2014 maine elections
Voters Guide
2014 maine elections
Voters Guide
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Lauren M Besanko, Green Independent


Office Sought: Representative - District 39

Age: 25

Occupation: Self-employed


University of Southern Maine, BA in Criminology and Psychology, class of 2012

Université Sainte-Anne, French Summer Immersion Program, 2012.


Not married, not children.

Hometown: Portland

Why are you running for office? I'm running because there is a momentum behind the green movement right now, and it's growing stronger all the time. Hundreds of thousands of people participated in the people's climate march and flood Wall street protests in New York recently. These protesters plus millions of others from around the US who stood in solidarity demand change now. The established two-party controlled system of government isn't conducive to making changes without Wall Street's consent. They are not acting on behalf of the best interest of the nation to invest in green and sustainable infrastructure or create policy to mend the gross and growing economic inequality but are instead acting in the interest of Wall street's bottom lines. I'm running because Maine is in a position to set a precedent for the nation; we have a record amount of Green's on the ballot with aligning plans. The Green Party has already been a force behind wins on marijuana legalization and anti-public park privatization initiatives here in Portland. The more greens in office, the better we can influence change on policy that helps Mainers. For example, those currently holding office in Maine have abandoned the budget crisis at USM. I would not do this. I would work to increase taxes on the wealthiest 1% of Maine to make up for shortfalls in the budget because education is key to Maine's future. I care about doing my part to help Maine be the best place it can be for all who live here, and that's why I'm running.

Poltical Experience:

Canvassing volunteer for 2009 marriage equality campaign.

Get out the vote volunteer for 2012 marriage equality campaign.

Protect Portland Parks staffer, 2014.

The federal health care law has offered to pay states to expand their Medicaid programs to provide health coverage to low income Mainers. Do you support Medicaid (or MaineCare) expansion?Yes

It is egregious that Paul Lepage has been rejected allocated money from the federal government for the sake of political theater. The money exists, yet he won't accept it on the principle that it would create even more of a debt crisis. The problem with this thinking is that if we don't find upfront costs for health care, people will have to either find other means to pay (which most people cannot do in this economy) or go without care. It comes back on the tax payer to pay for this care, or now exacerbated health problem caused from delayed care. Prevention has proven to be more cost effective, so we need to fund this not only for the sake of saving money, but for the sake of people's well-being. That being said, we must apply this logic to the entire population. Universal health care cost tax payers less in other countries than non-universal healthcare costs us here. Regulation on pharmaceutical prices, medical procedures and industry within the health care system will bring costs down, meaning we won't have to worry about higher taxes. We don't need to pay more, we just need to fix the inefficiencies within this system to allocate our money toward the patient instead of allocating it to the insurance companies.

Reform of the state’s public assistance programs has been the focus of debates in the State House and on the campaign trail. Do you believe that the state’s welfare programs are too generous?No

What, if anything, would you change about welfare?No, the opposite is true. Homelessness is rampant in Maine, and until they have shelter and stability, "generous" is far from the word I would use. We hear each and everyday about the poor state of this economy and how there are not enough jobs. How is it then that we can turn around and cut the safety net of those exact people who have found themselves unemployed due to this economy? We must deny this punishment of the poor and move toward funding safety net programs so people who are in difficult financial positions can concern themselves with finding work instead worrying about going hungry or becoming homeless. That being said, more work needs to be available in order for people find jobs so they no longer have to rely on safety nets. Progressive tax reform would lead to more money becoming available in our state budget to fund safety net programs and sustainable and worker co-op job creation programs.

Do you support raising the state’s minimum wage from $7.50 an hour?Yes

By how much?I support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The reason I support the $15 an hour minimum wage is because if we had kept up with inflation and productivity increases from the 1970's, we would be making $22 an hour minimum. So $15 is a compromise. We must stop funneling the money that comes from the value creation of the worker to the top, or we will never see income inequality and economic stagnation improve. The plan is for larger companies to implement this almost immediately, and smaller businesses, which much of Maine is made up of, will implement it gradually. Any up-front costs businesses encounter will improve as soon as more money beings to be spent on goods and services within the community. We can also create tax-incentive programs for small businesses to offset higher pay-outs to their workers.

Would you support legalization of marijuana?Yes

Please explain your position on legalization?Yes, I am behind legalization. Marijuana leads to drastically lower societal harms than alcohol, so there is no reason why people shouldn't have the freedom to use this substance. What sets me apart from my opponent is how I want to see legalization implemented. I want Maine farmers to be the primary suppliers for users in Maine. I don't want to see this newly legal yet already existing market over-run by out-of-state corporate growers. It should be taxed lower than $50 an ounce so that smaller growers won't be priced out of the market therefore creating a competing black market. I would work with caregivers to make sure policies align with the needs of their patients.