Earlier this month, I was proud to help launch a new campaign that is going to spend the next year working to hold Sen. Susan Collins accountable for the policies she has been supporting in Washington lately. Our campaign — called the 16 Counties Coalition — will lift up the voices of average Mainers and ask Sen. Collins to start listening to us, instead of her special interest friends who have been supporting her campaign.

There was a time when Collins actually listened to people like myself. But something has changed and she is not who she used to be. She still says the right things when she is here in Maine; but then she gets to Washington and, instead of working for average Mainers, she does what her special interest supporters want her to.

For example: Sen. Collins has taken more than $1 million from insurance and drug companies. In return, her vote was crucial in passing the Republican tax bill that gave those companies billions in tax breaks, put health insurance at risk for many families and put the squeeze on Medicare and Social Security. The five biggest drug companies alone scooped up more than $6 billion in tax cuts from that bill that she helped to pass. I don’t recommend anyone holding their breath waiting for any of that $6 billion to come back to us here in Maine in the form of lower prescription costs.

As a working single mom, providing affordable health insurance for my family is essential. That is why I was disappointed that Collins voted for a bill that experts estimated would drive up premiums for thousands of Mainers and threatened the protections for Mainers dealing with pre-existing conditions. Since she was apparently too busy collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the banks and big insurance companies to take the time to think about all the families like mine, who rely on the Affordable Care Act, we have decided it is time to get together and demand that she start listening to us.

The 16 Counties Coalition has brought people together from every part of this state. Some of us have supported Sen. Collins in the past, but all of us now think that she is spending too much time with her special interest supporters and not enough time working on the issues that are important to average Mainers. Maybe 20 years in Washington does that to a politician. But, whatever the reason, when it happens, it is time for people to speak up and remind them who they work for.

Jessica Ford works as a machinist at Bath Iron Works and lives in Sabattus.

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