While I don’t have children, it’s for children’s well-being — their present and future existence — that I will be voting.

Locally, my city councilor is not up for re-election, but if I was in a ward voting for a council candidate, I would make sure that candidate understood that a strong school system is one of the primary reasons people move to an area.

My representative to the Legislature is unopposed, but Tom Longstaff would have gotten my vote in any case. He — like Henry Beck, who I’m voting to be my state senator — have supported expanding Medicaid to get more children the health care they need and provide drug treatment for affected parents, supported expanding Head Start, and increasing child-care subsidies. Henry and Tom have been stalwarts in the fight to keep the governor from cutting services to children that feed, clothe and shelter them. As a side benefit, Beck also understands the need to support small businesses and has introduced legislation that has helped our small winery and distillery compete on a more level playing field in the industry.

Waterville is in the 1st Congressional District, so my vote for Chellie Pingree means I have a representative in D.C. who understands the needs of children, struggling working families, and the importance of fighting for legislation to make their lives better.

Waterville has been in the 2nd District in the past. If that were so now, my vote would be for Emily Cain because she understands the importance of having a strong voice for those who struggle when jobs disappear. She supported the creation of the national monument in Maine and it is already bringing hundreds of visitors to an area that has experienced nothing but loss over the past several years. Kids need parents with jobs that pay well and Emily has helped make that happen. Emily will work to create other new opportunities to make rural Maine’s economy thrive.

Of course my vote for president will be for Hillary Clinton. She began her career working for and serving on the board of the Children’s Defense Fund, an organization whose stated purpose is “to ensure every child a healthy start, a head start, a fair start, a safe start, and a moral start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.” She co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families as first lady of Arkansas, and went on to support family medical leave, universal preschool, and reproductive rights to make every child a wanted child. She’s tackled the problems of foster care and adoption of children with special needs, health care, prenatal care, and supported the creation of pathways to legal citizenship for parents of children born here. Again, a side benefit is that she will be a clear example for young girls that they can grow up to be anything they set their minds to.


As for the referendum questions, while I do admit to inhaling when I was younger, I want a sane policy for legalizing and taxing marijuana. I’m voting no on Question 1 mostly because with marijuana legal, Big Marijuana will be the next Big Tobacco. I’ve seen what they’ve done with their advertising to entice young people to smoke and I don’t want them substituting marijuana for tobacco as their market in tobacco shrinks.

Question 2, once again, tries to help communities who are struggling with trying to support their schools in the face of increasing property taxes. I’m voting for it. Mainers overwhelmingly supported the 55 percent for education referendum several years ago. While subsequent governors and legislatures haven’t bothered to make that happen, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying to impress on them the fact that the people of Maine support a strong state effort to fund our schools.

We have a couple of guns but I support Question 3 and reasonable background checks. In places with comprehensive background checks, fewer women are killed by their domestic partners. In Maine, over half of our murders each year are due to domestic violence, and women and children are the victims. ‘Nuff said.

I’ve already written a column about why Bruce and I as owners of a small winery and distillery support Question 4 on raising the minimum wage. If you missed it, here’s the short version. More money in people’s pockets means more money for them to spend in our tasting room. And, yes, we do pay significantly above the minimum wage to our employees.

I’m tired of electing officials with less than a majority of votes. If you wish Eliot Cutler had been elected in either 2010 or 2014, you should be voting yes on Question 5. Imagine the impact on children’s lives had anyone but Paul LePage been elected. After six years of him as governor, we have more children in Maine living in deep poverty, more drug-addicted parents, less accessible and affordable child care, fewer children with health insurance, and fewer parents getting support for their newborns, or their children with disabilities. A side benefit, there appears to be less negative campaigning with ranked-choice voting. I’m all for that.

Not that it’s really about kids, I’ll vote yes on the transportation bond for lots of reasons.

I hope you join me in voting as if your life depended on kids. In the future, it will.

Karen Heck is a longtime resident and former mayor of Waterville.

(Editor’s note: A passage in the online version of this column was changed to more accurately reflect the impact of expanding MaineCare on health-care access for children)

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