Wave of protests greet Sen. Collins as she returns to Maine

Wave of protests greet Sen. Collins as she returns to Maine

Senator Collins returned home to Maine this week for the congressional recess and was greeted with a series of rallies and protests across the state calling on her to meet with her constituents. Rallies were organized in Portland, Lewiston and Bangor by progressive grassroots groups to call on the Senator to hold town hall meetings – a request her office has repeatedly refused.

“For more than a month, we’ve asked Senator Collins to meet with her constituents during the February break in a public, town hall meeting,” said Marie Follayttar Smith of Scarborough, one of the volunteer co-chairs of Mainers for Accountable Leadership. “Instead, she has chosen to avoid the thousands of Mainers who have called, emailed, written, and visited her offices. Today, we renew our invitation for Senator Collins to meet with us, and hear all our concerns. Senator, come and meet with your constituents.”

Participants at the rally signed an oversized invitation asking Collins to meet with Mainers and organizers announced they had collected over 2,000 signatures on a petition with the same message that they delivered to her office that day.

Speakers at the rallies shared how they are affected by the Senator’s decisions in Washington on issues ranging from immigration to health care.

Bangor protestors deliver a petition (above) while Portland protestors rally at City Hall (top)

“When I lost my employer-based health insurance, I had to get coverage through the Affordable Care Act that would also cover my daughter’s hearing aids. She has to wear a device in each ear and they can cost upwards of $3,000. Without the coverage we have now, I don’t know how we could afford it,” said Katie Sherman of Buxton. “I am so worried about what will happen to our health care if it’s repealed and I know that I’m not alone. There are thousands of parents across Maine who are faced with the same uncertainty. That’s why I’m calling on Sen. Collins to meet with Maine families to tell us where she stands on health care repeal. Will she continue to vote with her party to move forward on repeal? Maine families deserve to know.”

In Bangor, protesters assembled at both a downtown location and in front of the offices of Maine Public Radio. As Collins entered the building for  an appearance on Maine Calling, they chanted “we want a town hall.”

In Lewiston, attendees of a rally outside Collins’ local office said they were tired of Collins taking votes on both sides of the same issue and “playing both sides of the coin.”

The events follow a meeting on Tuesday where a handful of members representing MFAL sat down with Senator Collins and livestreamed their conversation. In addition to continuing to refuse a town hall, Collins said that her office has been flooded with calls and has had difficulty keeping up. She asked them to stop calling so that other constituents could receive assistance from her offices. Despite her complaints, advocates remain committed to holding the Senator accountable.

“Senator Collins needs to act on the demands of her constituents to stand up to the extreme agenda being pushed by her Republican colleagues,” said Stacy Leafsong of Bucksport. “All Mainers’ calls to Senator Collins matter. It is her job to hear all her constituents’ concerns and represent us.”

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