?

I count 49 of these groups in Maine alone and I’m sure I missed a few! There are thousands nationwide. Many participants are new to political organizing, and lots of them are women. Together we engage in resistance, education, street theater, and community action of many kinds. We call our elected officials. We show up in their offices. We write letters, and checks. We hold “empty chair” town halls when people like Senator Collins refuse to show up. We work with the ACLU, and the students at Lincoln Academy who are worried about being shot in the hallways of their own school. We work to reduce incivility and political dysfunction in our lives.

Every group is different, but the Indivisible movement has three broad aims: defeat the Trump agenda, elect progressive leaders, and realize bold progressive policies. We don’t identify as partisan, but hold values that overlap with those of many Democrats. Also Greens, Democratic Socialists, Independents, Libertarians, and some Republicans.

The reason you see only Democrats on this stage today is that there’s a primary on June 12, and these are the progressives who have to face off in that primary. Independents figure in later. We need as much help as you do in deciding who to support, because we are blessed with an abundance of talent and energy in this election.

AND NOW TO INTRODUCE OUR MODERATOR, who will be known to many of you. Barb Burt lived in Newcastle for 22 years and now lives in Boothbay Harbor. She’s a tireless advocate of good government and has worked on many campaigns, local and national, paid and unpaid. As a Vice President at Common Cause in DC, she led the organization’s national election reform program. Her personal hero is Frances Perkins, and she served as the first executive director of Maine’s Frances Perkins Center. Barb believes that good leadership entails listening to, valuing, and learning from the stories of others.

Barb, thank you.

Barb’s opening remarks:

Welcome! I’m pleased to be here with such a great slate of candidates for governor of Maine.

First – I want to know about you. How many of you care deeply about Maine and its people and think we need a change in leadership?… How many of you are registered to vote?… Ok, how many of you are registered to vote as a Democrat? That last question is important, because if you want to vote in the June 12 primary for one of these candidates, you need to be registered as a Democrat. This isn’t a lifelong commitment; you can change to whatever you like after the primary. If you do need to register, we have a table where you can do that after we’ve grilled the candidates. [POINT TO TABLE]

Now, let me introduce you to the candidates:

Janet Mills, as you heard can’t be with us. Janet lives in Farmington. In addition to being the state’s attorney general, she is a grandmother. Her husband, Stan Kuklinski, died in 2014. In her private life, among other endeavors, Janet writes and enjoys poetry.

Adam Cote lives in Sanford with his wife and their five children. He spent over 20 years in the U.S. Army National Guard, serving in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, where he earned a Bronze Star. Adam is an expert in renewable energy, and is cofounder and CEO of Thermal Energy Storage of Maine. He has served on many community boards; in 2008 he ran for Congress, coming in second behind Chellie Pingree in a six-way race.

Donna Dion lives in Biddeford and is Franco-American. She is married and a grandmother. Donna was three-term mayor of the 6th largest community in Maine, Biddeford, and was simultaneously Chair of the School Committee. She has served in many community development organizations. She says one word sums up her platform “RESPECT.”

Mark Eves, is married and the father of three. He’s worked as a trained family therapist (both a clinician and administrator) for community health organizations across the state. Mark served for 8 years in the state legislature, including two terms as Speaker of the House. At their home in North Berwick, Mark and his family tends four goats, two pigs, and a coop full of chickens.

 Diane Russell of Portland served in the state legislature from 2008 to 2016. She has been on the forefront of reform efforts in the legislature and in the National Democratic Party, among them championing marijuana legalization; the elimination of super-delegates to the national convention; net neutrality; and ranked choice voting. When Diane first ran for the state house in 2008, she was working as a cashier at a local convenience store.

Mark Dion retired as Deputy Chief of Police after twenty-one years of public service to the citizens of Portland, during which time he was honored for work advancing the cause of civil rights by the NAACP, the Maine Gay and Lesbian Political Alliance, the Jewish Federation of Southern Maine, and the Maine Holocaust and Human Rights Center. He has served in the Maine legislature since 2010. Married and the father of two, Mark graduated from U Maine Law School and passed the bar in Maine in 2006.

Betsy Sweet is a single mother of three and lives in Hallowell. She’s been an advocate for the interests of women, elderly, people with disabilities and mental health issues, LGBTQ community, victims of abuse and discrimination, and the environment as the founder and principal of Moose Ridge Associates, a lobbying. In 2007, Betsy went back to school to get her Master’s Degree in spiritual psychology at the University of Santa Monica and has a counseling practice and coaching business. Betsy helped write Maine’s first Clean Election law and today is the only Clean Election Democratic candidate for governor.


