On the issues: U.S. Senatorial Candidate Lisa Savage

Sun, 10/18/2020 - 9:30pm

    Penobscot Bay Pilot has posed questions to each candidate running for U.S. Congressional seats, providing the opportunity for the public to better understand their position on issues important to the state and nation.

    Candidates responding with their individual written answers will have their responses stored in the Pilot’s 2020 Election Resource Guide.

    Lisa Savage, Independent, is seeking election to represent Maine in the U.S. Senate.


    What are Maine's greatest strengths, and how do you hope to support them?

    Maine’s greatest strength is its people, who tend to be hardworking folks who take care of their families and help out their neighbors. I hope to support them by passing Medicare for All, which would ensure that everyone can access health care as a human right, and working for a Demilitarized Green New Deal, which would not only provide good union jobs, but also help to stave off a climate disaster. And we have to invest in preK-12 education and public higher education, so Maine people have the skills they need to be successful without being burdened with student debt.

    The natural beauty of our state is also a huge strength for most of us. Opposing the CMP Corridor is a major way I plan to support our forests, waterways, and wildlife.


    What are the greatest problems to address in Maine, and how do you intend to address them?

    Maine’s greatest problems are generally skyrocketing health care costs, a looming climate crisis that threatens our way of life, and a lack of economic opportunity. Medicare for All and a Demilitarized Green New Deal address all three of these issues simultaneously.


    What have you heard from Mainers during your campaign? What are their biggest concerns?

    Mainers are concerned about healthcare, the looming climate crisis, and making sure that they can provide for themselves and their families. Of course, they’re also concerned about the coronavirus and how we will get through this pandemic as quickly as possible. They’re also worried about social justice, ending our endless wars abroad, and addressing the opioid epidemic, and student debt.


    How will you protect and enhance Maine as spending bills are hammered out in Washington?

    I will work tirelessly to see that money is diverted from the Pentagon and towards funding for Medicare for All and a Demilitarized Green New Deal. I will also work to make sure that the wealthy are taxed fairly and that we leverage taxes on the wealthy and high earners to fund the education and health programs that Maine so desperately needs. I’d also work to get federal support for broadband as a public service and public housing.


    How should Maine approach the need for more workforce housing, as well as re-entry housing for the formerly incarcerated, and emergency shelter for those suffering through extended power outages?

    Maine needs to invest in public housing to ensure that everyone has a roof over their head as is their human right. I support rent control measures, as well, along with public transportation options that allow people live outside of job centers without having to rely on expensive cars or other private transportation options.


    On what committees would you like to serve, and why?

    With my background as a teacher and union negotiator, I would be well suited and interested in Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and I would of course be interested in powerful committees like Appropriations and Armed Services. I would also like to be involved in Energy and Natural Resources, where a Green New Deal could be promoted. And I would like to serve on Indian Affairs, due to my long-standing interest in addressing the concerns of our Indigenous population.


    The country has rarely been more polarized. How will you work to counter this trend?

    As an independent candidate, my candidacy, itself, addresses this trend. We have run a positive, issues-based campaign in a season characterized by partisan bickering.

    Maine has tended to be less polarized than other places, with a relatively large share of voters unenrolled in any party. Mainers tend to vote for people and issues over parties, often electing independents.

    Ranked-Choice Voting also allows for a broader spectrum of ideas to be considered and encourages people to form coalitions instead of simply attacking opponents. I will work to expand RCV to all 50 states by being RCV’s standard bearer, wherever it is considered in state legislatures.


    What is your position on the Trump Administration’s recent opening up of the Arctic to fossil fuel drilling, a move that, according to the New York Times, "overturns six decades of protections for the largest remaining stretch of wilderness in the United States”?

    Opening the Arctic to fossil fuel extraction is a terrible idea and will only contribute to the climate crisis that already threatens our very existece on this planet.


    Should federal land (and seas) be leased for privately-owned industrial and agricultural use?

    There are certainly instances where this makes sense, yes. For example, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is in charge of leasing space on the water for the development of offshore wind farming. That’s a fine and legitimate use of federal waters — we get money into the treasury and we get development of sustainable energy production. A win-win.


    How should Maine protect its natural resources?

    Firstly, we should not be allowing the CMP Corridor, which will not help address the climate crisis and will destroy miles and miles of pristine Maine wilderness.

    Beyond that, we should have strong and enforceable environmental regulations; we should encourage land preservation through more efforts like the programs that support small, sustainable woodlots through tax incentives; and recognizing Tribal sovereignty would empower indigenous people who have long been dedicated stewards resisting degradation of the natural environment.


    Maine’s economy relies on small and micro-businesses. How will you help the entrepreneur succeed in this state, especially given the pandemic?

    The most significant support to every small business in Maine would be enacting Medicare for All. This would eliminate pressure on employers to provide health insurance as a cost of doing business. Self-employed entrepreneurs would benefit, too.

    Next, small and micro-businesses rely on local customers with money to spend, especially given the pandemic. So, much of my covid-response plan directly helps them. We need rent and mortgage relief, a guaranteed basic income, and eviction moratoriums immediately.


    What is your position on law enforcement reform?

    We need to completely reimagine policing in the United States, as it is an institution with white supremacist roots. I would support federal incentives that encourage state and local governments to move funding from police departments into other public services that are more geared toward handling the issues that face our communities today: mental health workers, social workers, educators, and substance-use-disorder counselors. Police are being asked to do too many things for which they are neither trained nor equipped.

