The Bolt to the Blaine House ’10 – Lynne Williams (G)

So far we’ve taken a brief look at two candidates for the Blaine House, Alex Hammer (I) and Bruce Poliquin (R). Today it’s Maine Independent Green party candidate Lynne Williams’ turn.

Greens have a strong history in Maine. Party members have risen higher here, in the form of John Eder, than in any other state. Green’s share of gubernatorial votes have risen steadily over the past four elections. From 1994 to 2006 Greens vote share rose from 6.4% to 9.56%. The independent candidate will likely cut into William’s votes, as happened to Pat LaMarche in ’06. Indy candidate Barbara Merrill garnered 21.55% of the vote that election. It would be highly unlikely that Lynne Williams will face no other third party or independent competition. This could mean another year looking in the windows of the Blaine House for the Greens.

Williams is not charging ahead without a strategy like some political Custer. Williams is hoping to leverage the Greens’ party platform in this economic and environmental time of need. Williams, in the spirit of Ralph “The Spoiler” Nader, is also anti-corporation.

from Bangor Daily News:

“The Green party platform, and my own values, are particularly suited to guiding a state through this type of [difficult economic] period,” Williams said in the statement. “I seek to create a new definition of growth and progress, where such terms are not defined by how many Wal-Marts are in a region, but rather by how much people in that region support and patronize their own locally owned businesses.”

Mainers have been pretty clear about where they do and don’t wont big box stores. Towns up and down the coast have rejected Wal-Marts moving in. Many towns have zoning laws protecting against chains and/or buildings outside of the town’s “character”. William’s intends to back these movements from her position as governor.

from Lynne Williams 2010:

It is time we take back the power in our state. It is time we put the brakes on the voracious appetites of Nestle/Poland Spring, Plum Creek, First Wind, TransCanada, and the like. Even the smallest town is powerful when the people organize, and towns have shown this to be true in recent struggles. I believe in local control and decentralization, unlike the current administration.

Williams welcome message is full of the sort of even more localized version of state’s rights – town rights we’ll say. I will say right off the bat, if autonomous towns worked we’d already have them. Globalization at even the state level is too great for what Williams seems to be calling for. Towns and counties are too dependent on what one another does to act without complete concern for the other, or the health of the entire state. For a party that is supposed to be so forward and progressive, those ideas are antiquated and regressive.

Williams believes, like other candidates have already and new entries surely will, that Maine must harness alternative energy sources and soon. Williams however wants any new alternative energy programs to be community created, owned, and operated. I would need a little more to go on before I say I agreed with that. How would such a system work? Would towns be completely autonomous in how they operated alternative energy programs or would there be state oversight? Williams’ emphasis on decentralization seems to point to the former. This could doom Maine’s chance of becoming a clean technology leader. Williams seems to assume that every municipality in Maine has people qualified to manage the business end and day to day opperations of a power plant. If towns were free to contract out, what is to provent them from still getting taken for a ride?

I cannot in any way support Williams’ next point. Williams would like communities to determine their own transportation needs, come up with their own solutions, then claims the state must provide the support. How in the world could that work? The conflicts this would cause could cripple our road system. Towns are interdependent. Our economy, our region’s, and our nation’s are linked to our road system. Towns cannot act as though none of this matters. We should be promoting solutions that serve the state best as a whole, not one small town.

Even if interdependency wasn’t an issue, limited resources are. Money is in short supply in Maine. With each town claiming that their issue MUST be taken care of how is one to decide which gets the funding? There is not enough money to fund all projects, that is just a reality that Williams will have to face. It would be like turning Maine’s transportation decisions into America’s Next Top Model. All the towns pushing, scratching, and cat walking their way to see who’s project will get completed! Hmm…that would be a more interesting way of doing things.

Now that I’ve spent several paragraphs lambasting Lynne Williams let me step back a bit. Williams has something I admire. Conviction. When Williams feels passionate about an issues it shows. One look at her legal career gives us insight into Williams’ stances on several issues.

Williams has provided counsel to the Animal Welfare Institute and Wildlife Alliance of Maine in a suit to protect lynx from trapping. In the fight against Plum Creek development of Moosehead Lake, Williams represents Forest Ecology Network and RESTORE: The North Woods. Williams’ environmental convictions are evident here.

How does Williams feel about civil rights? Williams represented anti-war protesters arrested for refusing to leave the Bangor offices of Senators Snowe and Collins. The Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine has honored Williams for representing nonviolent protesters. Williams helped gay and lesbians register as domestic partners as well. These are things many Mainers could get behind, but is that enough to win the governorship?

One blogger from San Fransisco said that “under the perfect storm” Williams could win the 2010 election. Can the Greens succeed outside of Portland? Are Mainers ready to give a Green party member more power than they ever have? Are the Greens ready to take the reigns? We’ve got about 16 months to read tea leaves, argue at the Shaw’s parking lot, and generally ruminate on that.

Tomorrow: Steve Rowe (D)