Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor, Jan. 4

Jan 04, 2018

Sutton misses the point

Rep. Paula Sutton's letter to the editor Dec. 16 misses the point.

If she was in Augusta on Oct. 16, 2017, she would have seen person after person testifying on behalf of ranked-choice voting. These were not lobbyists but voters who believe in ranked choice voting. They are some of the 338,000 people who cast their vote to pass ranked-choice voting in the second-largest referendum win in Maine's history.

When the Legislature voted to overturn the will of the people, by passing a law that delays and then repeals ranked choice voting, which I take seriously, it told constituents that their vote didn't matter.

Disempowering voters is not the job of legislators. It will only result in fewer and fewer people going to the ballot box as it reinforces the narrative that their vote doesn't count. What is even more annoying is her perception that people don't know what they are voting on — a condescending attitude of “legislators know better.”

The voters put the legislators in office. We, the voters, know what we are doing when we elect legislators, and we are called upon regularly to vote on financial and political issues. That’s called democracy.

Most citizens' initiatives are created when there is a lack of effective action in the Legislature on a matter that is critical to the citizens of Maine.

Ms. Sutton also doesn't have her facts straight. The Maine Supreme court did not declare ranked choice voting unconstitutional. It issued a non-binding opinion that parts of ranked-choice voting may be subject to a legal challenge. There is a world of difference between that opinion and an actual court ruling — something that has been greatly and conveniently overlooked by those opposed to ranked-choice voting.

Those opposed are primarily those who benefit from the current system that has us locked in to only two major parties that each have major problems. Ranked-choice voting is simply a straightforward path to a more open, more civil, more democratic voting process for the citizens of Maine. That’s why it has the support of the majority of Maine voters.

Mike Shunney


Supports mayor's approach to housing issues

Rockland’s mayor has been working hard to increase affordable housing in Rockland. Through her support for Habitat for Humanity’s Philbrick Avenue project and her exploration of feasibility in converting the McLain School and developing upper stories in downtown buildings, she demonstrates an open approach to finding solutions to the shortage of housing in Rockland.

I believe it make senses to consider the permitting of smaller lot lines sizes and minimum building sizes for undeveloped pockets in town such as the Philbrick project, areas where the character of established neighborhoods would not be put at risk.

Mayor Valli Geiger’s concern about short-term rentals certainly is warranted. We need a revision to the short-term rental ordinance that would exclude absentee landlords, owners who are not Rockland residents, regardless of who actually manages the property. This would keep dwellings on the long-term rental market. Otherwise we risk Rockland becoming a seasonal city of strangers that exists primarily to serve tourists.

Deborah Perkinson


A shout-out from voters

Many hundreds of volunteers are now attempting to collect some 61,000 voter signatures to veto the state Legislature's "delay and repeal" action against ranked-choice voting, which appeared as Question 5 on the ballot in November 2016, and passed with a comfortable 52-percent majority.

If successful, the People's Veto petition, as it is sometimes called, would overrule the Legislature's action of this past fall and allow ranked-choice ballots for the June 2018 primary elections and further elections down the road.

It's important for people to know that this veto petition is not simply a replay of the original Question 5, which called for ranked-choice voting for all statewide and federal elections in the state. Three such elections — general elections for governor, state senator, and state rep — are not currently at issue in this petition because the State Supreme Court advised (in a 7-0 decision) that they are not compliant with the Constitution. What remains are primary elections for governor, state senator, and state rep, and primary and general elections for the U.S. Senate and House. All of these elections fall outside the purview of Maine's Constitution.

The citizen's petition is a sensible, strong, and constitutionally compliant compromise effort to move Maine away from its "first horse past the pole," plurality-takes-it-all election system to a much fairer, more just and democratic way of choosing our leaders and representatives.

Oddly, ranked-choice voting has had strong bipartisan support in Maine in the past, but only recently became sharply partisan, with nearly unanimous Republican opposition.

Perhaps just as oddly, the people of Maine need to vote, once again, to have their voices heard on a measure they already solidly approved, that became (ever so briefly) state law.

You can learn more about the effort, and how ranked-choice voting is better for us all, by visiting (with which I have no association). It's the right way for Maine to go, and to become first in the nation to do so statewide.

It's also a shout-out from the voters that their spoken will cannot be denied by government maneuvering and subterfuge.

Ned White

South Thomaston

Synagogue says thanks for successful Chanukah party

Adas Yoshuron Synagogue's Community Chanukah Party at the Rockport Opera House Dec. 16 was an enormous success. We welcomed over 140 adults and children to a joyous evening of energetic music, delicious food and family fun. It was a beautiful evening and a very special way for community members to gather to celebrate the Festival of Lights.

On behalf of the Board of Directors of Adas Yoshuron Synagogue in Rockland, I’d like to thank the following Chanukah party sponsors: CedarWorks, French & Brawn, The Grasshopper Shop, Once a Tree, Planet Toys and Main Street Markets, which also provided the delicious latkes. Thank you to the Strand Theatre for donating movie tickets. The generous support of these businesses helped make this community celebration possible.

John Heywood said, “Many hands make light work,” and that was true of our Chanukah party. We’re grateful to the town of Rockport for the use of the Rockport Opera House, and to house manager Terri Lea Smith for working with us on all the details. Much gratitude to Sruli Dresdner and Lisa Mayer for the spirited and inspiring music, and to Lisa for leading us in Israeli dancing.

I’d like to thank my co-chair, Stuart Finkelstein, for working on publicity and for organizing the children’s crafts; Fred Ribeck, for designing our eye-popping poster; Liz Snider and Richard Aroneau, for their excellent guidance and suggestions; Judy Stein, for rallying her Food and Jewish Culture gourmet cooks and concocting delectable Jewish food from around the world; Shelley Kushner and Carol Jacobsen, for purchasing supplies; Gail Wartell, for help decorating and for publicity; Elizabeth Siegel, for planning the Chanukah crafts and making decorations with the Hebrew School students; Minda Gold, for leading the children in song and leading the blessings over the candles; Sara Levy and Kathleen Meil, for supervising the children’s crafts; Lenora Goldman, for staffing the information table and selling supplies; Jacques Vesery, for taking pictures; Denise Singer, Susan Wind and David Smith, for selling tickets; and everyone who came out and danced and sang and enjoyed the Festival of Lights.

We hope to see you in December 2018 at Adas Yoshuron Synagogue’s Third Annual Community Chanukah Party at the Rockport Opera House!

Linda Garson Smith


Comments (1)
Posted by: Gerald A Weinand | Jan 06, 2018 21:48

I am a supporter of ranked choice voting. Unfortunately, the Maine Constitution prohibits the use of such a system for general gubernatorial and legislative elections. The original wording of the Maine Constitution that a winner of such elections was one that achieved a "majority" was amended to read "plurality." Amending the Maine Constitution is done so by the voters.

Instead of the well meant ballot measure, energies are much better spent on amending the Maine Constitution to allow ranked choice voting to be used in ALL elections.

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