Justice Louis Brandeis once said, “The most important political office is that of the private citizen.”

He was right. It is a privilege, an honor and a big responsibility to serve in higher office, but it is no more important than the role of citizens in our democracy.

In 2000, I had the honor of running for the Maine House of Representatives as a Republican Clean Election candidate. On Election Day in 2014, I stood at the polls again, this time as a citizen, in order to collect signatures for the Clean Elections Initiative.

And on Jan. 21, 2015, I stood at the State House with 200 fellow Mainers to deliver 85,185 signatures to the secretary of state. Those signatures, from every county in Maine, will qualify the Clean Elections Initiative for the ballot later this year.

I support Clean Elections because I believe that all qualified Maine citizens should have a chance to run for office. I also believe that elected officials should not feel beholden to anyone but the citizens they represent. I was proud to be one of the pioneering Clean Election candidates because saying “No!” to private money, and “Yes!” to Clean Elections, was the right thing to do.

It should not matter whether you are rich or poor. Anyone with ideas and drive should be able to run for public office. In Maine, we believe in hard work and fairness for all. When people from all walks of life serve in public office the result is more perspectives and better debate in the State House, and a stronger democracy.


In my experience, both in business and in community service, I have learned that all of us have something unique to contribute, and no one should be left out.

Democracy works the same way. We must always encourage people from all backgrounds to participate. Clean Elections opens the door of opportunity so that the widest possible range of people can bring their voices to Augusta.

Maine citizens initiated the Maine Clean Election Act, and voters endorsed it at the polls in 1996. For more than a decade, the system worked well. But opponents of Clean Elections, here and around the country, have never let up on their attacks.

Today, Clean Elections has been weakened by damaging court decisions, budget raids and more. At the same time, the need to get big money out of politics has never been clearer. That is why Mainers once again have stepped up to lead, and why I and so many others stood at the polls with petitions in hand.

When I knocked on the doors of constituents’ homes back in 2000, folks only knew a few facts about Clean Elections. Once they learned more, I could see the pride in their eyes: pride in the knowledge that their state, the place they call home, was at the forefront of this fight for a more fair and accountable democracy.

Maine people are known to have long memories, and we remember why we created and passed Clean Elections in the first place. We remember how well it worked, how inclusive a system it is, and how good it felt to lead the nation on getting big money out of politics. We remember how empowering it is to be able to step up and support local candidates with a qualifying contribution of $5, knowing that each of us has an equal voice.


Our new citizen initiative will restore Clean Elections, increase transparency, and bolster accountability. These are all important upgrades to our campaign finance system, and we want the chance to vote on them in November.

Advocates for Clean Elections are everyday citizens from across Maine. Our message is loud and clear: We are tired of big dark money calling the shots. We are tired of outside interests influencing our elected officials. Enough is enough. We, the people of Maine, are the voice of this state. We, the people of Maine, want our government to work for us.

Whether Democrats, Republicans or independents, we are Mainers first. We want a government that better represents all of us. A government of, by and for Maine people.

Jolene Lovejoy lives in Rumford where she served on the Board of Selectmen and the School Board. She serves on several nonprofit boards, the Rumford Water District and the Rumford Board of Appeals.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.