Portland Press Herald: Pingree our choice for 1st Congressional District

By The Portland Press Herald Editorial Board

Her deep connections to a diverse district make her the right choice for another term in Congress.

There are not many congressional districts as diverse as Maine’s 1st. It not only contains the state’s major urban center, but also farms, forests and seacoast, each with its own unique demands on their member of Congress.

Fortunately, the district is well represented by a person who has had the capacity to understand all of those competing interests. We enthusiastically endorse Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree for re-election this fall.
Pingree has shown herself to be a solid match for her district, winning re-election three times by wide margins, even in years like 2010 and 2014, which were bad ones for Democrats. She does that because she is in touch with her constituents and reflects their values. We can count on Pingree to maintain strong, progressive positions on health care, immigration, gun control, reproductive rights and environmental protection. But her ability to work for her constituents when Congress is mired in partisan extremism is even more impressive.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree is in touch with her constituents and reflects their values.

Pingree has been able to find common ground on issues that matter back home. For instance, as a member of the Agriculture Committee, she was able to work with conservatives who wanted to change a farm policy that was focused exclusively on commodity subsidies. That created opportunities for small farmers in Maine.

On climate change, she is working with representatives from other coastal regions, such as Alaska Republican Don Young, on protecting communities from the damages of sea level rise. Pingree rightly understands that Mainers need help, and they won’t get that from an ideological battle.

These are the kind of alliances Maine needs to make, and it’s the kind of work that we would expect to see more of from Pingree if she is returned to the capital.

We don’t believe that her opponent, Republican Mark Holbrook, would be that kind of leader. Holbrook is an outspoken critic of government, but has little to offer in the way of constructive solutions. His ideas about immigration and economic development are simplistic, pitched more for talk radio than for productive action. Washington already has too many people who are more interested in taking a hard line than in getting any work done.

Holbrook narrowly won a low-turnout primary last June after leading Republicans decided that the race was not worth their while. This lopsided general election is what you get when a popular incumbent is running for another term. As a result, the people of the 1st District are being denied a robust contest of different ideas on how to make government work.

But at least there is one candidate in the race who offers a positive vision, and that’s why we enthusiastically support Pingree’s re-election.

Originally appeared in the Portland Press Herald.

Pingree deserves to return to D.C., put her influence to good use for Maine

By The BDN Editorial Board

The choice before voters in Maine’s 1st Congressional District is familiar: Vote to re-elect Democrat Chellie Pingree or cast a ballot for a little-known Republican challenger with little backing from his party.

The Maine Republican Party has failed moderate voters in southern Maine for years by not building up a cadre of qualified, reasonable candidates who would be able to win a primary and seriously challenge Pingree. The district leans Democratic, but by failing to put up serious candidates, the party is disenfranchising a large percentage of voters.

As GOP consultant and 1st District resident Lance Dutson wrote earlier this year, “Republicans have a winning message for CD 1 if they can focus on what matters to the district and not what plays best to the talk-radio base.”

Mark Holbrook, a psychologist from Brunswick, eked out a win in the 1st District Republican primary against Ande Smith, a more moderate candidate.

Holbrook, who sees many veterans in his private practice, has a personal understanding of problems within the Department of Veterans Affairs and has worthwhile suggestions for improvements.

But his extreme conservatism and denigration of people who weren’t born in Maine is not a good match for Maine’s 1st Congressional District.

Holbrook has mocked political correctness, opposed extending civil rights protections to transgender students and praised Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for “saying what he thinks.”

Pingree has made support for small farms a priority in her eight years in Congress. The most recent Farm Bill contains many provisions she championed, which will help local growers and producers by improving their access to financial support from banks and the federal government and helping to expand markets for locally grown products.

Pingree also has worked on veterans issues, and she sponsored legislation that made it through the Republican-controlled House to help military sexual assault victims obtain VA benefits. The bill was named for Ruth Moore of Milbridge, who was raped while in the Navy and later diagnosed with a mental illness.

Pingree supports raising the minimum wage and opposes repealing the Affordable Care Act, which we think are helpful policy positions for low-income Maine residents. Pingree also occupies a valuable seat on the House Appropriations Committee, one of the chamber’s most influential committees.

She has put her influence to good use in recent years as a member of the minority party in a challenging political environment. She deserves to return to Washington, D.C., where she will continue to ably represent Maine’s 1st District.

Originally appeared in the Bangor Daily News.

Pingree receives perfect score on food votes

​Today, Chellie Pingree received a 100% score for the 114th Congress from Food Policy Action, a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to holding members of Congress accountable for their votes on food and farming.

Food Policy Action was established in 2012 through a collaboration of national food policy leaders in order to educate the public and the media about food policy and to hold legislators accountable on votes that have an effect on food with objective information on how the United States Congress votes on a full range of food policy issues, which vitally influence our health, economy and the environment. Its goal is to change the national dialogue on food policy by educating the public on how elected officials are voting on these issues. Through education and the National Food Policy Scorecard, more people will be armed with the information they need to advocate for sound food policy and vote with their forks to elect more food policy leaders across the country.

View Chellie’s score here and view the entire scorecard here.

EqualityMaine endorses Chellie Pingree

LGBT equality is on the line up and down the ballot? We’ve made remarkable progress in recent years, but electing the wrong people could easily reverse everything we have achieved together. As we approach Election Day, we’ll be sharing our endorsements with you, so you know who stands on the side of full equality.

EqualityMaine is proud to endorse Chellie Pingree for re-election to Congress. In her first term she helped pass groundbreaking bills to advance equality: the Matthew Shepard hate crimes law and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Since then she has continued to work for progress on our issues, as a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus and as a co-sponsor of the Equality Act. Simply put, Chellie has had our backs every step of the way.

