Your Voice Matters! Vote Tomorrow!!

We all have our opinions.  Only twice per year do we have a concrete way to voice them.  Tomorrow is one of those chances – don’t let it pass you by.  Your vote matters, your voice matters.  And tomorrow, across the state, you get a say in what happens with your tax dollars and in your downtown and your city hall.  Visit http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/upcoming/index.html to find out what’s on the ballot, where your polling place is and even how to register to vote on election day if you aren’t already.

Here are a few important issues on the ballot that we feel strongly about and we urge you to consider what they mean for your community when you’re in the voting booth tomorrow:

Statewide Question 2:  Bond Issue

“Do you favor a $15,000,000 bond issue for the construction of new energy-efficient affordable homes for low-income seniors, the adaptive reuse of structures for homes for low-income seniors and the repair and weatherization of existing homes for low-income seniors, which will create jobs and will be matched by an estimated $22,600,000 in private and other funds?”

We are all aging. Our communities are ready to recognize the capabilities, resources and needs of older adults, with plans to meet the needs of older adults in flexible ways that support healthy and active aging across a person’s lifespan, promotes the inclusion and contributions of older adults in all areas of community life, respects the self-determination and independence of older adults and protects those older adults who are most vulnerable. Currently, Maine only has enough resources to build 200-250 affordable homes each year. That housing is spread across all populations – working families, those requiring supportive housing, and seniors. The additional homes that can be built for seniors across Maine are urgently needed. A portion of this bond’s proceeds will also be dedicated to home repair and weatherization, allowing more seniors to safely and affordably remain in their own homes.

This bond isn’t about prioritizing elders over the working Mainers, it is about deliberately considering the needs of all Mainers in our communities.

Statewide Question 3:  Bond Issue

“Do you favor an $85,000,000 bond issue for construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities and equipment related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit and bicycle and pedestrian trails, to be used to match an estimated $121,500,000 in federal and other funds?”

Transportation is much more than roads and bridges, yet these are the foundation of our existing system and the need for repairs is ongoing and significant. GrowSmart Maine believes that improvements and maintenance to existing roads and bridges are essential to our communities and our economy.  Roads and bridges should be safe and accessible for all appropriate users as stated in Maine’s Complete Streets Policy, http://www.maine.gov/mdot/completestreets/ and our investments should reflect this.

In addition, GrowSmart Maine supports multi-modal transportation investments – incorporating marine, bus, rail, bike and trails – which enhance livable communities and encourage growth within existing downtowns. These investments also complement our current automobile-centric system by offering more choices in how we move from place to place; also relieving congestion and reducing wear on roads and bridges.

Portland Local Referendum Question 2:

Do you favor the change in the City Ordinance(s) proposed by citizen petition as provided below?

Shall “An Ordinance to Add a City-wide Scenic Viewpoint Protection Tool to Portland’s Zoning Ordinance; to Save the View of Portland’s Working Harbor from Upper Fore Street as the First Protected Scenic Viewpoint; and to Require Certain Information to be Provided to the Public as part of a Zone Change Request, with a retroactive effective date of May 26, 2015,” a summary and a copy of which is printed below, be adopted?” (ordinance goes on for 2 pages of the ballot).

Question 2 is counterproductive and sends the wrong message to the people who are willing to invest in our economic well-being and future. If passed, Question 2 would create an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy, imposing such subjective criteria that it would make developing and doing business in Portland too high-risk for most who want to engage in this city. Unquestionably, the referendum effort targets the redevelopment of the Portland Co. site on Fore Street. What we see with the Portland Co. project is a creative and innovative development that would actually expand public access to the waterfront while protecting critical viewsheds as outlined in Portland’s current Master Plan. As Maine’s largest city, Portland’s action could set precedents for the entire state, with profound repercussions.

We urge you to look carefully at the above measures and vote your voice tomorrow, Tuesday, November 3rd.  Please consider voting yes on Statewide Bond Issues 2 and 3 and No on Portland’s Question 2.