    I would also encourage the end of qualified immunity, change the standard for police misconduct from “willfulness” to “recklessness,” and enact national legislation that would bar the hire of police officers who have been fired for excessive force or discriminatory actions.

    Finally, in addition to a number of other reform measures, I would end any and all programs that funnel weapons of war into community police departments. We must demilitarize our police to increase safety in our communities.


    Do you believe that Roe vs. Wade should be a protected law? If so, how will you ensure that women across the U.S. will retain their right choose whether to have an abortion, or not.

    Roe vs. Wade should be respected as established precedent regarding a woman's right to choose whether to bear a child. I unequivocally support a woman’s right to an abortion. Also, under Medicare for All, full access to reproductive health care services regardless of income.

    As a senator, I will object to any federal law limiting a woman’s right to choose and I will not vote to seat any federal judge at any level who objects to the findings in Roe vs. Wade.


    What are your thoughts on Maine's response to the pandemic?

    By most measures, we are a shining example for the nation. Our governor has walked a fine line between public safety and parents’ and the business community’s wishes and has largely succeeded in protecting us from the worst possibilities.

    However, I am deeply troubled by the disproportionate impact on people of color here in Maine and we need to do more to address the underlying conditions of poverty and unequal access to health care that fuel this inequality.


    Maine is a predominantly white state. How should Maine communities, and individuals, address systemic racism?

    I am in favor of reparations and would look to convene a national discussion on reparations with a Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission led by people from impacted communities to understand and eliminate the legacy of slavery, xenophobia and Indigenous genocide that lives on as systemic racism.

    I would also encourage a systematic audit of our laws via an anti-racist filter and look to address a host of legacy issues with new legislation.

    Further, I would seek to end mass incarceration, which adversely affects people of color, and make for-profit prisons illegal.

    Finally, I would encourage the Small Business Administration to make available interest-free loans for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color for use in acquiring property and starting businesses.

    But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Every community needs to come to grips with our shared legacy and have deep and meaningful conversations about where we are as a country and how we have arrived here, regardless of racial make-up.

    What steps need to be taken to ensure there is no repeat scrambling to protect absentee voting through the Postal Service in future mid-term and general elections?

    It would probably be a good start to elect a chief executive who appoints postal service managers dedicated to upholding the important role of the USPS in our systems of democracy.

    The Post Office is quite capable of moving 300 million votes across the country. They handle that much mail in a single day around Christmastime.


    Do they think the media has done a good job or a poor job of informing the public about the pandemic?

    In large part, our local media has done a good job, helped by excellent communication from the Maine CDC. The national media has often allowed itself to be swayed by political discourse.

    Of course, there is no one “media.” The job done by Fox News or MSNBC is certainly much different from that done by Breakthrough News or Mother Jones.

    Well prior to the advent of the pandemic, the media, writ large, has been decimated by the internet’s effect on monetization, has succumbed to base click-bait journalism, and participates in hype cycles that do little to provide people with information they can use to make good decisions in their daily lives.


    Do you think the media has treated candidates from all parties equally and fairly this election cycle?

    I think the media has largely done their best, but many members of the media are so indoctrinated it’s impossible for them to really cover the race fairly. So often, journalists use words like “bipartisanship” or refer only to the two corporate parties or refer to the Democrat as the “opponent” (singular) of the Republican, without even thinking about the way they center the corporate party candidates and sideline anyone without a D or an R next to their name.

    Even our own Angus King has been left out of polling in the past because he was an independent, despite the fact that he was the odds-on favorite for his own re-election.

    Further, the media constantly evaluates races based on fundraising totals or polling that leaves out independents and smaller parties, perpetuating a cycle whereby independents can’t raise money because they don’t get coverage or show up in the polls, which makes it so they can’t get coverage.

    Maine’s media is fairer than most; the national media has almost entirely ignored our campaign, and mostly doesn’t even understand ranked-choice voting at all and so doesn’t even mention it in articles about Susan Collins and her “challenger.” There is a gross unfairness in national reporters parachuting into Maine, doing a poor job in covering our race while treating Mainers as rural rubes and lobstermen, and then jetting back out to let their readers know about just two of the four candidates running in our race.


    What does the U.S. need to do become "great again," since some nations now see us at risk of failing our democracy?

    • We must pass sweeping election and fundraising reform in order to have true representation of all people and end the stranglehold on our democracy held by corporate donors.

    • We must address the systemic racism that is built into our legal framework — we cannot be great until we remedy the white supremacy that is at the foundation of our country’s founding.

    • We must address climate change urgently with measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to their former "great" levels suitable to sustain life. We must mitigate the effects of pollution that threatens ecosystems with collapse.

    • We must pass tax reform that will require the wealthy to pay their fair share and ensure that our many vital social services are properly funded.

    • We must pass Medicare for All so the people who live in the United States can access health care without fear of bankruptcy.

    • We must end our endless wars and discontinue the moral abominations we perpetrate on foreign soils virtually every day.

    How will you ensure that you build a strong voice in Washington, D.C., and represent Mainers, not lobbyists nor party politics?

    Considering I’m the only candidate in this race who has pledged not to accept any donations from corporate executives or lobbyists, I think there’s little chance I will be influenced by them. Further, while I do intend to re-enroll as a Green after I win this race, “independent” is built right into the fabric of the Maine Green Independent Party and core to our mission is working for everyday Mainers.