Shenna Bellows

Shenna Bellows

Shenna Bellows

Democratic candidate for Maine Senate District 14 from Manchester

Running against Bryan P. Cutchen and Joseph J. Pietroski. View your ballot →

Is Maine too generous in providing social services to its residents? Which government benefits should be increased or decreased?

We have to reform our welfare system, and we can do so in way that protects seniors and children who are truly in need. Maine has been providing too many cash benefits to residents, but we can ensure that no family goes truly hungry or homeless by allocating more funds to local farmers, food banks and fuel distributors to ensure that peoples basic needs are met. We also need to realign the incentives, so that work is rewarded rather than penalized. In terms of where we could do more, we need to increase affordable housing and healthcare for seniors, and we must do more to protect children in our state with supports specifically for mental health services and supports for children and adults with disabilities including intellectual disabilities or autism.

Do you support expanding or raising the sales tax to lower the state income tax? Why or why not?

We must lower property taxes first. As Ive talked with voters in my district, Ive met too many retirees worried about losing their homes. Its no surprise property tax relief is the number one issue in our communities. We shouldn't cut or eliminate income tax if it's just going to shift the burden onto property taxpayers.

While I strongly support eliminating some of the sales tax exceptions that have been put in place by special interests, I believe we need to carefully analyze the cumulative impact on small businesses in our state before we raise or expand the sales tax.

Do you support marijuana legalization in Maine, as outlined in Question 1?

Yes

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

We incarcerate too many people in our state and our country for non-violent offenses. For that reason, I support ending prohibition. At the same time, we need to ensure that Maines successful medical marijuana system is preserved. If Question 1 passes, I will work hard to make sure the legislature protects medical marijuana caregivers and patients in the implementation process.

Do you support raising taxes on Mainers with incomes above $200,000 to increase state aid to education, as outlined in Question 2?

Yes

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

Education is critical to Maine's future. Education provides a pathway out of poverty and is fundamental to the American dream. The 3% tax increase on people making over $200,000 only applies to what they make over $200,000 after deductions. It's a small price to pay for the wealthiest people in our state, many of whom support this initiative because they understand that education funding is so important.

Do you support universal background checks for firearm sales, as outlined in Question 3?

Yes

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

I support background checks for private sales because I believe we should keep guns out of the hands of criminals. At the same time, family members should not have to conduct background checks on one another just to share a gun. If Question 3 passes, I will work hard to ensure that the law preserves exceptions for transfers among family members and temporary transfers for recreation to avoid any undue burden on Maine's hunters and families.

Should Maine raise its minimum wage, as outlined in Question 4?

Yes

Please explain your answer. (Not required.)

People who work full-time should be able to buy food and pay their bills. One of the best ways to grow the economy is to put money in workers pockets. An artificially low minimum wage that keeps workers in poverty really benefits the WalMarts and McDonalds of the world. We, the taxpayers, are subsidizing the profits of fast food chains and big box retailers when their workers are forced to go to the food pantry to feed their families. Raising the minimum wage would help thousands of Maine workers directly and grow the economy.

Do you support the initiative to use ranked-choice voting to elect state and federal officials in Maine, as outlined in Question 5?

Yes

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

Ranked choice voting is a commonsense reform that would restore majority rule to our elections and empower voters in our democracy. If forced to win the support of more than 50% of the voters, politicians would have to work harder to talk to everyone and to run more positive campaigns. Voters could vote their conscience without fear of vote splitting or the spoiler effect. We would be assured that whoever wins elected office would represent the majority of the people.

Should Maine prioritize law enforcement efforts to intercept drug traffickers over expanding access to substance abuse treatment, such those that incorporates medications like methadone and Suboxone?

Maine's heroin/opiate epidemic is shattering families and devastating our communities. Drug treatment and prevention go hand in hand with law enforcement, and we should absolutely do more to support the coalition of providers and law enforcement that are working collaboratively together to address the problem. We need more investment in substance abuse treatment and prevention. There arent enough in-patient facilities that will serve people with drug addiction to meet the demand. Ive met grandparents trying desperately to find someone to take their children or grandchildren. Similarly, we need to invest more in law enforcement to ensure they have the resources to keep our communities safe.

Should Maines constitutional officers -- the secretary of state, the attorney general, auditor and the treasurer -- continue to be elected by the Legislature or by statewide popular vote?

I favor a statewide popular vote.

Is the size of Maines Legislature appropriate? Should the pay for legislative service be increased?

I think we could potentially decrease the size of the legislature, but it would be important to ensure we have sufficient representation in rural areas. I dont think legislative pay needs to be increased.

Would you support sanctioning another elected official if he or she made public comments or statements that were considered racist, offensive or prejudicial?

Yes, but it depends on the circumstance. Ive been a long-time advocate of both free speech and civil rights.

Would you support a so-called right to work law in Maine?

No. I support the right to organize and will oppose measures that undermine workers rights to advocate for better pay and better working conditions.

Would you support legislation or a ballot question to allow more casinos in Maine?

It depends upon the specific proposal and costs and benefits of the development to our state.

What is the biggest barrier to economic development in Maine and what can the Legislature do to address it?

We're not doing enough to attract the types of jobs that will provide a good living, especially for younger Mainerstoo many are leaving the state. We need to make Maine a place where people can stay and find work and raise a family. We can attract and retain these jobs by investing in infrastructure, supporting small businesses and start ups and research and development of new products and manufacturing opportunities. For example, Maine should invest in reliable, high speed Internet service for rural communities to support telecommuting and small business development. Better Internet service would also allow Maine companies a greater ability to market Maine-made products to the rest of the country and the world. Maine has an amazing workforce and wonderful quality of life as well as rich natural resources. We need to leverage these assets to grow the economy.

Census data show Maines population is aging and decreasing, with some economists suggesting that immigration is the best way to reverse those trends. What should the state do to address this demographic trend?

Maine is already a place where people want to live. We need to make Maine a place where people can make a living. That means supporting small business and entrepreneurs, and investing in infrastructure that would connect young people to the national economy. We should support and strengthen incentives like the Opportunity Maine tax credit that helps Maine graduates who decide to stay and work in Maine. We should look at other ways to help graduates pay off student loans if they stay and work in Maine. We need to help businesses find workers with appropriate job training programs and legal immigration. We can reverse the brain drain, and we should.

What is the most pressing issue in Maine these questions have not addressed?

Property taxes. Voters across Senate District 14 agree that property taxes are too high. It's the number one issue I'm hearing from voters as I knock on doors in my district. I've met many seniors worried that they will not be able to stay in their homes because they're on a fixed income and can't afford rising tax bills. The state is not paying its fair share back to the towns for schools and infrastructure. I will fight for lower property taxes. I will advocate for property tax relief for seniors, families and small businesses. I will work hard to build a coalition of Democrats, Independents and Republicans to get the state to pay its fair share back to the towns for education and infrastructure. I will strongly support restoring municipal revenue sharing. I will be a strong voice for a more responsible and fair state budget.