January 7, 2013

House Speaker Mark Eves, and Senate President Justin Alfond applaud Matt Dunlop as Gov. Le Page finishes the swearing in ceremony, making Dunlop Maine’s new Secretary of State. Photo by Ramona du Houx

“I believe that the bonds that were approved by the voters of Maine should be issued,” said the newly sworn-in Maine State Treasurer Neria Douglass, to everyone who attended the ceremony for Maine’s newly elected constitutional officers.

These three officials stand in opposition to many of LePage’s policies: the state’s new treasurer, secretary of state, and attorney general said they plan to emphasize priorities that represent the majority of the people of Maine.

“The people of Maine are fortunate to have a fair and committed group of officers serving us,” said Senate President Justin Alfond.

Janet Mills and Matt Dunlap will return to their respective posts as attorney general and secretary of state, where they served prior to the Republican legislative victories of 2010. Douglass, former state auditor, will serve as state treasurer, and Pola Buckley will serve as auditor.

With her declaration, Douglass made it clear she opposes LePage’s bond policy, for he has frozen the issuing of state bonds, even though the people of Maine voted for them. Her Republican predecessor Bruce Poliquin followed LePage’s policies. Poliquin actions were viewed as a direct abuse of his official position.

Maine’s constitution states that bias has no place in the decisions of constitutional officers; that is why, in part, they are elected by the Maine State Legislature and not appointed by the governor. Maine is the only state that elects its constitutional officers in this way.

“This means representing all the people, not one party or the other, not carrying the banner for one administration or another, and I take that responsibility seriously,” said Janet Mills.

Douglass stated that Maine’s transportation infrastructure will continue to deteriorate, higher-education goals will falter, and environmental standards will be at risk, if bonds are not issued.

“All of these create not only job opportunities — while either repairing or erecting new buildings — but they also provide infrastructure that our people depend on,” said Douglass. “You cannot get a future if you don’t invest in your future.”

Democrats have stated that LePage’s insistence on holding back bond funding has hurt Maine’s economy. The evidence is simple: the jobs that could have been created haven’t been.

Maine’s innovation economy needs the bonds for continued research and development, which brings businesses to the state and helps to grow the incomes of Maine people and businesses.

The attempt to change Maine’s voter identification laws was heralded by the previous constitutional officers. Poliqin even used his office to send out politically biased reports.

Dunlap had a reputation for standing up for the principles of the office of secretary of state and sometimes opposed people in his own political party because of his official position.

“I was always very willing to work with Republicans, and I’m happy to work with this governor. But that’s going to be up to him,” said Dunlap.

Former Maine Attorney General Bill Schneider supported amending the state’s Medicaid plan and opposed the federal Affordable Care Act.

“Our Constitutional Officers will stand up for the people of Maine, whether it is on voting rights, bond proposals, or protecting consumers,” said House Speaker Mark Eves. “They will be independent and strong voices for the people.”