Three Maine minimum wage champions face primaries Tuesday

Three Maine minimum wage champions face primaries Tuesday

Three women in Lewiston/Auburn who have been at the forefront of the campaign to raise Maine’s minimum wage are seeking election or re-election to the Maine House. All three face contested primaries this Tuesday, June 14th.

melissaMelissa Stevens, running in Lewiston’s House District 59, has been on of the most dedicated supporters of the referendum campaign to raise Maine’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. In addition to collecting hundreds of signatures to help place the measure on the ballot, she has helped to organize events delivering the petitions and calling out corporate lobbyists on their attempts to derail the referendum

Stevens strong stand for the minimum wage has come in part from her own experiences working, raising a family, and seeking an education as a low wage worker. She is a single mother who has survived domestic violence and poverty and would bring a much-needed perspective to the state legislature.

When Lewiston’s mayor proposed publicly shaming Mainers who received welfare, Stevens had the courage to tell her own story about how public assistance allowed her to get back on her feet, gain an education and begin a fresh start for her family.

Stevens faces off against fellow Democrat Roger Fuller in the primary.

ginaRep. Gina Melaragno, running for re-election in Auburn’s House District 62, introduced the most far-reaching minimum wage bill this legislative session. She refused to leave tipped workers behind or to settle for anything less than $12/hr by 2020. It was her minimum wage bill that started the conversation in the legislature and set the terms of the statewide debate.

Economic issues are personal for Rep. Melaragno and she knows what it means to struggle to get by working for low wages. She first became involved in state politics when she was one of the 70,000 Mainers denied health care coverage due to Governor LePage’s refusal to accept federal funding. She started speaking up for everyday Mainers then and hasn’t stopped since.

“I am running because I want to see working- and middle-class people get a fair shot in this economy. We need strong leadership in Augusta and if re-elected I’ll continue to prove myself as a forceful advocate for our city and its people,” she said in announcing her re-election campaign.

Melaragno is being challenged for her seat by former Representative Brian Bolduc.

Bettyann Sheats, running in Auburn’s House District 64, is a West Point graduate and former Blackhawk helicopter pilot who now owns a small construction business in Auburn. She serves on the steering committee of the Maine Small Business Coalition and has helped to build an alliance of more than 500 fellow small business owners across the state in support of the minimum wage referendum campaign.

As a local landlord and community volunteer, Sheats has been at the forefront of efforts to address lead poisoning and other problems that result from Lewiston/Auburn’s older housing stock and she has campaigned for campaign finance reform.

She has also written for Beacon about Donald Trump’s misuse of the Bible. She faces Candace Gleason in the primary on Tuesday.

Together, these three women are leading the political conversation in Maine about what it means to build an economy that works for everyone.


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