Shenna Bellows announced her run for congress against Senator Susan Collins in late October. Since then, town by town, she has been spreading her message and looking for support. A believer in a grassroots model of politics, Bellows made a stop in Machias last week to speak with interested citizens at the Machias Valley Grange Hall.
About thirteen people circled around the woodstove to talk about issues close to home. Bellows grew up in Hancock and has most recently worked as the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Maine. Bellows said that she was inspired to run because of her mother. Her mother, who at the age of 49 went back to school to become a nurse, so that she could get healthcare and benefits.
Bellows says that she's passionate about creating more opportunity for people who are struggling. She also believes that the U.S is spending too much money on the wrong priorities.
“We're spending billions to spy on people, meanwhile letting education and foodstamps slip,” she said last Tuesday at the meeting in Machias.
When asked about the “safety-net” just being a subsidy for corporations such as Wal-Mart, Bellows replied that in the last 20 years there has ben an economic and environmental crisis. One of her goals is to increase minimum wage to make it a “living wage.”
Bellows is also for transparency in government and worked extensively on the Right To Know GMO Campaign for the labeling of genetically modified foods.
“The reason I'm running is because we need more courage and honesty in government,” she said. As for energy solutions, Bellows says that she is not a propnent of nuclear energy, but rather green energy solutions such as smart wind, solar and the research and development of tidal energy.
“For economic development in Maine, we need cheaper and locally sourced energy,” she said.
Labeling herself as a progressive libertarian, the crowd at the Grange last week seemed intrigued by Bellows' earnest and knowledgeable responses. How her stance on the global concerns will further her candidacy is somewhat of a question. By representing and meeting at the small-town, local level, she hopes that her message will spread. As federal notes effect local issues, it is important, she believes, to talk to those being directly effected.
Bellows is prepared for some of those hot-button issues that often make or break a candidate with certain populations of voters. Bellows used to be an NRA member, but says that she is not anymore because it became too partisan and to extreme.
International involvement of the U.S. Is another one of those issues that will be important on both the local and federal level.
“We cannot afford to be the worlds policemen,” she said, and pushed for strategic international involvement and for the U.S. To be diplomatic first and foremost.
Seventy-one percent of Mainers still don't know who she is, and she has been adament about funding her campaign $5 at a time from local events such as the one at the Machias Grange. Passionate about local food systems and working people, the tactic may work for her. She is looking for the type of grassroots involvement that rural Maine runs on.
Saying that she would like to be the Elizabeth Warren of civil liberties she states, “You will always know where I stand and I will always listen to your opinions.”
For more information about Bellows and her campaign for Senate, visit http://bellowsforsenate.com or call 480-3171.