Why This Congresswoman Thinks Kids Will Lead The Food Waste Revolution

Rep. Chellie Pingree is heading the legislative fight against food waste.

For the congresswoman leading the fight for better laws around food waste, using up leftovers was just a way of life.

“I come from New England, home of Yankee thrift,” Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) told The Huffington Post. “Wasting food wasn’t even a concept. But I realized, once I grew up, that this wasn’t the case for most Americans.”

In December, Pingree introduced the Food Recovery Act and the Food Date Labeling Act in the House ― the first-ever congressional bills on the issue. The legislation takes an expansive view of food waste, with provisions on everything from farm waste to imperfect produce to more extensive USDA research.

Pingree gave HuffPost an inside look at her campaign during a phone interview that touched on how food waste intersects with cultural values, climate change and education.


Join thousands of Americans calling on Congress to pass Rep. Pingree’s Food Recovery Act.

Sign the petition at Change.org How did you first become interested in food waste as a target of legislation?

It first came to my attention at The New York Times’ Food for Tomorrow conference in 2014. That opened up my awareness of how much we’re throwing away: about 40 percent of all the food produced each year! It sounded so massive that I wondered how we’d possibly go about tackling this. I also heard Jonathan Bloom [the author of American Wasteland] speak, and I realized that this isn’t just a matter of ideology: it’s a real, tangible problem that the government can impact positively.

What is your personal background with regard to food waste?

I come from New England, so we had that Yankee notion that nothing should be wasted, ever. I’ve lived on a farm for much of my life and even have one today [Turner Farm in North Haven, Maine], so I’ve never thought twice about keeping a can on the countertop for food scraps or compost, or reusing food as animal feed. But I realized that America has really lost a generation of people who know how to use leftovers or freeze their food. Many people, for example, never knew it was OK to keep a compost bucket on their countertop!

Is this a bipartisan issue?

Absolutely. The chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Rep. [Mike] Conaway of Texas, is a Republican and has been a great partner on this: he organized a hearing with experts in food waste and industry stakeholders. I see it as an issue that doesn’t have a lot of organized opposition. And even in the corporate sphere, our bill has received endorsements from Campbell, Nestle and other huge food companies.

Do you think any legislation will pass before the August recess? If not, what’s your realistic timeline?

Let’s face it, it takes a long time to get things through Congress. Our bill is very comprehensive, and especially this year, an election year, we may not get it all done. But we’re going to try and tack on some pieces ― like expiration date labeling, or funding for waste research ― as appropriations on other bills.

What are some facts about food waste that would surprise most Americans?

First, there’s the mind-blowing fact about 40 percent of our food supply is wasted annually. And against that backdrop, 15 percent of Americans still go hungry or are food insecure. Also, food waste is also a huge source of pollution: when it breaks down in landfills, for instance, it produces methane, a worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

On a personal or household level, what can people do to reduce their food waste? For instance, you mention your own “Yankee thrift,” but many other cultures or families value abundance, or overabundance, which is hard to shake.

It’s true that there are some cultural incentives to waste food, but I actually think an equally strong impulse is that nobody wants to contribute to greenhouse gases and global warming. Of course, this requires that people know that wasting food has this effect, so public education is very important. Another powerful connection is that less wasted food means assisting folks who are going hungry.

It shouldn’t be a value to have too much food and waste it. Maybe we can change our idea of hospitality so that we brag to our guests that, for instance, we were going to throw away bread but turned it into bread pudding. A culture shift is not impossible. In the restaurant world, food waste was hardly a popular issue whenDan Barber spent almost a month turning unsightly vegetables into meals. But he got everyone talking!

I also think, on the values front, kids will be leaders in the food waste effort. Think about recycling: elementary school kids took the lead on that. They started by sorting waste in schools, and kids brought that knowledge home, and “translated” the practice for their parents.

The Food Recovery Act is quite comprehensive, but what would you single out as a key provision?

One of the pieces we think has the highest cost-benefit ratio is date labeling: making food labels more specific. It should be very clear to the customer if the date is a sell-by, eat-by or throwaway date. That confusion probably causes a significant portion of food waste at home.

Another section of your bill references new research. What kind of research do you suggest the USDA conduct into food waste technology?

We definitely need more data about different products’ shelf lives. We have to run on conservative estimates unless research proves otherwise. We also need more research on waste allocation: where the food gets wasted, and what institutions are the biggest sources of waste. The USDA used to have a designated position to oversee exactly this type of research, but it was eliminated in the Clinton administration. We hope it can be reinstated. In the meantime, the organizationReFED produces a really wonderful report with great data on date labeling.

Are there any countries or places in America that legislate food waste better than our country as a whole?

Vermont has set a date by which there can be no more organic matter in landfills.San Francisco is moving towards mandatory composting. In Portland, Maine, there are now two different companies that do curbside compost pickup. Based on this, I think it will be important for Congress to offer assistance to municipal waste facilities ― big changes can happen on a municipal level, but not every city has the same resources.

Looking abroad, the U.K. has done a lot to reduce grocery store food waste across the board. And France recently took the great step of mandating that grocery stores donate, rather than throw out, their unsold food.

What’s a realistic target for reducing our food waste levels? You’ve said that we waste about 40 percent of all food in the U.S. Is the target eventually zero percent?

The ideal, of course, is zero percent, and I still believe that should be the ultimate goal. Particularly because of the climate change implications, we have to be ambitious. The USDA’s goal is “Zero by 2030.” But the timeline is within our control. A state can just ban organic matter tomorrow. Our proposed bills are a guide, not a mandate. It’s up to the stakeholders ― and there are many ― to work together to eliminate food waste.

Originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

Paid for by Pingree for Congress