Before we get started, I want to let you know how the forum will unfold. Each candidate will give us a one-minute introduction. Then we’ll start the first round, in which each candidate will receive a question and have 2 minutes to answer. Their answers will be timed; you may see a yellow warning flag and a red “Time’s Up” flag. If they continue, there will be a bell to cut them off.

None of the candidates has seen the questions beforehand, except for Janet Mills. Because we wanted to be able to include her, we sent her questions earlier this week and received her answers, which will be read by Kate.

After the first round, you’ll be asked to pass in your questions, which will then be sorted and used in the third round.

In the second round, each candidate will respond to any of the questions previously asked, with a 1 ½ minute answer.

After the second round, you’ll hear a short presentation about Ranked Choice Voting, a plea for donations to help cover this program’s costs, and a musical surprise.

The third round will consist of your questions, with each candidate again having 2 minutes to answer. Round four will give each candidate a chance to respond to any of the previous questions for 1 ½ minutes.

For the closing, each candidate will answer the same question. They will have 2 minutes.

After the candidates for governor are finished, we hope you will stick around and talk with local candidates, Indivisible members, make Clean Election donations, register if necessary, and pick up information.

 Round 1: Questions  (2 minutes each)                                                                                          

Mr. Eves Environment What is your plan for combating the effects of climate change on Maine? Will you sign Maine to the United States Climate Alliance that commits us to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement?
AG Mills Gun Violence What is your stance on universal background checks, including for gun shows, internet sales, and between private individuals? Should there be a waiting period before gun purchases? Should state or federal governments keep a registry of gun owners?
Sen. Dion Aging What will you do to facilitate in-home community services for seniors and people with disabilities?
Ms. Sweet Government A number of citizen-approved referenda have been thwarted by the Governor’s veto or the legislature. How will you ensure that these initiatives are implemented, and that this kind of obstruction does not happen again?
Ms. Russell Health Care How will you support a woman’s right to control her own body and have access to abortion services? Can you find common ground with people of opposing views?
Mr. Cote Education Maine was once known for the outstanding quality of its K through 12 education, but lack of funding and attacks on the Maine Education Association by the current administration have hurt our schools. How will you strengthen our K through 12 system?
Ms. Dion Economy How will you find the funding necessary to undo the impact of the attacks of the LePage administration on essential health and social programs? Are you willing to raise taxes?

Round 2: Responses to previous questions   (1.5 minutes each)                                           

Mr. Cote Open
Ms. Sweet Open
Ms. Dion Open
AG Mills Government A number of citizen-approved referenda have been thwarted by the Governor’s veto and/or the legislature. How will you ensure that these initiatives are implemented and that this kind of obstruction does not happen again?
Sen. Dion Open
Ms. Sweet Open
Mr. Eves Open

[BREAK: RCV Presentation by More Voice, followed by the Ballad of Ranked Choice Voting]

 Round 3: Questions   (2 minutes each)                                                                                         

Ms. Sweet Gun Violence [from L.A. student in audience] What will you do to keep students safe from gun violence?
Ms. Russell Immigration The Trump administration is pressuring states to use resources to assist ICE in rounding up immigrants. Some states are resisting; some are complying. Where do you stand on this? How should we deal with undocumented immigrants?
Mr. Cote Women’s Issues [from audience]

[Backup: How would you assess our current Governor’s efforts to reduce domestic violence in Maine? What would you do differently?]

Ms. Dion Environment [from audience]

[Backup: What specific steps would you take to increase the amount of renewable energy generated in the state of Maine?]

Mr. Eves Economy Between 2011 and 2015 the proportion of children in Maine living in deep poverty increased at a rate eight times the national average and faster than any other state in the nation. How do you intend to reverse this?
AG Mills Economy Maine has seen nearly 50,000 workers leave the workplace since 2006, and will see further declines as Baby Boomers retire. Tourist businesses can’t find seasonal workers, and Maine companies say they have markets and could expand but they can’t find the people to do it. How will you address Maine’s labor shortages – perhaps the biggest barrier to economic development?
Sen. Dion Health Care [from audience]

[Backup: Mainers are suffering under the burden of healthcare costs. How will you meet healthcare needs while addressing the cost burden?]

 Round 4: Responses to previous questions   (1.5 minutes each)                                          

Ms. Russell Open
Ms. Dion Open
Sen. Dion Open
Ms. Sweet Open
Mr. Cote Open
Mr. Eves Open
AG Mills Economy Between 2011 and 2015 the proportion of children in Maine living in deep poverty increased at a rate eight times the national average and faster than any other state in the nation. How do you intend to reverse this?

 Closing Question (2 minutes each)

What is Maine’s greatest challenge, and how will you address it?


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