Archive for August, 2013

Breaking: Democrat Eloise Vitelli Wins Maine Senate District 19 Special Election

Posted on August 27, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Eloise Vitelli chosen as Democratic candidate for Dist. 19 special election on Aug. 27. Seen here with David Sinclair (left) and Will Neilson (right). Photo credit to Times Record.

Eloise Vitelli chosen as Democratic candidate for Dist. 19 special election on Aug. 27. Seen here with David Sinclair (left) and Will Neilson (right). Photo credit to Times Record.

10 pm Update: Democrat Eloise Vitelli is projected to be the winner of the SD 19 special election with a 4621 vote total over Paula Benoit’s 4339 and Daniel Stromgren’s 357 tallies.

Senate President Justin Alfond released the following statement:

    “Congratulations to Eloise on her win tonight. As someone who has helped thousands of Mainers get to work and start businesses, Eloise is the right person for the job as Maine’s next State Senator. I know she will stand up for the people of her community, and I look forward to working with her as we help grow our economy and put more Mainers back to work.

    The people of Maine spoke strongly tonight. They want lawmakers who are going to stand up to the LePage approach and instead work collaboratively to get things done to move our state forward.”

=====

7pm Update via BDN: Earlier reports of ballot shortages were erroneous. Extremely high turnout continues to be seen in all districts:

    Topsham Town Clerk Ruth Lyons said at 5:30 p.m. that turnout was “huge.” However, despite reports by other media, Topsham did not run out of ballots, Lyons said.

    At 5:30 p.m., Topsham still had 1,500 to 2,000 blank ballots, as well as another 600 absentee ballots at the town office, “if it came to that,” Lyons said

    Clerks all over the district, which includes all of Sagadahoc County and the Lincoln County town of Dresden, said they had seen high numbers of voters.

    In this special election, clerks and poll workers will count the ballots by hand, which could slow the reporting of results, some election officials said.

5PM Update shows very high turnout and even one municipality running out of ballots:

    Voters are turning out in surprisingly large numbers across Senate District 19 today as residents decide who should fill the year remaining on the term of Sen. Seth Goodall.

    In Topsham, where officials eventually ran out of ballots, Ruth Lyons, the top voting official, said turnout was “heavy” at 11 a.m. In Bowdoin, the town clerk counted 150 ballots this morning and predicted higher turnout than for the June school referendums in that town.

    In Bath, City Clerk Mary Small said turnout had been “brisk.” By 3:30, Small said that 1,500 ballots, including absentee ballots, had been cast.

    In Topsham, meanwhile, voting was halted temporarily because the polling place had run out of ballots.

Goodall-headshot-colorWhen now former Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall announced in June that he was accepting the New England Regional SBA Administrator position, that set up the need for a special election to fill his Senate District 19 (Arrowsic, Bath, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Georgetown, Perkins Twp., Phippsburg, Richmond, Topsham, West Bath, and Woolwich in Sagadahoc County and Dresden in Lincoln County) seat.

There are three candidates vying for the coveted spot, which Goodall held for three terms: Former State Senator Republican Paula Benoit of Phippsburg (who served previously from 2006-8 and was defeated by Goodall), Maine Women’s Hall of Fame Democrat Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic, the Program and Policy Development Maine Centers Director for Women, Work, and Community, and Green Independent Daniel Longley Stromgren of Topsham. All three ran as Maine Clean Election Act candidates.

While Vitelli, who has spent decades working for Maine people and fostering women’s business growth efforts, has won endorsements from Bath Iron Works, International Association of Machinists—Maine Lobstermen, Local 207, Rep. Chellie Pingree and even had Democratic gubernatorial candidate and current Congressman Mike Michaud out knocking on doors for her campaign, former Blaine House director, Baxter LePage blogger and First Lady Ann LePage’s assistant Paula Benoit has found herself caught in the latest controversy caused by Governor Paul LePage (PPH, “Republican lawmakers: LePage said Obama ‘hates white people'”):

paula baxter

    Benoit said Thursday that LePage’s alleged comment about President Barack Obama hating white people has been overhyped by the media and is distracting voters from more important issues such as jobs, taxes and economic development.

