We need to elect a governor who is proud of the state, one who supports the will of the people as expressed in referendum votes, and one who understands that the duty of government is to protect and promote safe and healthy communities, good schools, and a prosperous Maine economy.

I want a governor who will truly put people ahead of politics and endorse and implement the will of the people when we vote to pass legislation and bonds for infrastructure and education. Imagine a governor who respects voters enough to expand health insurance protection to 70,000 working Mainers, implement the minimum-wage hike, and embrace ranked-choice voting.

I want a governor who understands that people’s health and wellness play a key part in the state’s ability to compete in the 21st century economy. A governor who understands that providing health insurance results in healthy workers who are key to a healthy economy and long-term economic gains for the whole state.

One who understands that thriving businesses are critical to Maine’s economy in the 21st century and who understands that the key to creating a thriving economy rests on an educated and healthy workforce, good broadband internet throughout the state, and clean power sources that protect the Maine brand.

Imagine a governor who provides opportunities to young people to stay in Maine and invites those who have risked their lives to come to this country to bring their entrepreneurial skills to our beautiful state. One who understands that we need to welcome all people into our economy, and who understands the importance of investing in human capital. Just because adults aren’t all able-bodied doesn’t mean they aren’t needed or can’t be productive workers.

Imagine a governor who understands that good government has to take the needs of its citizens into account. A governor who demands that the federal taxes we pay should be reinvested in Maine to build bridges and roads, and to provide cancer screenings to Mainers, Head Start classes to their children and grandchildren, and health services for those who need them.

That governor would work to ensure we have high-quality public education and services that enhance people’s productivity. Some of those services include affordable and accessible quality child care, supports for new parents, treatment for substance use disorders, promotion of wellness, making sure the water our kids are drinking is not contaminated with lead or arsenic, and that the air they are breathing is not contributing to their asthma.

Lastly, the governor I want to see in the Blaine House takes into account that children who are hungry aren’t learning, and makes sure those children’s nutritional needs are met. Who takes into account that parents are working two or three jobs and are still not able to make ends meet, and that there is a role government can play in changing that.

After eight years of policies that have dismantled basic government’s duty such as keeping children healthy, safe and alive; providing public health prevention services such as immunizations; protecting our air and water; and helping people stop smoking in a state where lung cancer is the No. 1 cancer killer, I want to elect a governor who will change course, not one who promises to continue dismantling the protections we have.

The only candidate who can be the governor we need and deserve is Janet Mills

No candidate and no party is perfect. But I am not about to risk more harm to the state. Progressives in this state need to think hard about the risk of either staying home or casting a vote for an unenrolled candidate — and whether it’s worth the risk that hundreds of thousands of Mainers will face if we continue the policies of the past 8 years.

I want a governor who has the most experience in government and one who will take the state in a new direction. I want a governor who 40 years ago was instrumental in starting the Maine Women’s Lobby because victims of domestic violence and sexual assault were thrown under the bus when the Legislature decided not to fund services. A governor who intuitively understands that survivors are telling the truth and isn’t afraid to say that. A governor who understands that that ability to control one’s body is a fundamental right.

If you want a governor whose family has included two generations of Democrats and Republicans dedicated to public service, one who is a fighter for Maine people and for a better future, I strongly urge you vote for Janet Mills. Get your friends to do vote for her, too, so that we finally have a governor of whom we can be proud.

Karen Heck is a resident and former mayor of Waterville.

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