Bonnie Titcomb Lewis, Democrathttp://www.bonnieformainehouse.comFacebook
Office Sought: Representative - District 67
Occupation: Education Advancement
Bonny Eagle High School: 1960-1965 (HS)
University of New Hampshire - Keene State College: 1965-1966
University of Southern Maine: 1967-1971 (Bachelor of Science degree in English and History)
*Various additional professional development courses
I am a single mother of three adult children: 45 year old daughter (hospice nurse), 34, year old son (building contractor), 32 year old son (jeweler)
I have four grandchildren all in public schools or college.
Why are you running for office? Dedicated legislative service is my passion, as it enables us to enrich opportunity for our districts and ensure sensible public policy here in Maine. Unfortunately, the focus in Augusta of late seems to have been division rather than cooperative problem solving. It is my desire to step back into public service now when issues are exceptionally challenging, and strong, bi-partisan leadership is of greatest importance. During my prior legislative service, our politically shared priority was to above all else meet the needs of our citizens, municipalities, and small businesses. I served in the Maine Senate during similarly challenging times, working on the Appropriations Committee and chairing committees that legislated without the burden of strict and counterproductive partisanship. The outcome was public input, healthy debate, cooperation , and In the end, policy that served Maine well. I was recognized as a fierce advocate, informed and prepared to speak for my constituents, but I was also known as a partner in reaching cooperative solutions. Today, there are significant issues that must be addressed and resolved in a manner that is both fiscally and socially responsible, and that rebuilds lost public trust. Maine deserves the most able and positive thinking representation at the table for that discussion, and I hope to be there.
A former English/history teacher and coach turned activist, I began my political career leading the 1986-1987 Citizens Against Nuclear Trash (CANT) fight against the Federal government in their mission to dump the nation's 80,000 metric tons of high-level nuclear waste in the Sebago Lake Watershed. As a result, I engaged with citizens, businesses and leaders at all levels of state and federal government, and we won our battle . As a result, I went on to serve three terms in the Maine Senate (1988-1994) representing 17 towns in York, Cumberland, and Oxford counties. I served on the Committees overseeing Health and Human Resources, Agriculture, and chaired the Committees on Energy and Natural Resources and Aging, Retirement and Veterans. I also served on the Appropriations Committee. In 1994, I was a primary candidate for the first Congressional District. During my time in office and thereafter , I have been appointed to both national and select legislative/executive committees dealing with pensions, education and environment.
I was recognized twice to receive a Toll Fellowship by the Council of State Governments for leadership in government, one of only 48 leaders from all branches of government honored nationally each year., the second year serving as class president.
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
Across the board on every issue, prevention has proven to be a lot less costly than clean up! Healthcare is no exception. The impact of expansion not only promises health for more Mainers through treatment and preventative care, it also promises to have a beneficial economic impact on our economy. Currently, hospitals are being crippled with emergency free care as more and more uninsured families are forced to use the ER as their care provider. In such a situation, who would do otherwise when faced with the needs of their seriously ill child or family member? Unfortunately, the ripple affect means a shift toward higher hospital costs to make up the loss, consequential increased insurance premiums and... more people unable to afford insurance. It is a vicious cycle. Expansion of Medicaid would protect the health of our citizens and communities, all the while creating jobs, strengthening the economy, and supporting hospitals. It is projected that our economy will also see a $1 million per day boost through the creation of thousands of related jobs and overall enhanced economic activity. With expansion, we can reach 70,000 uninsured Mainers – including 3,000 veterans – and as has been evidenced in other states, the results at every level will be positive.
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?Yes
What, if anything, would you change about welfare?As we discuss welfare, it will be most important to also discuss the economic disparity in our society and the need for a strong and fair economy that protects needy families and puts people to work. The Maine benefits we offer are intended to be a safety net, not a life style, in place to support those who are struggling to stay afloat and get on their feet. Access to nutrition and healthcare are critical components for all, and especially children sitting in classrooms trying to learn --too many, too often hungry. Without safety nets for those who need help, we will not realize a healthy, safe and more prosperous Maine. Distribution of important social services must respond to need and demand thoughtful accountability, ensuring that limited resources are going only to those who qualify. Fraud in our welfare program or any state program for that matter is unacceptable.
Do you support raising the state’s minimum wage from $7.50 an hour?Yes
By how much?Suggesting that a family can survive on $7.50 an hour does not pass the straight-face test. Even at $10 per hour it would be a challenge, but more than 135,000 Mainers and their families would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage to that level. I would support that progress. At the current minimum wage, full time workers require welfare assistance in order to even survive. Maine’s minimum wage hasn’t increased in four years, so both now and as costs of living escalate, how does $300 a week pay for food, housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare, child care and more? If anyone can offer an answer to that, I am listening but at a time when 400 of the wealthiest Americans own more wealth than the entire bottom-half of the country, perhaps we should have a meaningful discussion about what $300 a week means to income equality.
Would you support legalization of marijuana?Yes
Please explain your position on legalization?Like alcohol and tobacco, legalized marijuana should be regulated, taxed and strictly controlled. By legalizing its use for adults, we would prevent criminalization of users who otherwise have no criminal intentions and thus, will avoid enormous judicial and other costs. Too many non-violent citizens have already been charged for marijuana use, incarcerated in our over-crowded jails, and now carry disabling criminal records. The cost on many levels has been unnecessarily large. Let's redirect our attention and resources away from marijuana and focus on the epidemic opiate drug problem we face, or frankly, are not facing here in Maine. That is the deadly elephant in our living room. It is a crisis that is growing all the while we debate the comparatively benign use of marijuana,