“[The LePage controversy] isn’t affecting this election from where I stand,” said Benoit. “I’m just meeting people and going door to door and talking about myself. I’m not talking about the governor. All I say is that he sees a light at the end of the tunnel; it’s just that his message gets distorted.”

Several GOP insiders, however, have told the BDN that there is grave concern within the party that the latest LePage controversy will tip the race toward the Democrat Vitelli, so no one will talk about the issue publicly before the election.

Whether or not those in attendance will indeed come forward publicly remains to be seen; for his own part, Governor LePage offered a “non-apology” apology to Republican legislators. Benoit at a debate last week made numerous judgmental and disparaging remarks about her experiences meeting with SD 19 constituents while knocking on doors, echoing LePage’s infamous “get off the couch and get a job” speech at last year’s Maine Republican Party convention.

Polls opened at 8-10 am, depending on town, and all will close tonight at 8 pm.

Eloise Vitelli, Paula Benoit and Daniel Stromgren. Photo via Times Record (Twitter).

Eloise Vitelli, Paula Benoit and Daniel Stromgren. Photo via Times Record (Twitter).

Turnout for the special election is already seemingly very high:

      Voters are turning out in surprisingly large numbers across Senate District 19 today as residents decide who should fill the year remaining on the term of Sen. Seth Goodall.

In Topsham, Ruth Lyons, the top voting official called the turnout “heavy” at 11 a.m. In Bowdoin, the town clerk predicted a higher turnout than for the June school referendums.

Lyons said she would not expect a result before midnight tonight.

3pm UPDATES:

Times Record midcoastnews tweets:

SENATE 19: Topsham vote warden Ruth Lyons calls turnout “heavy.” #mepolitics

SENATE 19: Absentee ballots being counted now, throughout the day, clerk says. #MePolitics

SENATE 19: Topsham election warden Ruth Lyons says result unlikely before midnight. #MePolitics

SENATE 19: Turnout ‘heavy’ as cash gushes at finish line http://www.timesrecord.com/news/2013-08-27/Front_Page/SENATE_19_Turnout_heavy_cash_gushes_at_finish_line.html … #mepolitics

SENATE 19: @bangordailynews and @MidcoastNews to provide up-to-the- minute returns tonight at their sites. #MePolitics

SENATE 19: No electronic counting in municipalities, big absentee counts to push tally late #MePolitics

House Majority Leader Seth Berry @sethberry (who himself considered running for the seat): Fantastic turnout this AM in Bowdoinham; more than half for Vitelli so far. See you at Sagadahoc/Dresden polls before 8 pm! #mepolitics

Megan Hannan ‏@meganhannan: Heavy voter turnout in Bath today! #mepolitics #SD19

POLL RESULTS BY TOWN

Sagadahoc County

Arrowsic:
Vitelli 144, Benoit 58, Stromgren 5.

Bath:
Vitelli 1159, Benoit 1009, Stromgren 68.

Bowdoin:
Benoit 285, Vitelli 213, Stromgren 19.

Bowdoinham:
Vitelli 408, Benoit 320, Stromgren 29.

Georgetown:
Vitelli 226, Benoit 156, Stromgren 14.

Phippsburg:
Benoit 390, Vitelli 315, Stromgren 11.

Richmond:
Vitelli 307, Benoit 280, Stromgren 54.

Topsham:
Vitelli 990, Benoit 924, Stromgren 99.

West Bath:
Benoit 313, Vitelli 275, Stromgren 22.

Woolwich:
Benoit 429, Vitelli 371, Stromgren

Lincoln County

Dresden:
Vitelli 213, Benoit 175, Stromgren 15.

