Updated: Nov 8, 2021

Tuesday’s election went off without a hitch, with one of the state's highest turnouts for a referendum-only election. Mainers were fired up to vote on the controversial and heavily advertised CMP corridor issue, as well as a proposed constitutional amendment surrounding the ‘right to food.’ Here’s our recap:

YES on 1, a resounding NO to CMP

Question 1 was the most expensive referendum campaign in Maine history. Both sides of the campaign spent nearly $100 million combined to sway public opinion on the issue, citing environmental concerns, retroactivity, electricity savings, and more. Voters’ mailboxes, television screens, and social media feeds were flooded with advertisements before Election Day.

Mainers ultimately rejected the CMP corridor in a 59-41 vote. But CMP isn’t giving up that easily. At the risk of losing its profit on the project, Avangrid (CMP’s Connecticut-based parent company) has sued to challenge the constitutionality of the referendum. It should be noted that Avangrid is owned by Spanish power giant Iberdrola.

A New Constitutional Amendment

Mainers also passed a constitutional amendment on Tuesday to establish a “natural, inherent and unalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being.”

This amendment is concerned with the origins of food, not so much freedom from hunger. Supporters of the amendment say it promotes growing and consuming locally-grown food, as Maine imports 90 percent of its food from out of state. Opponents worry it may limit regulations on hunting and food safety.

Augusta Special Election

Democrat Raegan LaRochelle, a business owner and at-large city councilor, defeated Republican James Orr, an army veteran, in Tuesday’s special election for House District 86. The seat, a Republican stronghold for over a decade, was previously held by Rep. Justin Fecteau, who resigned in July to take a teaching position outside of the district.

LaRochelle’s campaign prioritized affordable housing and healthcare, as well as economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. She had the endorsement of the state employees’ union and the Maine Education Association. Orr voiced support for stricter voter ID laws.

LaRochelle, who is finishing out Fecteau’s term, will be on the ballot again in 2022.

Maine’s Newest Mayors

Augusta, Lewiston, and Biddeford residents elected new mayors this year, with only Biddeford’s mayor seeking reelection.

In Augusta, former city councilor and Board of Education chairman Mike O’Brien narrowly defeated At-Large Councilor Marci Alexander by a mere 444 votes. Alexander wrote that “the city is in good hands” with O’Brien and congratulated him and his team on a good campaign.

In Lewiston, Munka Coworking co-founder Carl Sheline won his race against retired state social worker Donna Gillespie. Both candidates focused on economic development, education, and improving the city’s public image.

Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant won a sixth term against Victoria Foley, a relative newcomer to the city. Casavant has been overseeing a massive revitalization effort in Biddeford, and he plans to make this his final term to see projects through and address the growing affordable housing crisis.

Voters Reject Criticism of Mask Mandates and Critical Race Theory

Critical race theory (an academic approach to racial bias in institutions and law mainly studied in higher education) and mask mandates have been points of contention in school board races across the country. In Maine, however, opposition to these approaches resulted in losing battles for at least four school board candidates.

In Hampden, Ellsworth and Windham, candidates with these positions in their platforms and/or supporters who opposed CRT and mask mandates were defeated by candidates stressing the more traditional school board issues, such as improved transparency and community relations.

“Grace Leavitt, the president of the Maine Education Association, said anti-mask candidates were part of a ‘loud minority’ and that most parents recognized that mandates kept children safe and in school,” Bangor Daily News reported.

No matter how you voted on Tuesday, we hope you had a chance to make your voice heard at the polls!

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The Chamber of Commerce is a well-known presence in any community. For owners of businesses large and small, it represents an opportunity to share resources and connect with other businesses.

But what many people don’t know is that the Chamber of Commerce uses their members' dues to lobby the state government in a way that actively harms small businesses and working families.

Maine’s Chamber of Commerce, in a recent promotional mailer, laid it all on the line opposing affordable healthcare and housing, clean air and clean water, and supporting tax havens, a policy that only benefits huge multinational corporations attempting to hide profits overseas. In short, the Chamber of Commerce doesn’t care about what’s good for Maine or Maine’s economy. They only care about huge multinational corporate interests.

We need solutions that put Maine’s small businesses and working families first. To help our families bounce back from months of uncertainty, hardship, and financial stress. To attract workers looking for a better quality of life to Maine, easing the labor shortage. Most importantly, to allow our small businesses and working families to thrive.

These solutions can be found in the policies proposed for the 2022 legislative session and supported by Mainers for Working Families. We endorse bills to relieve tax burdens for Maine families while ensuring corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share; to make affordable housing and healthcare more accessible; and to defend the rights of workers. These measures are good for small businesses. They’re good for working families. They’re good for Maine.

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Election Day is this Tuesday, November 2nd, and there are three referendums on the ballot this year. We’re here to tell you more about the questions on the ballot and what they represent.

Question 1: The CMP Corridor

“Do you want to ban the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region and to require the Legislature to approve all other such projects anywhere in Maine, both retroactively to 2020, and to require the Legislature, retroactively to 2014, to approve by a two-thirds vote such projects using public land?”

This question is designed specifically to address the controversial CMP corridor, a project designed to deliver hydropower from Quebec to Massachusetts via an energy corridor in the North Maine Woods. This is a citizens’ referendum, meaning the question was placed on the ballot through a signature campaign. It is also the most expensive referendum fight in Maine’s history, with over $60 million in spending.

A “yes” vote bans the construction of the CMP corridor. A “no” vote allows construction to continue.

Some background: When CMP first made its deal to build the corridor in 2014, it did so without legislative review. This angered a number of Mainers because the proposed route of the corridor cut through public lands. Opponents of the corridor sued, and a Superior Court ruled against CMP. The company appealed to the Maine Supreme Court, but no ruling has been handed down yet.

For more information, including debunking many of the claims in TV ads and mailers, visit these resources:

Question 2: Transportation Bonds

“Do you favor a $100,000,000 bond issue to build or improve roads, bridges, railroads, airports, transit facilities and ports and make other transportation investments, to be used to leverage an estimated $253,000,000 in federal and other funds?”

Bond votes are pretty standard on ballots. They concern funding used for state projects like infrastructure. In this case, $85 million would go towards improving highways, roads, and bridges, and $15 million would improve railroads and ports.

Question 3: The Right to Food Amendment

“Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to declare that all individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being?”

This measure, introduced by State Senator Craig Hickman, would add an amendment to the state Constitution guaranteeing a right to food, but it’s not as straightforward as that. This is less about guaranteed access to food as much as it is about where the food comes from.

Supporters of the measure say it promotes growing and consuming locally-grown food, as Maine imports 90 percent of its food from out of state. Opponents worry it may limit regulations on hunting and food safety.

For more information, see this Bangor Daily News article: What you need to know before voting on Maine’s ‘right to food’ referendum.

No matter where you stand on these issues, it’s vital that you make your voice heard. Make sure you vote on Tuesday, November 2nd!

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