What does “real listening…real representation” mean?

I am asking the people of District 38 to hire me as their representative to the legislature. That means that to the best of my ability I need to understand what that people want and also what is the greatest good for the greatest number of my constituents. The only way to ascertain these things is by listening to the concerns and opinions of the people whom I represent.

I promise to make myself available to hear the ideas, challenges and needs of the people in the towns of Unity, Thorndike, Knox, Brooks, Jackson, Monroe, Swanville, Waldo, and Frankfort for as long as I have the honor of representing them in the legislature.

– Heather “Betsy” Garrold

Food Sovereignty

I believe that everyone deserves the dignity and security of knowing where their next meal is coming from. The current model of food banks and soup kitchens are certainly helping to meet this pressing need but we need to ask ourselves are these things sustainable in the long run? I think we need to be moving from a model of charity to a model of solidarity. We need to seek out the underlying causes of food insecurity and address those issues, eliminating them. Food sovereignty is one piece of this puzzle along with the need to make a concerted effort to relocalize our food system so that we are less dependent on long, fragile supply chains. Maine can feed itself. We just need the political will to make the changes needed to the current corporatized, commodified food system.

Health Care

Medicare for All is an elegant solution to many of the current problems with our “health” system. At a cost of approximately 6% overhead/administrative fees as opposed to the 30% now eating up healthcare dollars a publicly supported healthcare system would increase real dollars going to patient care while decreasing the wasteful overhead (insurance company profits) built into the current system. With the huge amount of money this would free up we could provide the best healthcare system in the world.

Local Governance

Maine is fortunate to have a “home rule” clause in its constitution that allows a lot of local decisions to be made by local people. The more than 70 towns that have adopted Food Sovereignty Ordinances taking back control of their local food systems are prime examples of how this system works well for the people of Maine. Decisions effecting local people should be made as close to home as possible.

Civics Education

Since the 1970s schools have been scaling back on civics education. This has lead to a generation or two of folks who really do not understand the inner workings of their government and the importance of being involved in the decisions that effect to a great degree their day to day lives. Potholes not getting fixed? Who do you call? Worried about the integrity of the ballot box? Who is in charge of that? Is it someone you know? Someone you trust? All of these questions and many more are easily answered by someone who has had just one semester of Civics Education in their high school career. We need to get back to offering civics as a stand alone course. One that gets the attention and emphasis that it deserves. Better educated citizens make better citizens; less apt to fall for dubious facts that are rampant on social media these days.

Climate Change

No one can deny that the catastrophic weather events seem to be coming more and more frequently. Although everyone may not agree on the extent to which we as humans have caused these catastrophes, we can agree that something needs to be done to slow the ever-increasing death, destruction and property damage these events leave in their wake. Common-sense legislation to mitigate these effects needs to be introduced. Even if you think of the single example of the collapse of the insect population in the past few years and the effect this will have on the total ecosystem, it is apparent that many things need to be done.

Campaign Finance Reform

Since the ruling by the Supreme Court that corporations are people and thus endowed with free speech, and that money is speech, our political system has descended into a miasma of dark money and the outright purchase of our supposed representatives. We are fortunate here in Maine to have the option of using Clean Election funds for legislative races. It would be my goal to expand and strengthen this program to congressional races.

Ranked Choice Voting

This method of electing our representatives allows for the presence of candidates from a wide swath of political ideals to run for certain offices without the fear of “spoiling” the election. It needs to be expanded to general election gubernatorial and state legislative races via a constitutional amendment.