Maine House Rep. Henry Bear registers Green, announces CD2 candidacy

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Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017

Maine House Rep. Henry Bear registers Green, announces CD2 candidacy

On Monday, Henry John Bear, Tribal Member Representing the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians in the Maine House of Representatives, officially registered as a member of the Maine Green Independent Party. The move comes in anticipation of his Friday announcement as a Green candidate for U.S. House Representative to Maine’s Second Congressional District, challenging incumbent Congressman Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine.

Bear will announce his candidacy with an event at 2 p.m., Friday, at the Aroostook Treaty Education Center, 41 Elm St., in Houlton.

 “I’m different,” said Bear, “and that’s why I have a reasonable chance of succeeding in this campaign. I represent change. I’m capable, fearless when necessary, and the first tribal member with a law degree to run for U.S. Congress in Maine. Due to my life experience with the U.S. Coast Guard as a rescue coordinator, followed by extensive legal, small business and legislative experience, I am motivated to not shy away from conflict. Instead, I run toward it seeking to know who's in trouble and what the threat is, and then take timely action to help. That's my nature."

In registering as a Maine Green Independent, Bear joins Ralph Chapman, G-Brooksville, as the second legislator in Maine serving in the Maine House of Representatives. Maine now has the two highest elected Greens in the United States.

Bear is a distinguished House member, in his third term representing the Houlton Band of Maliseets. He has been roundly praised for his work on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, helping to move through a bill to provide tuition assistance for veterans, for example, and earning the American Legion’s Legislator of the Year Award in 2016. A 15-year veteran of the Coast Guard, Bear works as a designer on the guided missile destroyer program's naval weapons electrical systems at General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works.

Now he looks toward serving the tribes and all people of Maine's second congressional district in a federal role, prioritizing issues on the environment, civil rights, strength through non-violent and humanitarian military sophistication, and economic equity.

Bear points to incumbent Poliquin’s lack of support for Medicaid expansion, which recently passed overwhelmingly at the ballot box, as a clear sign the people of the Second District need representation that more closely aligns with their interests.

In joining the MGIP, Bear credits Green Presidential Candidate Jill Stein and Chapman, his seatmate in the House, for articulating positions that aligned with his own and drew his attention to the rising interest in the Maine Green Independents.

“I have found that our issues are very similar,” said Bear, “especially on the issues of the environment and civil rights and economic equity. I believe in health care for everyone who can’t afford it and I believe in ensuring that one person's hard day’s work results in a living wage, enough for a house and a car payment, and food for her family.”

While Bear will announce his candidacy Friday in the Aroostook County watershed traditional to the Maliseet Tribe, he is also the son of a French Canadian-American mother, with parents married in the Catholic Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, was born in Lewiston at St. Mary's, lived in four excellent Auburn foster homes, and graduated from Edward Little High School, then the University of Maine at Presque Isle, before earning his law degree in nearby New Brunswick.

“You could say I’m a true son of the Second District,” Bear said, “born, educated, and life-long resident. I have skills to put differences aside and use democratic solutions to achieve a truly moral economy and push back against powerful bullying in all forms. We have the technology to communicate with each other, anywhere, instantly. I will use it to implement policy agreements that move us toward a healthy and prosperous community, a progressive and transparent government, and safer and more inclusive world community.”

 

 

Second state representative enrolls Green Independent

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017

Second state representative enrolls Green Independent

HOULTON -- State Rep. Henry John Bear (G--Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians) became the second member of the State Legislature to enroll Green Independent this year. Bear joins State Rep. Ralph Chapman (G--Brooksville), increasing the Green Independent Party's legislative caucus to two. Chapman joined the party in September.

"I have had the honor of serving in Maine’s House of Representatives with Representative Henry Bear for the past half-dozen years," Chapman said. "His approach toward legislative matters and other legislators is thoughtful, well-informed, and very respectful. His wisdom and gentle leadership on issues, especially of civil rights and our environment, will contribute greatly to Maine’s Green Independent Party which he has joined. I am thrilled to be able to work further with Henry as a fellow Green Independent party member and legislator."

“I have found that our issues are very similar,” said Bear on why he joined the party, “especially on the issues of the environment and civil rights and sustainable economic development and income equity. I believe in health care for everyone who can’t afford it and I believe in ensuring that one person's hard day’s work results in a living wage, enough for a house and a car payment, and food for her family.”

Party Co-Chairs Jon Olsen and Riva O'Rourke immediately welcomed Bear to the party.

"We Greens have long understood that our values of ecological wisdom, stewardship, and social justice are congruent with those of the traditions of First Peoples in this land," said Olsen. "We are delighted that a man from that tradition of the caliber of Henry John Bear has chosen to align with us in the Maine Green Independent Party."

