AUGUSTA — A group of Maine business and community leaders led by Maine’s former chief justice have launched a statewide campaign urging residents to vote in favor of a bond supporting the state’s seven community colleges next month.

Citizens for Higher Education, chaired by former Maine Chief Justice Daniel Wathen, is advocating for the $15.5 million bond that will appear as question no. 5 on Maine’s November ballot. Four other bonds, including ones for Maine’s universities and roads and bridges, will also be on this year’s ballot.

The bond will allow the community colleges to expand and upgrade buildings and classrooms to provide education and job training to more students. The group says that despite the large growth in community colleges over the last decade, many students aren’t able to enroll because there isn’t enough space.

Several television ads urging support of the bond will run up to the election, including one that profiles David Richardson of Ludlow. Richardson got a job at Bison Pumps in Houlton thanks to his education at Northern Maine Community College’s precision machining program after losing his job at a mill.

“Voting yes on 5 will build classrooms and add capacity so that thousands of Mainers will have the same opportunities I had,” Richardson said in a statement.

Citizens for Higher Education’s supporters include former Maine Gov. John Baldacci and John McKernan as well as President and Chief Executive Office of L.L. Bean Chris McCormick.

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