This year, the Bangor Daily News opinion pages will focus attention on four issues that are critical to Maine’s future. Our hope is that by engaging in meaningful, in-depth conversations with readers, experts and elected officials from across Maine, we will not only dive into some of the most pressing issues facing our state, but also bring attention to potential solutions.
As we’ve said previously, we will use these issues as a yardstick to measure the performance of the Mills administration, Legislature and others engaged in these issues.
We have picked three areas of focus: Maine’s workforce shortage and its consequences on the state’s economic development; referendum reform; and the high costs and challenges of Maine’s rural, spread out population.
We’d like you to pick the fourth topic. We’ve gotten nearly 200 responses so far, but we’d like to hear from you, too. Fill out an online form, or email email@example.com.
Climate change and the associated energy, land-use and conservation policies are the top concern of readers who have contacted us so far.
“Climate change is the No. 1 issue facing all of humanity (and life on Earth) and it’s both an environmental issue and an economic one,” wrote one reader.
“My vote is for climate change, because it is vital that we solve this issue, and Maine’s farming and fishing industries are so intrinsically linked to climate,” another reader said.
Our readers also shared a lot of concerns about health care, especially the need to reduce costs and increase availability of services.
“I have seen so many people professionally and personally be unable to have happy, healthy, productive lives because of lack of adequate physical and emotional health. Children can’t thrive, adults can’t succeed, if they can not manage health, addictions or mental illness,” a reader shared.
“I have seen how outrageous our healthcare and drug costs are,” another told us. “I have seen people unable to afford desperately needed healthcare. I have seen a cancer drug my mother needed cost $11,000 a month. Our system is broken and it is harming our society, our economy and our way of life.”
Readers also raised concerns about education — disparities in public school funding, the need for more early childhood education, and a need for greater accountability from educators.
The ongoing opioid crisis, infrastructure needs and prison reform are also on your minds — and for good reason.
Several readers wrote in to criticize our news coverage and editorials, and to remind us to cover all sides of an issue and to publish more diverse voices. We appreciate that feedback, too, and those are challenges we take very seriously.
That’s why we’re reaching out to you. We want to know what you are thinking. We appreciate it when you write or call us. We are grateful for your letters to the editor and OpEds. We hope you’ll keep writing them, even if you don’t agree with every editorial or perspective we publish.
As we focus on these issues in 2019, we hope to take our engagement with you much further. We’ll be hosting conversations and small events with experts. We’ll continue to ask for your feedback, through forums like this and others.
All your input matters. We will pick one topic to round out this year’s focus, but all your suggestions are important. They will help us think and write about the many issues that you care about. We will continue to tackle other issues like broadband, poverty, roads, substance use and the many topics that are parts of our daily conversations, or should be, and are often linked to one another.
But, for now, please let us know what’s top of mind when you think about our home state and how it can thrive in a changing world. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to bangordailynews.typeform.com/to/ngfWjp to fill out an online form.