Last week, I sat in the Preble Street Resource Center dining room, where hundreds of residents eat meals each day, to attend a candidate forum with Democrat Mike Michaud, hosted by Homeless Voices for Justice.
(Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler is scheduled to attend a Homeless Voices for Justice forum Oct. 7; Gov. LePage has declined the group’s invitation to appear, WCSH-TV has reported.)
With informed candor, folks at the Sept. 24 forum asked questions on topics ranging from universal, single-payer health care; to increased community-based support for people struggling with addiction; to expanding the definition of "housing" under General Assistance; and how to reform Portland’s courts and jails so people are not simply punished and thrown away by our judicial system.
The majority of those who spoke have experienced some combination of poverty, unemployment and homelessness. Everyone spoke from a place of hard-earned clarity about our shared human rights that must be met in order to lead lives of health, security and equity.
What I experienced at the forum was a profound and collective act of participation in the democratic process. It is this type of critical questioning, collective effort and focus on how to ensure the public good that we as residents of Maine will need to continue throughout and beyond election season.
Mainers are calling for courageous leadership that will fight for our human rights to universal health care, quality education, fair housing and jobs with dignity. Whoever is elected governor in November will be forced to answer that call because our ongoing and organized participation will demand it.