"I am very, very pleased to welcome State Rep. Henry John Bear of the Houlton Band of Maliseets to the Maine Green Independent Party," O'Rourke said. "It thrills me to know that our party has achieved the endorsement of such an amazing and dedicated man." 

The Maine Green Independent Party now hosts the two highest-ranking Green elected officeholders in the nation.

Greens open primaries to unenrolled voters

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Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017

Greens open primaries to unenrolled voters

The Maine Green Independent Party voted at its Fall Assembly this month to allow unenrolled voters – commonly referred to as “Independents” – to participate in the party's primary election in 2018.

"The nearly 40 percent of unenrolled Maine voters speaks volumes about the dissatisfaction they have with the corporate parties," said Jon Olsen, one of the party's two co-chairs. "We offer an alternative by allowing them into our primary, agreeing with them that the major parties represent the interests of corporations instead of citizens. We hope they will see the Maine Green Independent Party as 'their' party."

The Democratic and Republican parties close their parties to only voters who are enrolled in their parties. However, Maine statutes allow political parties to broaden eligibility for participation in their primaries. The Maine Green Independent Party was the first political party in Maine to allow unenrolled voters to participate in the primary, when it made the same decision in 2016.

Party officials argue that closed primaries lead to candidates selected by small factions and that candidates represent issues outside mainstream public discourse. By opening its primary, the Maine Green Independent Party encourages participation in the political process and increases awareness of its candidates' positions and backgrounds.

The party, which has nearly 50,000 enrolled members, has previously taken other measures to allow participation in the political process to more than just enrolled party members. Maine statutes specify that delegates to a party convention “must be qualified to vote in the party's primary election unless otherwise permitted by party rules.” Several years ago, the party changed its rules to allow Maine immigrants and underage residents to “participate in all aspects of the party … except where prohibited by statute.”

According to the party's bylaws, “Lack of citizenship or an inability to register as a voter, whether due to age or other reasons, cannot preclude any interested person from joining the party.”

In fact, the party's youngest member, 12-year-old Americah O'Rourke, attended the Fall Assembly, which also served as a special convention to decide the eligibility requirements for primary election participation. Although Americah cannot legally participate in the primary election, or in a municipal caucus, she did take part in the vote to open the party's primary election to unenrolled voters - a unanimous decision at the convention.

"I thought it was good that our party doesn't mind how old you are to be able to vote," said Americah. "It made me feel proud, because now unenrolled people can vote in the Green Party in Maine."

Riva O'Rourke, co-chair of the party who is also Americah's mother, said, "The Maine Green Independent Party is a growing option for voters disaffected with today's political gamesmanship and rhetoric. With open primaries in 2018, the party hopes more Mainers investigate the ideas and values of its candidates and to help elect candidates that represent the interests of the independent-thinking and forward-looking people of Maine."

Maine Greens call for people's veto of bill effectively killing RCV

Maine Greens call for people’s veto of bill effectively killing RCV

 

 

Maine Greens call for people’s veto of bill effectively killing RCV

Maine Green Independent Party co-chairs Riva O’Rourke and Jon Olsen today condemned the Maine State Legislature's actions in special session yesterday in passing passed LD 1646, “An Act To Implement Ranked Choice Voting in 2021.” This bill, supported by members of both the Democratic and Republican parties, “sabotages the citizen referendum on ranked choice voting,” said Olsen and O'Rourke. “This vote severely damages our first-in-the nation statewide effort to initiate RCV, and may have dealt it a fatal blow.”

While the bill in name implements RCV in 2021, in truth it does nothing of the sort, as many dissenting but ultimately unsuccessful legislators noted. Rather, it places obligations on future legislatures. Unless, by Dec. 1, 2021, the constitution is amended, RCV is completely repealed. The MGIP believes this is unacceptable.

"This sort of disregard for the people's will is a big part of my decision to run for governor," said Betsy Marsano, who announced her candidacy earlier this month. "For too long has our leadership in Augusta ignored everyday Mainers who expressed their will at the ballot box, only to see their interests go unaddressed by the legislature and the Blaine House."

The MGIP understands the concern over a recent advisory opinion from the justices of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. However, some races, such as those for federal offices, are completely unaffected by the Maine Constitution. RCV as passed by the voters could have been implemented for those races and allowed to proceed as mandated in the referendum vote without any fear of constitutional conflict.

The MGIP believes that by yet again ignoring the will of the voters—as expressed with the second-largest majority on record for a referendum vote, no less—legislative majority has overstepped its role. "The Maine people have spoken," said Olsen and O'Rourke. "We should be working to get as close to immediate implementation of RCV as possible.”

“We intend to oppose vigorously those legislators who voted to sabotage the referendum vote,” said Olsen and O’Rourke. Already, in part due to the legislature’s failure to implement the people’s will, State Rep. Ralph Chapman (G—Brooksville) has switched from Democrat to Green Independent. Greens welcome others to join us in our efforts.


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