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Guest Post by Rep. Justin Chenette (D-Saco): Saving Saco’s Culture

Posted on August 22, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

(Many thanks to Rep. Justin Chenette for informing us about this important effort to save a vital part of not just his community’s economy but a Maine and American icon. ~AP)

Link here to vote for Saco via Project Drive-In.

justin chenetteWhat if I told you that you could save a business from going under, save local jobs, and save a piece of our culture in the time it takes you to read this column?

Like most drive-in theaters across the country, the Saco Drive-In might have to close it’s doors after this season unless they convert from film to digital technology. The movie industry has basically told drive-ins that this is the last year they will be distributing film reels and moving entirely to digital distribution before next year. This is clearly in an effort to save millions of dollars on their part, but without assistance most theaters cannot make the switch and will have to close their doors. The cost for digital conversion aka the purchase of a digital projector is around $75,000. Not many people let alone business owners have that kind of cash lying around.

Back in December, owner Ry Russell, approached me with this dilemma and ever since we’ve been brainstorming ideas for how to save this place. We’ve raised cash through online donations, sold t-shirts and bracelets, held fundraisers including a massive yard sale, and now we need to ask for votes.


“A vote for the Saco Drive-In is as American as apple pie,” says owner Ry Russell, who hopes to use social media to mobilize support. “We have one of the largest followings on Facebook for drive-ins in the country.”

The Honda Motor Company has launched a national contest where drive-ins compete to receive a digital projector. The top 5 vote-getting theaters will receive one. Voting is taking place online through their Project Drive-In website as well as via text. People can vote once per day, every day through Sept. 9th. Honda even came out and filmed part of their official informational commercial here in Saco over the summer with interviews from myself, Ry Russell, and Camille Smalley of the Saco Museum.

From an economic perspective, Saco can’t afford to lose another local job creator. The Saco Drive-In employs many high school and college students. Much like Funtown, the drive-in is an attraction that helps draw tourists to our community which in turn drives up needed revenues to pay for essential services. If we are serious about that sign out by the highway that says open for business, then we have to, as a state, support our small businesses in a hands-on way.

SacoDriveIn_Cover1The drive-in is a quintessential piece to Saco’s rich dynamic culture and brings out the spirit of this community that makes it so special. I have fond memories as a kid of going to the Saco Drive-In with my family. Now I’m proud to represent the district that includes it as a State Representative. It’s really all about doing something with the whole family together; pulling up the car, opening the back, lying on blankets or lawn chairs and experiencing great cinemagic fanfare. I hope it’s around for many generations to come as it represents a bridge to an earlier time in our community’s history. The Saco Drive-In was built in 1939 and has been in business for 74 seasons. It is the second oldest still-operational drive-in in the entire country. Together, with your help, we can save this place.

Go online to thesacodrivein.com to learn more and vote everyday or text VOTE7 to 444999.

—–

Justin Chenette is the state representative for Saco. Follow him online at Facebook.com/JustinForSaco, Twitter.com/JustinChenette, & http://www.justinchenette.com.

History of the Saco Drive-In:

    A Saco, Maine attraction since 1939, the Saco Drive-In (originally the Motor-In Theatre) celebrates its 74th season this year. Since its inception, the Saco Drive-In has been a local, family owned business, originally operated by Italian immigrant Eugene V. Boragine. In 1909, Boragine immigrated to the United States via Ellis Island, and followed his American Dream from New York to Saco and started Maine’s first open air theatre on the “Avenue of America” known as Route 1. America’s second oldest still-operational drive-in entertains sold out crowds of film fans from May through October, a vote for the Saco Drive-In is as American as apple pie!
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Mike Michaud Putting Serious Miles on Those Cool NB Shoes In First Days of 2014 #MEGOV Campaign

Posted on August 20, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

A month ago, Maine People’s Alliance communications director and Tipping Point BDN blogger Mike Tipping had an funny and interesting post entitled “Mike Michaud Looking at Things”, a very clever “curated collection” per Tipping with dozens of shared photos of the Congressman on the job these past five sessions.

