This year, the Maine ballot features one bond issue and one constitutional amendment. Following passage by a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate of the state legislature, bond issues and constitutional amendments in Maine must be approved by voters in order to take effect.
Q1: Should the state issue $105 million in bonds to improve Maine’s transportation infrastructure?
If approved, the state will issue up to $105 million in bonds to pay for improvements of roads, bridges, airports, railroads and other projects. The funds will be divided among agencies as follows: $100 million for the Department of Transportation, $4 million for the Department of Environmental Protection and $1 million for the Department of Economic and Community Development.
The Department of Transportation will use $85 million to improve highways, secondary roads and bridges and $15 million to improve facilities and equipment associated with railroad, marine and public transit, as well as bicycle, pedestrian and aviation facilities. These funds are expected to be matched by $137 million in funding from local and federal sources.
The $4-million bond issue for the Department of Environmental Protection will fund a grant program to repair or replace culverts at stream crossings, with the goal of improving fish and wildlife habitats and minimizing flood and storm water hazards. The grants will be available to local governments, conservation commissions and districts and private non-profit organizations.
The Department of Economic and Community Development will administer $1 million of the bond issue, which will go towards the renovation of a wharf and bulkhead at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland to support marine research in the state.
An editorial in the Bangor Daily News supported the bond issue, but warned that the state should not rely on bonds to pay for road repairs and improvements in the years to come. “Voters should approve the bond in November, but bonding is not a sustainable—or prudent—way to repeatedly cover the costs of routine work,” the editorial read. Indeed, Maine voters have approved similar or nearly identical bond issues for transportation infrastructure in nine of the past 14 years (in the other five years, no such bond issue was on the ballot).
Q2: Should the state allow people with disabilities to use an “alternative signature” to sign petitions?
This constitutional amendment would allow individuals with disabilities, who may be unable to sign a petition themselves, to use an alternative signature to sign a citizens’ initiative or people’s veto petition. An alternative signature may take the form of a stamp or signature of an authorized voter registered in Maine signing on the person’s behalf, in their presence and at their direction.
Alternative signatures for people with physical disabilities can already be used in Maine to register to vote, change political parties and sign nomination petitions. The constitutional amendment would make state elections more accessible by allowing all people, regardless of physical ability, to support the addition of referendum questions to the ballot.
In 2001, a federal judge declared that a provision in the Maine Constitution barring people “under guardianship for reasons of mental illness” from voting was unconstitutional. Prior to that decision, however, two proposed amendments to strike that provision from the constitution, in 1997 and 2000, failed to pass when posed to voters.
A Portland Press Herald editorial voiced support for Question 2, saying the motion is uncontroversial.
Town council and school board members representing districts 1, 2 and 6 in Brunswick are up for election this year. Five of the six races are uncontested, and four of the six candidates are incumbents in their respective positions.
David Watson is running for reelection as the District 1 Town Council representative, and Stephen Walker is running for reelection as the District 2 Town Council representative.
The candidates for the District 6 Town Council representative position are Toby McGrath ’99 and Jim Trusiani. Both have experience in public service. McGrath, current managing director with Drummond Woodsum Strategic Consulting, was a deputy chief of staff to Senator Angus King (I-ME) and chief of staff to former Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives Glenn Cummings (D-ME). Trusiani, an equipment manager with Crooker Construction, served on the Topsham Board of Selectmen, the Sagadahoc County Budget Advisory Committee and several school district committees.
For the school board positions, Mandy Merrill is running for reelection in District 1, Elizabeth Sokoloff is running for reelection in District 6 and Elizabeth Bisson is running for her first term in District 2.
HOW TO VOTE
All voting will take place at Brunswick Junior High School on Tuesday, November 5. Polls will be open between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m..
If you live on campus, the municipal district in which you are registered to vote depends on your on-campus residence. Visit https://students.bowdoin.edu/bowdoin-votes/ to learn more.