Sunday, March 9, 2014
I have a confession to make: Like millions of Americans, I enjoy playing video games.
I also like to knit.
But during the last year, I've spent little time doing either. These are my hobbies, and they have absolutely nothing to do with where I stand on the issues or why I'm running for office.
As a social worker for more than a decade, I've dedicated my life to giving young children, teenagers and families -- who have had the deck stacked against them -- an opportunity for success.
I've seen firsthand how the recession has made it even harder for many of these children. More and more middle-class families are working harder for less and less. The pressure of making ends meet is crushing.
Yet for the past two years, the politicians in Augusta have made it harder to live and work in Maine.
Maine is one of only a handful of states where the economy slid backwards. While every other New England state saw their economies emerge from the recession, Maine lost 1,000 jobs in 2011 alone.
Republicans promised to create jobs, yet they haven't delivered.
Instead, they've passed policies that hurt middle-class families and small businesses.
We've seen tax cuts for the rich paid for on the backs of seniors and retired state workers. We've see thousands of seniors, working families and people with disabilities lose access to health care.
We've seen the politicians in Augusta put the insurance industry before Maine people. They stripped consumer protections to help grow the profit margin of big insurance.
Now, insurance companies can charge middle-age Mainers 500 percent more than younger Mainers. They also can increase rates up to 10 percent with no prior public review.
We've seen Republicans push policies that undercut our public schools by siphoning tax dollars away to virtual or charter schools.
This is the wrong direction for Maine.
There is a lot at stake for the future of Maine families.
Voters have a choice to make: Do you want to go forward or back?
I believe Mainers should be climbing into the middle class. They shouldn't be falling out of it. We need solutions that get people back to work for decent pay and good benefits.
We need to make sure all children get access to a good education, no matter where they come from.
This is serious stuff.
That's why it's surprising to see the Maine GOP launch a childish attack against me for playing online video games. They cherry-picked comments I made as a private citizen in an online game -- some of which are 7 years old. And, they took them out of context in order to paint me in an unfair light.
They are desperate to distract us from the issues that really matter -- and their failed record.
Instead, they want to mock me. I won't stand for that kind of bullying.
I stand up for at-risk children and teenagers every day. I teach them to stand up for themselves against exactly this kind of bullying.
Voters deserve to hear about the issues. My score on Angry Birds, Words with Friends, or how often I play World of Warcraft has nothing to do with getting Mainers back to work, lowering health care costs, or improving Maine schools.
Now, let's get back to the issues that Maine people care about.
Colleen Lachowicz of Waterville is the Democratic candidate for Senate District 25. Her opponent is Republican Sen. Thomas Martin, of Benton.