No CMP Corridor, and Other Election Highlights
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!