But what made the post even better was the follow-up a few days later: “Mike Michaud Looking at Mike Michaud Looking at Things!”

Hilarious stuff and so nice to see an elected official with a great sense of humor…

Fast forward to today, a few hours ago in fact. I finally posted at 2pm today my latest MPW piece“Mike Michaud Makes Gubernatorial Bid Official, Hits The Ground Running” about Mike’s official 2014 gubernatorial campaign announcement last Thursday in Lewiston.

mike SHOEZWithin the write up was a quick run-down of some of Mike’s appearances since his August 15 initial announcement:

  • Aug 15- Lewiston
  • Aug 16- Millinocket, Scarborough
  • Aug 17- Portland, Bath, Walpole, Owls Head, Hancock
  • Aug 18- Freeport
  • Aug 19- Portland

The story conclusion read:

    “Where will Mike Michaud appear next? Who knows- but from what is being witnessed so far, one can expect this will be an energetic, high profile and statewide campaign.”

With that supposedly rhetorical question set as a throw-away conclusion line, I hit “Send” and packed up the laptop to go do a data entering volunteer shift at Maine Democratic Party headquarters in Augusta.

And well… I now know exactly how Tipping felt on July 15, as I had only just gotten partway into the first stack of completed cards less than an hour later, when a very familiar face entered the office!

MDP Communications Director Lizzy Reinholt, State Senator Colleen Lachowicz and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rep. Mike Michaud today in Augusta

MDP Communications Director Lizzy Reinholt, State Senator Colleen Lachowicz and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rep. Mike Michaud this afternoon in Augusta

It was nice to greet and chat with Mike, on his way to Portland this evening and then back up to Bangor for an event tomorrow afternoon.

Goodness knows how many stops he plans on making between those two cities- at this point, nothing would surprise me. But at this rate, he’s gonna wear out those cool New Balance shoes of his!

I dunno when the guy find time to sleep- but oh boy, I do like the energy we are seeing from Mike Michaud in this first week on the campaign trail! And like the stark differences between him and his competitors very much indeed.

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Mike Michaud Makes Gubernatorial Bid Official, Hits The Ground Running

Posted on August 20, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

U.S. Representative Mike Michaud announced his candidacy for Governor at a press conference held at the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston on Thursday. Michaud, a proponent of Maine made products, holds a pair of New Balance shoes. Morning Sentinel Staff photo by John Ewing

U.S. Representative Mike Michaud announced his candidacy for Governor at a press conference held at the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston on Thursday. Michaud, a proponent of Maine made products, holds a pair of New Balance shoes.
Morning Sentinel Staff photo by John Ewing

In what was an expected move, five term Congressman Mike Michaud formally announced his intentions to run for Governor of Maine last week. He chose Lewiston, long a stronghold of his and birthplace of Paul LePage, as the site of his announcement and immediately drew attention to his Republican rival’s long history of national attention grabbing, negative comments as he promised to restore dignity to the state.

    “The tone in Augusta has turned into endless strings of angry rants and partisan, personal attacks,” Michaud said. “It’s a shame and an embarrassment but it’s not the way we do things here in Maine. That’s not the Maine that I know. It’s not the Maine that we all love.”

    “A path that honors the hard work of Mainers who get up every day and punch the clock. Who fishes our seas, who builds our ships, who waits on tables, teaches our kids and cares for our elderly . . . who grows our food, who repairs our streets, who builds our houses. That’s who I’m here to fight for.”

    “We are at a crossroads. Personal and political attacks are standing in the way of progress. Our state has become a punch line on late night TV. An abrasive ‘my way or the highway’ agenda alienates and divides our people. There are too many folks who are hurting.”

