Maine Trails, October - November '09
Inside Cover
President's Message
Cover Story
Question 6
TIGER
Giving their all
Burns' Fencing
MBTA celebrates 70

Maine News

Voters approve Question 6 by 2-to-1 margin

By Kathryn Buxton
 
Jobs and safety are important to Mainers, particularly now as the state struggles to recover from several quarters of recession-related job losses. That, according to Maine Better Transportation Executive Director Maria Fuentes, is the message to take away from the November 4 election that featured three transportation related ballot questions. Maine voters passed one of those questions, the $71.25 million transportation bond, with a 65.4 percent YES and 34.6 NO vote.
 
“Maine voters really seem to understand the importance of investment in our transportation infrastructure and how it is directly linked to our economic well-being and safety,” said Fuentes. “They know that we have to invest in infrastructure to create and sustain jobs.”
 
Voter turnout was unusually high for a mid-term election. Originally, state election officials had predicted a 35 percent voter turnout. By the end of the day, that number had jumped to nearly 60 percent. That strong turnout may have proved beneficial for Maine’s transportation network. In addition to passing the transportation bond, voters defeated two ballot measures that transportation advocates were watching closely:
 
Question 2, a measure that would have cut the excise tax was defeated by an almost 3-to-1 margin (74.06 percent voted NO; 29.94 percent voted YES);
 
Question 4, known as TABOR 2, was defeated with a 60.18 percent NO vote and 39.82 percent YES vote. If passed, Question 4 would have made transportation investments more difficult. 
 
“The early polling in August showed the shaky economy was helping us,” Mark Gray, chairman of Citizens Unified for Maine’s Future, the political action committee that ran the NO on Question 4 campaign told the Portland Press Herald. “It created a lot of uncertainty. The last thing people want in a state of uncertainty is more uncertainty.”
 
‘Money well spent’
 
The MBTA and its members had been very active in all three referendum campaigns. Fuentes and MBTA board members helped pull together a coalition of organizations, businesses and individuals in support of the transportation bond. To support the coalition’s efforts, the MBTA developed a Vote YES on Question 6 web site that gave the facts about the transportation bond, including the various programs the funding would support and levels of federal, local and private matching funds that would be generated if the bond passed and the number of jobs the funding would create. MaineDOT estimated that the $219 million in bonds and matching funds would create or support approximately 4,600 jobs in the Maine economy.
 
“Mainers have a lot of trust that spending money on transportation infrastructure is money well spent,” said Fuentes. “They know there isn’t a lot of waste and that what money we do spend creates a lot of family jobs.”
 
The message about matching funds was also effective, according to Fuentes. “We were able to show that with the bond, we could, in effect, triple our money, and that’s money that we can’t afford to say no to,” said Fuentes.
 
During the final days of the campaign, the MBTA and coalition members organized two press conferences that brought attention to Question 6. The MBTA, LifeFlight of Maine, the Maine Section ASCE, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, and the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce held news conferences in Bangor and Portland to help raise awareness of the transportation bond question.
 
At the Portland news conference, Erik Wiberg, speaking on behalf of the Maine Section ASCE, pointed out that passage of the bond was just one step on a long journey to repairing and modernizing Maine’s transportation infrastructure. Wiberg talked about a transportation system – crumbling roads, aging bridges and overstressed transit systems – that will need new sources of state and local funding to keep Maine’s economy moving in the future.
“We cannot afford to rely on ‘patch and pray’ methods,” said Wiberg. 
 
How did your county vote?
 
Question 6: Transportation Bond
 
Percentage of total votes cast by county
 

County

YES

NO

Androscoggin

62.22

37.78

Aroostook

64.22

35.78

Cumberland

70.28

29.72

Franklin

63.44

36.56

Hancock

66.96

33.04

Kennebec

62.84

37.16

Knox

68.94

31.06

Lincoln

64.84

35.16

Oxford

61.73

38.27

Penobscot

62.59

37.41

Piscatiquis

56.19

48.81

Sagahadoc

64.67

35.33

Somerset

56.21

43.79

Waldo

61.97

38.03

Washington

62.89

37.11

York

68.35

31.65

Statewide

65.40%

34.60%

 
Yes on 6 Coalition
 
Many thanks to the following organizations and their members who helped get out the vote in support of Question 6, the transportation bond referendum.
 
  • Maine Better Transportation Association
  • Maine State Chamber of Commerce
  • Maine Section, American Society of Civil Engineers
  • LifeFlight Foundation/LifeFlight of Maine
  • Maine State Employees Association,
  • SEIU Local 1989
  • Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce
  • Eastport Port Authority
  • Maine Chapter, National Association
  • of Women in Construction
  • Northern Maine Development Commission
  • Maine Tourism Association
  • Maine Municipal Association
  • Maine Chapter, American Public Works Association
  • American Council of Engineering
  • Companies of Maine
  • Portland International Jetport
  • Maine Campground Owners Association
  • TrainRiders Northeast
  • AGC Maine
  • Auburn Business Development Corporation
  • Federal Marine Terminals
  • International Union of
  • Operating Engineers
  • Lewiston Auburn Growth Council
  • Maine Innkeepers Association
  • Maine Service Center Coalition
  • Maine State Building and Construction
  • Trades Council
  • Northern New England Passenger
  • Rail Authority
  • Lewiston Development Corp.
  • Lewiston/Auburn Railroad Company
  • Maine Rail Group
  • Maine Aggregates Association
  • Maine Asphalt Pavement Association
  • Maine Automobile Dealers Association
  • PACTS - Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation Committee
  • Bicycle Coalition of Maine
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