I love following politics. Always have, and probably always will. There's something about the horse race that hooks me and keeps me interested. Certainly the national presidential race, despite two less than stellar candidates, IMHO, has had me hooked since the field was full of kooks, wannabes, and also-rans.
National politics tends to grab the lion's share of attention and interest, even among those who self-identify as junkies. Sadly, too many of these same folks ignore paying attention to local and state matters, which I think are more important, and affect voters more directly. There's an adage which says that "all politics is local." I'll go one step further and offer that rather than just local, "all politics is personal." Many people don't plug into local and state matters until they touch their lives in some way.
In the community where I live, we're served by Maine House District 105. Our incumbent, Mike Vaughan, is a staunch conservative, and will be running for his fourth term. That, in and of itself, ought to be reason to take notice. Three terms in Augusta is more than enough time to learn the ropes (term 1), and get something done. The second term, and a third, are more than enough time to have some tangible items of accomplishment. To my way of thinking, Mr. Vaughan has accomplished very little, other than towing the party line, and mimicking everything that troubles me about conservatism as it stands in 2008.
Vaughn is being opposed by a gentleman named David Van Wie, who hails from New Gloucester, which is one of the towns making up District 105 (the others being Durham, and parts of Lisbon). I don't know Van Wie, but he did stop by on Sunday, as he was out knocking on doors. Unfortunately, I was out back doing yard work and didn't hear him drive in. I did find his pamphlet tucked into our front door, with a note saying he had stopped by. Mr. Vaughan has never knocked on my door, asking for my vote. Part of the reason may be that I know Mr. Vaughan from my days of being a member of the Androscoggin County Republicans. When I left the party, he and I had a long discussion. I'm sure that he knows that his efforts to stop by would result in a discussion where he wouldn't find an agreeable, compliant constituent, so for him, it's not worth the effort. Legislators like Mr. Vaughan like to spend their time with people that agree with them, like most of the crowd over at As Maine Goes. He seems to enjoy regaling his fellow conservatives with his witty repartee, which consists of the usual Maine conservative blather about cutting taxes, making Maine more business friendly, blaming Governor Baldacci and Democrats for all that's wrong with Maine, etc. I actually find AMG worthwhile, at times, and a good source of Maine news, since we no longer have a statewide paper that serves that purpose.
In addition to not asking for my vote, Mr. Vaughan also hasn't responded to any emails I've sent him over the past six years, relative to issues and votes, as well as thoughts and opinions I've shared with him. Obviously, he is all-knowing, and doesn't need constituent input to get in the way of his right-wing agenda.
In my workforce position, I've had cause to contact him in a professional capacity. Last March, while attempting to raise awareness about the importance of middle-skills for Mainers, I set out to contact a good portion of Maine's house and senate delegation. I sent a well-written email to him, as part of my effort at building support for an important initiative that will move Mainers forward. Once again, Mr. Vaughan could not extend the courtesy, as a fellow professional, of acknowledging my email and ideas. Even worse, he once again ignored one of his constituents, which seems to be his modus operandi. Since he thinks so little of me, and my thoughts, opinions, and ideas, should he be getting my vote? [In all fairness to Mr. Vaughan, out of 75 communiques that I sent out to key legislators, community leaders, and other influential Mainers, I received one response, from a legislator from Auburn, Mark Paul Samson (D-Auburn)-JB]
His opponent, Mr. Van Wie, had a guest column in Sunday's Lewiston Sun Journal (Aug. 24), talking about Maine needing an energy strategy. I concur with that. In fact, I've been writing quite a bit about energy at my workforce blog, opining that Maine has an opportunity to get out in front on the energy issue. This post, and my post from yesterday, are examples of issues I've been highlighting, which I think our legislature ought to be thinking about.
Mr. Van Wie had some good points in his column, including the following;
"...we need to support investments in energy efficiency, wind power and in-state renewable energy, so we can keep our dollars working in the Maine economy. Our state must support small businesses and entrepreneurs in Maine who can help make it happen."
There were some points in his column that concerned me. Since I take issue with Mr. Vaughan's party line adherence, I'll also say that some of Van Wie's points seemed like so much of what's being spouted by the likes of Nancy Pelosi, "Dingy" Harry Reid, and other Democrat comrades. Still, Van Wie's private sector experience, as well as having served under one of Maine's best governors, Angus King, make him a candidate worthy of consideration.
Simply, what I'm looking for in a local representative is someone who has a mind of his/her own, understands the issues affecting Mainers, and is the kind of representative that is responsive to constituents, especially constituents that are knowledgeable about issues affecting the Pine Tree State.
I'll probably contact Mr. Van Wie to raise some of my concerns, and find out a bit more about him and his thoughts on representing the good people of our district. As a voter, I refuse to be ignored any longer. I also refuse to support candidates that are so filled with hubris that they think they know more than their constituents.