Michaud showed his supporters his newly acquired, custom made New Balance campaign shoes- and then spent the next few days canvassing much of the state with stops Friday in his hometown of Millinocket (a meet-and-greet at the New England Outdoor Center) and even speaking with Republicans at Scarborough’s Summerfest that evening, kicking off a Portland Democratic canvas early Saturday morning before a 10 am rally for Sagadahoc Dem’s Eloise Vitelli (Senate District 19 candidate) in Bath.

Troy Jackson, Mike Michaud and Eloise Vitelli at Neighbor Helping Neighbor festival, benefitting the Bath Area Food Bank, at Library Park in Bath.

Troy Jackson, Mike Michaud and Eloise Vitelli at Neighbor Helping Neighbor festival, benefitting the Bath Area Food Bank, at Library Park in Bath.

From Bath, Mike and Maine’s new Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, who is currently considering a run for Michaud’s 2CD open seat and expected to formally announce soon himself, traveled to host the Hancock County Dems’ Great Democracy Auction fundraiser with fellow Dems and 2CD hopefuls State Senator Emily Cain and Bangor City Councillor Joe Baldacci- but first, Mike had a few more stops at the Lincoln County Democrats Lobster Bake in Walpole and in Owls Head, for the Knox County Democrats summer Lobster Bake.

Sunday, Mike and NH Governor Maggie Hassan were at the Maine Democratic Party’s lobster bake in Freeport, then Monday he cheerfully manned the phones in Portland, calling supporters and ending the day with an interview of WCSH’s “207”.

He spoke of his experiences in the Legislature and of how he intends to work with members of both parties, as well as laid out his plans and focuses as Governor.

Where will Mike Michaud appear next? Who knows- but from what is being witnessed so far, one can expect this will be an energetic, high profile and statewide campaign.

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Pingree testifies at Augusta hearing on food safety rules

Posted on August 20, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

At a Monday public hearing in Augusta attended by over 150 people, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree urged a top Obama Administration official, Michael Taylor, the Deputy Commissioner for Food Safety at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to create food safety rules that don’t place an unnecessary burden on smaller farmers that grow a variety of crops. Pingree spoke of her own experiences, as she has been involved in Maine farming and farm policy for forty years and currently owns a farm on the island of North Haven where she raises a variety of vegetables as well as chicken, turkeys, pigs and goats.

She spoke of the importance of family farms and farmers markets to our communities, of Maine’s aging population as a whole and specifically of our family farmers, and the fact that Maine is 28th in per capita income- yet more and more young people are coming into the family farm industry as their sole income.

A portion of her address:

    “One-size-fits-all regulations will put New England farmers out of business. The size of regulation must match the amount of risk, and the loss of hundreds of farms cannot be an unintended consequence of the food safety rules.”

    “These are not factory farms, or single commodity operations, they are family run, diversified farms. They are diversified because that has traditionally been the most successful way to yield even a modest profit – that is what enables them to stay on the land for another generation.”

    “I remain very concerned about the impact of the rules on small producers and processors. Let me be clear: for operations of that scale, these additional costs will put farms and processors out of business, and it will permanently change the landscape in states like Maine. Unfortunately, the FDA’s definitions of ‘farm’ and ‘facility’ are confusing and do not provide clarity to farmers for determining whether they are subject to one or both rules. Congress did not intend for a single operation to be subject to both regulations, yet this is what FDA appears to codify with the term ‘farm mixed-type facility’.”

    “Part of running a successful agricultural operation is not only growing food but also selling food and preparing it to be sold. I am concerned that many farms will come under the full weight of both rules, including farms that are involved in on-farm processing and aggregation activities.”

More via BDN:

Paul Birdsall of Penobscot’s Horsepower Farm: “These rules are unacceptable. You’re gonna be putting farms out of business.”

Ag Committee’s Rep. Brian Jones (D-Freedom): “I challenge you to point out one case of locally produced, locally sold, locally consumed produce that’s resulted in a fatality. You’re more likely to be struck by lightning.”

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