Priorities for the coming election

By The Courier-Gazette Editorial Board | Jun 19, 2014

We are about halfway through 2014, so it might be a good time to talk about our priorities for the second half.

Last week, the primary elections were held and saw a small turnout at the polls. In November, we will elect a governor and area representatives to serve us in Augusta, so the first goal is to see increased participation by voters at the polls in the coming election.

Going into an election, it is important to think about what our priorities should be: what do we want our incoming leaders to focus on?

We will hear from those seeking election on a number of key issues: the need for business growth and economic development, ways to add jobs, concerns about health care, the environment, how to protect services for the elderly and education.

One issue that is sometimes forgotten is hunger. Many of us in this community are fortunate enough to be able to take our meals for granted, but consider this:

"The USDA estimates that 14.9 percent of Maine households, or approximately 200,000 individuals, are food insecure," according to the Good Shepherd Food Bank website. "The number of Mainers who are food insecure has increased significantly in recent years. Maine ranks 18th in the nation and first in New England in terms of food insecurity."

Hunger is an issue that does not wait for Christmas. Summer may be a hard season for children in homes dealing with this problem because school gets out this week and they will not have the breakfast and lunch our schools provide to depend on.

Nearly 1 in every 4 children in Maine is food insecure (62,800 children).

We, as a community, can do better than this, and we need to make sure this topic makes it on the agenda for our new leaders running for election. This issue should certainly be as important in our community as the problems in Iraq.

Education is one of the most significant challenges facing the Midcoast in the coming year and should also be a priority issue.

Six high-ranking administrators have left the RSU 13 school district, which serves Rockland, South Thomaston, Thomaston, Owls Head, Cushing and St. George (for now). Among them, the superintendent, the two high school principals and the business manager.

The district has been in turmoil pretty much since it started as a fusion of the former SAD 5 and SAD 50.

The good news for the school board as it works this summer to address these challenges is that its budget was approved last week.

As we look at priorities for the rest of this year, we should consider what it is we want in our new school administrators. Our wish list is that they will be full of energy, ideas, inspiration and still have enough idealism left to find creative solutions to challenges facing our schools.

The school board should view this as an opportunity to bring in innovative leaders, who will not be busy saying, "This is how things have always been," but who will identify what needs to be done to move forward. Once hired, the board needs to let these new administrators do their jobs rather than engaging in any petty politics, or clinging to the past. The days of SAD 5 and SAD 50 will not return, so we must find a new path forward.

The passage of the budget hopefully indicates a willingness on the community's part to put the children first in going forward.

Stay informed, stay involved and let your voice be heard. Send letters to the editor concerning these and other priorities you would like to see addressed in the coming election to news@villagesoup.com or 91 Camden St., Suite 403, Rockland, ME 04841.

Comments (1)
Posted by: paula sutton | Jun 26, 2014 09:15

As a candidate for State Senate in District 12 (Knox County), I have been hearing many of the above mentioned concerns.  In addition , many people have been expressing concern on the topic of welfare reform and are very fustrated that legislation was defeated this year that would have eliminated the purchasing of "junk food" with money from the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).

I encourage more people to get involved and inform yourself about the issues and  candidates and suggest looking to a variety of media sources to obtain different viewpoints .  Maine is a beautiful state and we need all hands on deck to keep turning the ship into a more business friendly direction so that more jobs can be created and more people are in a position to be contributing members of the community.

 

I advocate for selfsufficiency   and to spend money locally when possible.  Planting a vegetable garden, of any size , with your neighbors in a community plot, on your patio in some pots or in the backyard is an easy place to start the fight against food insecurity.  There are many places you can take gardening classes or  just go to the library and take out a book.  There are so many simple ways to make a difference and I urge people to take a step in that direction.



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